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 facts:
- Breast cancer is the major cancer affecting women.
- It is the most common cancer in the UK.
- Breast cancer kills more than 1,000 women every month.
- The chance of getting breast cancer rose from 1 in 12 to 1 in 9 between 1996 and 2001.
- In any one year the disease affects almost 250,000 women in the UK.
- Fewer than 50 per cent of the cases of breast cancer can be attributed to official risk factors e.g. late onset of menopause, early onset of menstruation, genetic predisposition, body weight, diet, late-age pregnancy.
- Girls are reaching puberty earlier. Toxicologists believe this could be due to chemicals changing the body's hormonal balance. Earlier puberty is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer later in life.
- Breast cancer was relatively rare until the mid 20th century.
Breast cancer and chemicals:
- More than 500 manufactured chemicals found in our environment, e.g. detergents, plastics, pesticides, are known to mimic and disrupt hormones, thus having the potential to contribute to the onset and progression of hormone-dependent cancers like breast cancer.
- Scientists have known about the connection between dietary contaminants and cancers for many years, yet 95% of dioxin (a known human carcinogen) which humans absorb enters our bodies through our food.
- Most fish sold in European supermarkets would be banned if fish had the same limits for dioxin as milk, eggs and meat.
- Risk assessment of chemical exposure is geared to what affects male adults – not children. This is despite the widely acknowledged fact that children are more vulnerable to toxic substances, and are affected by smaller concentrations.
- On 3rd September, the Standing Committee of European Doctors adopted a policy stating: "It has now been scientifically demonstrated that there is indeed a link between chemical products and the appearance of diseases such as cancers."
Full document: CPME_AD_Brd_030905_100_EN.pdf (pdf document)
Chemicals and babies:
- Children are born with a toxic burden from the womb. Analysis of blood from the umbilical cords of new-born babies – released September 2005 by the Worldwide Fund for Nature UK and Greenpeace – found a cocktail of chemicals, many of which are suspected of links to health problems ranging from birth defects and genital abnormalities to certain types of cancer.
See "A Present for Life: hazardous chemicals in cord blood" at www.panda.org/detox and www.greenpeace.org/toxics
- More than 350 man-made contaminants have been found in human breast milk. Any chemical stored in human body fat can potentially transfer to the newborn infant during breast feeding, making human breast milk 'the most chemically-contaminated food on the planet'. However, it remains the best option for feeding babies.
contact us | about us | a campaign of Breast Cancer UK reg. charity number: 1138866 in England & Wales; reg. company number: 7348408|
Reg. address: Breast Cancer UK Ltd, Solva, Southwick Road, Denmead, Waterlooville, Hants. PO7 6LA UK | last updated: 20/01/2007