Why are preventable occupational and environmental breast cancer risks ignored?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has provided a welcome focus on a condition that has risen sharply over the last 40 years, but campaigners are concerned the UK government and breast cancer charities are resolutely ignoring the host of preventable occupational and environmental causes of the condition.

To address this, campaign group From Pink to Prevention has produced a new ‘toolkit’ with an interactive webpage, posters and an action guide. As a first step it says it wants the annual awareness event renamed ‘Breast Cancer Prevention Month’.

The campaign says it “is disturbed to discover the failure of leading breast cancer charities to inform women about all the risk factors, and questions the exclusive focus on lifestyle factors (alcohol, exercise and smoking) and the 10 per cent of cases linked to genetic factors, to the exclusion of the impact toxic chemicals are having on the health of every single one of us.”

From Pink to Prevention adds: “Given that the vast amount of existing research into lifelong (womb to grave) exposures to environmental and occupational risk factors and the fact that breast cancer is a hormonal disease, this selective narrative could be seen as a barrier to official and public recognition of the right to know.”

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is backing the campaign for a greater emphasis on preventive action. Her early day motion notes “that along with lifestyle causes, better treatment and care, women’s everyday exposure to environmental and occupational toxicants is the crucial missing piece of the breast cancer jigsaw and the public’s right to know demands urgent attention.”

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