Information on this webpage is drawn from our 2005 report: Breast cancer - an environmental disease: the case for primary prevention, available free as a pdf, see Downloads. For current statistics and data, see our homepage.
'Breast Cancer: an environmental disease' has been produced as a:
- public interest resource - focusing on risk factors for breast cancer which are yet to be acknowledged and made part of the UK's cancer prevention agenda
- UK-oriented work which can be readily adapted for use in other countries
- general resource document - for individuals and groups planning or developing primary prevention campaign work
- general reference for anyone concerned about breast cancer prevention in particular, or disease prevention in general.
- challenge a number of prevailing views and attitudes about breast cancer
- establish a new view of breast cancer as a 'preventable' rather than 'inevitable' disease
- address the under-acknowledged and non- lifestyle factors associated with breast cancer
- inform and encourage new ways of thinking about this disease and the many possibilities for its prevention
- challenge the government to prioritise the primary prevention of breast cancer.
(Sources: Cancer Research UK & Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2007)
The social, psychological and economic impacts on women, their families, friends and colleagues are incalculable, as are the healthcare and support costs borne by society.
Fewer than 50% of breast cancer cases can be attributed to officially recognised, 'established' and 'probable' risk factors which are understood to increase a woman's susceptibility to breast cancer e.g. late onset of menopause, body weight, diet, late-age pregnancy. Only two risk factors – ionizing radiation and inherited genetic damage – are known to directly cause the disease.
However, a vast number of animal, human, laboratory and field studies, dating from the 1930s, continue to provide incontrovertible evidence for the role of man-made environmental agents in human diseases such as breast cancer. These are agents that can be reduced, modified or eliminated.
Notes: The UK includes England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. These four countries are represented throughout this resource. The content also applies in general to other countries, for example, the Republic of Ireland.
References from American sources are exact and will therefore contain different spelling for key words, for example oestrogen (estrogen), foetal (fetal), behaviour (behavior).
Any text within square  brackets has been inserted to clarify meaning.
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Reg. address: Breast Cancer UK Ltd, Solva, Southwick Road, Denmead, Waterlooville, Hants. PO7 6LA UK | last updated: 05/10/2006