"For years, the The Breast Cancer Fund has fought for true breast cancer prevention—not just early detection of the disease but actually stopping cancer before it invades the body. The group focuses on getting toxic chemicals out of everyday products."
"We've been seeing mercury in face cream, formaldehyde in hair straightening products, heavy metals in lipsticks and lip glosses," explained Janet Nudelman, the Director of Program and Policy for the Breast Cancer Fund and Co-Founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Lead in lipstick, these are connected to cancer, reproductive and development harm.”
"Consumer concerns have led manufacturers to remove it from baby bottles
and infant formula packaging, but BPA could pose a risk to children long
before they take their first sip of milk, according to the Breast
Dogs can get cancer, too. And this Huffington Post article, which quotes our director of science, Sharima Rasanayagam, describes how dog cancer can teach us about human cancer.
"Both dogs and humans can absorb chemicals under the tongue. Lab animals, such as the mice commonly used in studies of toxic chemical exposures, only absorb through their stomachs. The sublingual route results in far higher levels of exposure, reported authors of a study published in June on dogs exposed to bisphenol A, a hormone-disrupting chemical known as BPA."
The article also cites our Beyond the Pink initiative.
"'The pink movement has been fantastic in raising awareness and helping people who get breast cancer to move towards a cure and give them hope,' said Rasanayagam. 'But what we would love would be for fewer people to get that diagnosis in the first place.'
'I think we have a lot to learn from our companion animals,' Rasanayagam added."
Rodale News asked the Breast Cancer Fund some "need-to-know" facts for October. Here are some selects:
• A U.S. woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer increased steadily and dramatically from the 1930s, when the first reliable cancer incidence data were established, through the end of the 20th Century
• In just a generation (since 1978) we've witnessed a 40-percent increase in breast cancer incidence
• At any age, black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than are white women. Mortality rates for both groups have recently decreased, but much less rapidly for black women. In fact, this disparity in mortality rates is getting bigger over time.
• The projected cost for breast cancer care and treatment in the U.S. for 2013 is $17.7 billion. (The projection for 2014 is $18.1 billion.) This does not account for the physical or emotional costs of often-arduous treatments, worries about recurrence and long-term treatment side effects, the toll on caregivers, or the pain of losing someone to the disease.
• Research into environmental links to breast cancer is underfunded—federal breast cancer programs only devote 8.6 to 15.5 percent of funds to research on chemicals and radiation, diet, lifestyle, alcohol consumption, shift work, and social and cultural influences.
• Fewer than 10 percent of breast cancers are tied to the "breast cancer genes"
• About 2,140 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed a year. A man's lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.
• About 39,520 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2011 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990—especially in women under 50 years old. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
In her latest Huffington Post article, Breast Cancer Fund President and CEO Jeanne Rizzo explains the urgent need to protect pregnant women—the next generation’s first environment—from toxic exposures, starting with BPA.
"We shouldn't place yet another burden on pregnant women by giving them the nearly impossible job of avoiding chemical exposures. Yes, women who are pregnant should avoid canned food, but that's not enough. The science shows us that the first 11 weeks of gestation may be the most critical window, and we all know that many women don't even realize they're pregnant until well into or even after this period."
Our program and policy manager, Gretchen Lee Salter, is quoted in the article and drives home the message that cans are pregnant women's number-one route of exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical:
"To protect every woman who's pregnant or may become pregnant, the only
logical solution is to remove BPA from all canned foods."
Read on in the full article, our full report and take action to pressure major canned-food companies like Campbell's, Del Monte, Progresso, and Healthy Choice to stop using BPA.
By Gretchen Lee Salter, Breast Cancer Fund Senior Policy Manager
Last December, I read an article about a survey of 2,600 obstetricians and gynecologists in which most reported that they don’t warn their pregnant patients about the dangers of exposure to chemicals in food, consumer products or the environment.
I wasn’t surprised.
When I was pregnant with my daughter three years ago, no one in my doctor’s office mentioned anything about the potential risks associated with chemical exposures, nor did they mention anything about the steps I could take to avoid these exposures. Now in my second pregnancy, not only did my OB-GYN not mention this issue, she dismissed my concerns as a “long-term” problems. Since I plan on being a mother long-term, I’m disappointed that my concerns were brushed aside.
It isn’t as though the information isn’t out there. It is. The Program for Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco has been warning women about the dangers of toxic exposures for years. But, sadly, most women are still in the dark about the dangers associated with prenatal exposure to certain chemicals.
That’s why the Breast Cancer Fund teamed up with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the March of Dimes to draft legislation in California requiring that this information be made available to pregnant women.
Senate Bill 460, authored by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), a longtime friend and supporter of the Breast Cancer Fund, would mandate that information about environmental health be provided to women during their prenatal care. Existing law requires that medical professionals in California provide pregnant women with a pamphlet on prenatal testing. If SB 460 passes, this pamphlet would include an insert about toxic chemical exposures. The bill would also encourage OB-GYNs and midwives to discuss environmental health with their patients.
It’s a simple bill and an idea that is long overdue. And the state legislature seems to agree. In May, the bill passed the state Senate with unanimous support, and this week it was approved by a key Assembly committee, again with unanimous support.
The bill will be up for a full vote in the Assembly in the next few weeks, where it is expected to pass. Then it is on to Gov. Brown for his signature. We’ll keep you updated on its progress.
In the meantime, I intend on keeping myself and my doctor informed about the risks and, hopefully, in the near future, my doctor and thousands of others will be the ones initiating these conversations with patients.
In Breast Cancer Fund President and CEO, Jeanne Rizzo's latest Huffington Post blog, she urges Congress to reset the clock to a time when the public was not exposed to unregulated chemicals, mothers didn't have to worry about their daughters entering puberty before they graduated from elementary school and a time when poor women and women of color didn't face high rates of breast cancer fatalities.
"The greatest opportunity to prevent breast cancer is identifying and eliminating the environmental causes of the disease, including exposures to toxic chemicals."
An op-ed by Janet Nudelman, our director of program and policy, posted on The Hill drives home the point: the "better living through chemistry" paradigm is dying, and Congress must fix the 37-year-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to save lives:
"Under the current law, chemical manufacturers have close to no responsibility to prove chemicals are safe before being used in commerce, and the government has almost no authority to ban hazardous chemicals. Under TSCA it’s perfectly legal to use formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, asbestos and other known or suspected carcinogens to make items we use every day, including household cleaners, furniture and plastics."