Last night's episode of House (a FOX medical drama, for the uninitiated) featured an obscure plot that we at the Breast Cancer Fund happen to know a lot about: the estrogenic effects of chemicals.
In this episode, a young girl presented with bizarre symptoms—including mentruation at age 8—that her doctors finally figured out was caused by hugging her father and picking up hormones from his testosterone cream. And no, they didn't make this up; actual case studies of very young girls developing breast buds are detailed in Sandra Steingraber's upcoming report on early puberty commissioned by BCF and follow the same exposure route.
So what does this little girl have to do with breast cancer? For one, early puberty is a risk factor for the disease. More broadly, chemicals that act like estrogen increase breast cancer risk (recall, for example, the HRT-breast cancer connection).
The "doctors" on the show talked about the hormone-mimicking chemicals in cleaning products, pesticides and shampoos that contain placenta (also true). I'm thrilled to see this kind of messaging finding its way into pop culture, and hopeful that we're reaching a critical mass of people who won't stand for chemical bombardment any longer.