Putting Together the Pieces of the Mosaic - What Do We Know About Potential Environmental and Social Risk Factors for Breast Cancer?

Main Article Content

Kate Rygiel

Keywords

Breast cancer (BC), Environment, Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC), Transdisciplinary research, Prevention

Abstract

Background: The human breast undergoes processes of proliferation and involution, especially during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. During these dynamic phases, some specific environmental factors play important roles, including pro-carcinogenic effects. In addition to the usual breast tumor, its pathologic characteristics, and genetic variants, different environmental and social factors create additional challenges to the accurate comprehension of breast cancer (BC) risk, diagnosis, prophylaxis, and treatment.
Methods: This mini-review is based on Medline database search for recent clinical studies on BC risk factors, development, and prevention, particularly at the time of puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
Results: Based on the medical literature review, some insights were provided into how external environmental factors influence BC risk, incidence, and mortality. Also, in an attempt to answer this key question, the selected chemical and physical components of the environment, as well as the large spectrum of social and behavioral elements, were analyzed.
Conclusion: It has been suggested that a broad spectrum of established and potential environmental elements have been related to BC etiology. Furthermore, a modern transdisciplinary approach to research studies, including epidemiological, biological, toxicological, pathological, genetic, social, and behavioral factors should help provide the “whole picture” of the environmental risk factors and causes for BC. This is particularly valid to medical personnel involved in women's health to facilitate preventive efforts, especially for those who are at the highest risk for this common and devastating malignancy.

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