Focus on Preventing Cancer | Seventh Generation
Skip to Content
  • Pin It

Focus on Preventing Cancer

Categories:
7 comments
Author: Seventh Generation

by Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., is president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund

To what lengths will women go to prevent breast cancer from striking their lives and robbing them of time spent with loved ones?

On Tuesday Angelina Jolie informed the world that she underwent an elective double mastectomy. As a carrier of the "breast cancer gene" mutation, or BRCA, Jolie reports that she has now reduced her risk of developing breast cancer from 87 percent to under five. "I can tell my children that they don't need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer," Jolie wrote in the New York Times.

Thousands of women each year face decisions like Jolie's. But what if fewer women had to?

The inherited mutation in the BRCA gene that Jolie carries is relatively rare. Only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer incidences have a genetic link, meaning that the vast majority of breast-cancer cases diagnosed cannot be attributed to an unfortunate family inheritance. And for women with the BRCA gene mutation, those born after 1940 have a tripled risk of breast cancer at age 50 than women born before 1940.

What has happened to cause such a change within a generation? What factors trigger the cancer to develop? And why do so many women with no genetic history get breast cancer?

Decades of scientific evidence points to modern living as a major culprit. In our daily lives we are exposed to toxic chemicals and radiation from a wide range of sources, including cleaning and personal-care products, plastics, food, air, water, medical treatments, our workplaces and our neighborhoods. A large and growing body of scientific evidence tells us that some of these exposures can increase breast-cancer risk. I was part of a federal advisory committee that in February released a report concluding that identifying and eliminating the environmental causes of breast cancer presents the greatest opportunity to prevent the disease and calling for a national prevention plan.

It is a great failure of the more-than-40-year-old "War on Cancer" that such a national prevention plan doesn't exist. So, in the absence of a strong national commitment to finding out why so many women get breast cancer, the burden of trying to prevent the disease falls on the shoulders of individual women making difficult choices.

That burden is unacceptable. We need to develop a federal research agenda that prioritizes investment in the study of chemical agents that contribute to the disease, and public health measures to reduce exposures. Congress and businesses need to end the public health disaster that permits chemicals to be found in everyday products such as cosmetics, lotions, household cleaners, and canned foods. Steps must be taken to protect young girls from entering puberty too early. We must prioritize finding a new tool to test for breast cancer, rather than dosing women with radiation, which causes cancer.

Jolie said she felt empowered that she made a "strong choice" for her life. Let's be inspired by her strength and bravery. Let's commit to making a national prevention strategy that will mean that our daughters can focus their bravery and strength in other areas.

 

Photo: Malena Rubinkas

7
Comments

yamato picture
yamato
07/14/13
Wow! Angelina Jolie is one of my favorite actress in the Hollywood stars. That is very essential information. Thank you for posting. more posts. <a href="http://www.purchasefacebooklikes.org/">buy facebook likes</a> <a href="http://www.instahustle.com/">get instagram Comment</a>
Practical Shopper picture
Practical Shopper
06/20/13
I am continually frustrated by how few women are aware of the link between artificial birth control and breast cancer. The government will not proclaim the results of it's own studies because there is simply too much money involved between birth control/abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood and politicians. Politicians are also so afraid of the truth because they don't want to hurt "women's rights". What about our right to know what is causing the most aggressive form of breast cancer? There are safe, natural and effective methods of pregnancy control- they just aren't profitable. Here is a link to a report on the recent Federal study confirming the link: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/tim-drake/federal_study_confirms_contraception-breast_cancer_link
CleanEats picture
CleanEats
06/10/13
I would like to share this link which addresses the connection of iodine deficiency and the rise in breast cancer. I prefer to get my iodine through food...Organic Sea lettuce flakes and Dulse granules sprinkled over salad like any seasoning. Eat clean folks! http://www.vitamincfoundation.org/iodine.htm
Christina112 picture
Christina112
05/31/13
I was diagnosed in October 2011 with a triple negative breast cancer and had the BRCA test done, because there was no family history of any kind.It was negative. My niece ( sister's daughter ) was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in January 2013...Her BRCA test was negative as well. Coincidence ?another mutated gene they don't know about ? Or just bad luck living in VA ? I am sure that the environment has everything to do with breast cancer or any other cancer. The additives and colors and substances no human being can pronounce or spell are in our food supplies and cleaners and personal items. Through nutritious and clean fruits and vegetables we can prevent so many diseases. The worst foods are the cheapest, keeping most people held hostage by them. When will there be support for organic farming so the prices can come down and everyone can afford them. When will there be tougher regulation on pesticides and poisons on our plant foods, hormons and antibiotics in our live stock ? I have completely changed my eating habits and buy organic and feel great. Do I know if it helps prevent more cancer? I have no idea. But I can control what I eat and that gives me piece of mind. You ask if it is expensive ? If you plan your meals and stop buying processed foods and meats, it will offset buying whole grains, vegetables, fruits and organic meats. LIVE LIFE WELL !!
greenergirl picture
greenergirl
05/27/13
There needs to be more research into the causes (other than BRCA gene). I suspect toxins and other environmental causes may contribute to the cause. I've read about links between antiperspirants and breast cancer, and who know what else?
MotherLodeBeth picture
MotherLodeBeth
05/23/13
Bear in mind Angelina Jolie's mother, grandmother and great-grandmother had breast cancer and the BRCA gene. That is four generations of breast cancer. Not the case where a woman finds she has breast cancer and there was no history of breast cancer. Key word being history. Back in the early 90's my sister had her breasts removed a month after I had had mine removed. Again its a family history not something that has only shown up in the last forty or so years. The other issue with a BRCA gene like Angelina Jolie has is the risk of cancer of the ovaries is even higher, which is why one may also choose to have a second operation to remove ones ovaries.
paints8186 picture
paints8186
05/23/13
"What has happened to cause such a change within a generation?" I'll tell you what happened. 'Better living through chemistry,'that's what happened. Chemicals in our food, in our air, in our water. Chemicals in the clothes we wear. The question isn't 'what happened?' The question is 'Who profits?'