Approximately 12.4% of women born in the US today will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives. In the past, research has indicated that exposure to some chemicals may increase the risk of breast cancer. A new study has now identified 17 “high priority” chemicals women should avoid in order to reduce risk.

Scientists from the Silent Spring Institute in Massachusetts believe their findings, recently published in Environmental Health Perspectives – a journal from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – significantly advance breast cancer prevention efforts.

“The study provides a road map for breast cancer prevention by identifying high-priority chemicals that women are most commonly exposed to and demonstrates how to measure exposure,” says study author Ruthann Rudel, research director of the Silent Spring Institute.

According to the research team, only 5-10% of breast cancers are a result of high-risk inherited genes. And, they note that about 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are the first in their family to develop the disease. These figures, the researchers say, are evidence that breast cancer is caused by additional factors.

The researchers consolidated identified chemicals into 17 high-priority groups that may cause breast cancer in women.

The greatest sources of breast cancer carcinogens in the environment were found to be gasoline and chemicals created by combustion, such as benzene and butadiene. Such chemicals are present in vehicle fuel, lawn equipment, tobacco smoke, and burned or charred food.

Study author Julia Brody PhD, executive director at Silent Spring Institute, says that the link between toxic chemicals and breast cancer has “largely been ignored”, adding: “Reducing chemical exposure could save many, many women’s lives. When you talk to people about breast cancer prevention, chemical exposure often isn’t even on their radar. Studies that address toxic chemical exposure account for just a drop in the bucket of money spent on breast cancer.”

There are a number of things women can do to reduce their risk of exposure to mammary carcinogens say the researchers, including:

*  Limiting exposure to fumes from gasoline

*  Limiting exposure to exhaust from diesel and other fuel combustion, such as from vehicles or generators.

*  Use electric instead of gas-powered lawn mowers

*  Use a ventilation fan when cooking and reduce consumption of charred or burned foods.

*  Avoid stain-resistant rugs, fabrics and furniture

*  Use a solid carbon block drinking water filter

* Remove shoes at the door, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter and clean with wet rags and mops to reduce exposure to chemicals in house dust.     medicalnewstoday.comm  5/12/14

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