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Exposure to Environmental Estrogenic Chemicals and Breast Cancer

Philippa D Darbre, PhD

The human population is now exposed on a daily basis to a multitude of environmental pollutant chemicals that would not have been present a century ago, and many of these chemicals have been detected in the human breast [1,2]. The fatty nature of human breast tissue makes it a particular target for lipophilic as well as hydrophilic pollutant chemicals, which may enter the human body through oral, respiratory, or dermal routes [1,2]. These chemicals possess a range of endocrine-disrupting properties and genotoxic activity, but from a breast cancer perspective the greatest concern has centered around their ability to mimic or interfere with the action of estrogen [1,2]. The breast is an endocrine target organ and exposure to estrogen is a known risk factor for breast cancer [3–5].

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