Yesterday’s New York Times front-page story lamented that funding for cancer research is too timid and, therefore, not likely to lead to significant scientific breakthroughs.
A few pages later, op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote about how exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in agriculture, industry and consumer products, are linked to alarming health problems, including cancer.
It was thrilling to see both of these important topics—topics we at the Breast Cancer Fund talk about every day—covered in one day's paper. But the pages separating the stories only served to remind me of the disconnect between mainstream cancer research and the growing scientific evidence of the environmental causes of breast cancer.
As Kristof points out, endocrine disruptors have been linked to early puberty (a risk factor for later-life breast cancer), as well as to cancer itself. He quotes the recent Endocrine Society report that states that “endocrine disruptors have effects on male and female reproduction, breast development and cancer,” among other health effects. (Read about our take on the The Endocrine Society report in our blog post.) Yet, back on page 1, there is no mention whatsoever of funding research into the environmental causes of cancer. It’s all about research into personal habits, detection and cure.
When no more than 1 in 10 women with breast cancer has a genetic history of the disease, it’s clear that we urgently need more investigation into its environmental causes. Let’s connect the dots: the Times’ call for bolder cancer research and its call for more attention to endocrine disruptors should be one and the same.