Experts Call for Federal Government to Increase Breast Cancer Prevention Efforts

Feb. 12, 2013

AUSTIN, Texas — The federal government needs to make breast cancer prevention a priority and place funding for prevention at the same level as other types of research, says a new sweeping report issued today by scientists and breast cancer experts.

The report emphasizes that more resources should be directed toward learning more about the relationship between environmental contaminants and breast cancer.

“We can no longer ignore the major gaps in understanding the role of the environment in breast cancer, because we are constantly exposed to combinations of chemicals without knowing whether they could make one at risk for breast cancer,” said Michele Forman, chair of the Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee (IBCERCC) and epidemiologist at The University of Texas at Austin. “We want this report to be a call to action, to bring awareness to the issue of prevention and move the country forward on this issue. This report is intended to set the stage for a strategic plan in much the same way the 1964 surgeon general’s report on smoking tobacco changed how we thought about lung cancer risk.”

The IBCERCC, which is composed of breast cancer experts representing academic research, the federal government and advocacy groups, was also led by breast cancer experts Michael Gould of the University of Wisconsin and Jeanne Rizzo of the Breast Cancer Fund.

The report recommends a more extensive examination of the role of environmental agents — lifestyle and behavioral factors, chemical and physical agents (such as BPAs), and social and cultural influences — in influencing breast cancer risk.

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has registered more than 84,000 chemicals approved for commercial use, less than 2 percent have been tested for their ability to promote or produce cancer.

Existing research points to critical windows of susceptibility, such as fetal development, puberty and pregnancy, during which environmental factors might play a larger role in promoting irregular development of breast tissue and risk for cancer.

“Our exposure to our environment doesn’t happen one exposure at a time; it happens in combinations,” said Forman, a national leader in breast cancer research. “We need to be looking at environmental agents at different life stages to identify when exposures lead to risks, and importantly we need to be looking at complex mixtures of environmental agents that occur at the same time.”

The IBCERCC report contains comprehensive recommendations intended to realign breast cancer research emphases, placing priority on breast cancer prevention. The report has been submitted to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services and to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

“We believe that the Department of Health and Human Services needs to create an action plan for addressing breast cancer and the environment,” said Forman.

Congress passed the Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act of 2008, which mandated the formation of the IBCERCC and directed the committee to examine the state of breast cancer and the environmental research and to make recommendations for eliminating any knowledge gaps in this area. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute, divisions of the National Institutes of Health, supported the committee’s work.

“Our work has presented bold new approaches for innovative research. These recommendations represent a research framework for the next generation of researchers,” Forman said.

For more information, contact: Meghan Mullaney, Biomedical Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering College of Engineering, 512 471 4601;  Lee Clippard, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, College of Natural Sciences, 512-232-0104;  Meghan Mullaney, Biomedical Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering College of Engineering, 512-471-4601.

3 Comments to "Experts Call for Federal Government to Increase Breast Cancer Prevention Efforts"

1.  Forrest Waller said on Feb. 12, 2013

Breast cancer rates among American women decreased about 2% per year from 1999-2005. Death rates from breast cancer have declined steadily among American women since 1990. Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer among American women and it appears that if trends continue eventually breast cancer will surrender its position as number two to skin cancer.

Why? Why should breast cancer receive the priority recommended by the University of Texas/Austin? Breast cancer doesn't warrant it. However, one can understand why researchers seeking grants and funding for their research would believe it deserved extraordinary priority.

2.  John said on Feb. 27, 2013

Men have just as much a chance of dying from prostate cancer as women have of dying from breast cancer. Yet the funding to finding cures for prostate cancer is less than half when compared to breast cancer funding.

3.  Louis said on Feb. 28, 2013

Reply to post by John and Forest, yes but
Prostate cancer does have the PSA Test if men will just get that and the prostate exam annually. There are advances in the tiny radiation needles to kill it and soon there may be nanobot and nanobot proteins to kill it. It turns out there may be as much as a 70% primary cause of prostate cancer from virulent strains of HPV ( that is why I gave my young son HPV vaccine). Witness that Farrah Faucett's rectal cancer was probably HPV and then her long time partner develops Prostate cancer the year after her death but no one is checking to see if it was HPV.

But a more valid comparison is If men got cancer of the Penis as often as women got Breast Cancer I can guarantee a lot more money would be spent to find a cure for that , I am convinced of Gender Bias in the male community who control the money for Breast Cancer Research. There does need to be research
on the environmental because if it is something as simple as a poor fitting bra that cuts blood flow to tissue or breathing chlorine from swimming pools (female competitive swimmers get 2x the rate) or breathing chlorine from bleach type household cleaners it would save so much money and suffering.