February 16, 2012
Leah Zerbe, Rodale.com
Getting active and cutting excess body fat are two of the best ways a woman can dramatically slash her breast cancer risk — the science is clear. However, obesity, along with genetics, contributes to just 30 percent of the breast cancer diagnoses women get every year. What isn’t so clear is what causes the remaining 70 percent of cases. And a new report released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies of Science may not provide much hope of definite answers anytime soon.
The goal of the two-year-long study was to determine whether there is strong link between breast cancer and environmental factors. Specifically, the panel of 15 cancer-research experts and nine members of the IOM looked at hormone therapies, hair dyes, flame retardants, plastic and canned food chemicals, heavy metals, different types of radiation, smoking and drinking tendencies, pesticides, and industrial chemicals. Though the report authors recommend high-priority research on endocrine disruptors like bisphenol A(BPA), dioxins, and flame retardants because of the “provocative, but as yet inconclusive” evidence of an association with breast cancer, they weren’t able to say definitively that chemicals were culpable in causing the disease, citing a lack of reliable scientific literature.