Making Breast Cancer Awareness Month Breast Cancer Prevention Month — Beyond Pesticides


In 1985, Imperial Chemical Industries and the American Cancer Society declared October “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” as part of a campaign to promote mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer. Unfortunately, most of us are only too aware of breast cancer. Detecting and treating cancers does not solve the problem. We need prevention, not just awareness.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, causing the second-largest cancer-related death in the United States. Genetic factors play only a minor role in breast cancer incidence, while exposure to external environmental factors (i.e. exposure to chemicals) may play a more noticeable role . For breast cancer, one in ten women will be diagnosed, and genetics may represent only five to ten percent of cases. Therefore, it is essential to understand how external stimuli, such as environmental pollution by pesticides, can promote the development of breast cancer.

  • Most types of breast cancer are hormone sensitive and therefore dependent on the synthesis of estrogen or progesterone. Hormones generated by the endocrine system – and the synthetic chemicals that mimic them – greatly influence incidents of breast cancer in humans. Several studies and reports, including data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), identify hundreds of chemicals as influential factors associated with breast cancer risk.

Chemicals involved?

Endocrine disruptors

  • DDT (Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane): A woman’s first exposure to p,p’-DDT was associated with the time of her diagnosis of breast cancer. A doubling of DDT was associated with an almost threefold risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (at ages 50-54) for women first exposed after infancy. Women at increased risk of premenopausal breast cancer (before age 50) were first exposed to DDT in utero and during infancy through puberty, but not after age 14; the highest risk was associated with first exposure before the age of 3 years. Exposure to DDT during childhood and puberty (3-13 years) was a risk factor for early (before age 50) and late (50-54 years) breast cancer. Women who were first exposed after age 14 did not have an increased risk of breast cancer until after menopause (age 50-54).
  • Organophosphates (OP): The EPA and the World Health Organization (WHO) are considering more 40 PO moderately or highly hazardous to human health. The EPA classifies some commonly used OPs like malathion, a popular mosquito repellent, and tetrachlorvinphos, a common flea and tick killer in pet collars and shampoos, as probable carcinogens.
  • Glyphosate: Glyphosate exposure has adverse effects over several generations resulting in negligible observable effects in pregnant rodents but severe effects in the next two generations. These impacts include reproductive (prostate and ovarian) and kidney disease, obesity and birth defects. The chemical had the potential to induce breast cancer when combined with other risk factors.
  • Neonicotinoids: environmental concentrations of the neonicotinoid insecticides thiacloprid and imidacloprid increase expression of a gene linked to hormone-dependent breast cancer. The pathway by which neonicotinoids stimulate excess estrogen production is known to occur during the development of progressive hormone-dependent breast cancer.
  • Dioxins: Chemical by-products produced during the pesticide manufacturing process, such as dioxinhave multigenerational consequences for reproductive health.

Most affected by chemical breast cancer

Disproportionate risks in women and children:

    • Many studies have long demonstrated that childhood and in utero exposure to DDT increases the risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
    • Many commonly used pesticides and chemical contaminants play a role in prognoses of similar diseases, including the formation of breast tumors. Recent research from the Silent Spring Institute links 28 different pesticides registered by the EPA with the development of mammary gland tumors in animal studies. Many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors and therefore have implications for breast cancer risk.
    • Household cleaners, most of which are pesticides, contain endocrine disruptors that increase the risk of breast cancer. Additionally, long-term exposure to organophosphate (OP) pesticides increase health risks and cancer, especially among women.

Gender-specific risks

Researchers suggest that the same endocrine-disrupting properties that mediate sex-specific effects also play a role in promoting the development of hormone-related cancers, such as breast and prostate.

  • Women: OPs exhibit endocrine disrupting properties that can alter estrogen or testosterone activity and receptors, leading to differences in the clearance rate and toxicity of OPs. A study 2020 reveals that exposure to acetylcholinesterase AChE (AChE) inhibitors like OPs may cause sex-specific differences in symptoms of depression in adolescent girls through endocrine disruption. In addition, this study is the first to demonstrate that, in the general population, exposure to OPs leads to an increased risk of total cancer in non-smoking women, of breast cancer in smoking women and of prostate cancer. in male smokers due to exposure to OPs.
  • Men: A study of male breast cancer (MBC) in Scotland reports an alarming and growing trend of this rare disease, particularly in agricultural areas. Although it accounts for only 1% of diagnosed breast cancers, MSC forms in male breast tissue and is often fatal due to late diagnosis and a lack of research into male-specific treatment.

Generational impacts

  • The inheritance of health problems spanning generations and linked to hereditary influence is a familiar phenomenon. However, exposure to pesticides poses as many multigenerational health risks as inherited diseases. A plethora of research links pesticide exposure and endocrine disruption with epigenetic (non-genetic influence on gene expression) effects.

Race and socioeconomic status

    • Breast cancer outcomes differ significantly among women of various races/ethnicities, with African American women being 40 percent more likely die of breast cancer than women of any other race.

The Organic Solution!

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. It is therefore essential to understand the effects that pesticides can have on the health of current and future generations. Understanding the underlying mechanisms that cause cancer is a critical aspect of protecting public health and reducing costs to communities.

Beyond Pesticides believes that we must mitigate the multigenerational impacts of pesticides on human and animal health. Adopt regenerative-biological practices and using least toxic pest control can reduce harmful exposure to pesticides. Solutions like purchase, growthand supporting organic can help eliminate the heavy use of pesticides in the environment.


Beyond Pesticides’ Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database (PIDD), Daily News Blog, and Gateway on Pesticide Hazards and Safe Pest Management are vital resources for additional scientific literature that documents high rates of cancer and other chronic diseases in those exposed. to pesticides.


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