The Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), which funds our Early Life exposures in Latina Adolescents (ELLA) project, was prominently featured in a recent article in Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) on institutes leading research on the environment and breast cancer.
One of the challenges in determining a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer is that the disease can show up decades after exposure to potentially harmful substances. BCERP, and its predecessors, were created to better understand the influence of environmental exposures during critical periods of development, also known as windows of susceptibility (in the womb and during puberty), and how this can affect disease risk later in life.
According to Silent Spring Institute’s executive director and ELLA’s co-principal investigator Dr. Julia Brody, who is quoted in the EHP article, increased funding for these research initiatives was a result of scientists realizing “that early-life exposures were most important and that it was too difficult to determine retrospectively environmental exposures in women who were getting breast cancer today.”
In addition to our ELLA study, other leading projects mentioned in the EHP article are the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project, the Sister Study, and the Two Sister Study. Collectively these projects have followed thousands of young girls and women to evaluate how exposure to environmental chemicals alters disease risk. All these projects aim to shed light on how to reduce breast cancer incidence rates through science-based preventative measures.
“Although breast cancer mortality rates have declined dramatically in recent decades, incidence rates today hover around the 130-per-100,000 mark first reached in the late 1980s. Furthermore, breast cancer also affects about 1.25 out of 100,000 American men today, 25% more than 30 years ago. This makes prevention a critical piece of the puzzle that has not yet been filled in.
In 2008 Congress passed the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act, which among other provisions mandated the establishment of the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC). In 2013 this interagency group of government, academic, and advocacy representatives issued recommendations for the future of breast cancer research. Their suggested number-one priority was prevention, a departure from the status quo emphasis on diagnosis and cure.”
To learn more about the major breast cancer research programs in the U.S. that are focused on the environment and prevention, you can read the full article here.
image credit: National Cancer Institute (breast cancer cell)