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Plasticizing Chemical Seems to Increase Risk

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A study on chemicals and breast cancer risk was done in animals. This means that the results can't be directly applied to people. Still, the research shows that chemicals in the environment may possibly increase an individual's personal risk of breast and other cancers.

BBP (n-butyl benzyl phthalate) is a chemical used to make many common items, including vinyl floor tile and backing for carpeting. When lactating mother rats and their offspring were exposed to BBP, there were subtle changes in the baby rats' breast tissue. These subtle changes could possibly increase breast cancer risk later in life.

The association between breast cancer risk and exposure to the chemicals used to make just about everything used in daily living is not well understood and is very difficult to control. It's probably impossible to completely avoid BBP. So even though this study was done in animals, it will help increase knowledge about the potential risks of chemicals such as BBP and can help encourage material and manufacturing processes that don't use potentially harmful substances.

Research has documented an association between breast cancer and other environmental factors such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and taking hormone replacement therapy -- factors that can be controlled. To keep your risk of breast cancer or breast cancer recurrence as low as it can be, try to make choices that help control these factors:

  • Figure out your ideal body weight and work to get there.
  • Get 3 to 4 hours of moderate exercise per week.
  • Eat a low-fat diet with 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Don't smoke; if you do smoke, quit.
  • Limit alcohol to less than 5 drinks a week.
  • If possible, avoid hormone replacement therapy.

Stay tuned to breastcancer.org for the latest news on ways environmental factors can affect breast cancer risk.

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