Who’s supporting breast cancer prevention? Get involved!

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Breast cancer is preventable.

How we live is an important factor in breast cancer prevention. Eating well and exercising are important ways to stay healthy. So are staying smoke-free, and drinking very moderately or not at all.*

But breast cancer is caused not only by our lifestyle choices. Many of us are exposed daily to many cancer-causing substances, often without knowing it, or because of choices we may make that have consequences we are not fully aware of. These include:

  • Toxins in our air, water, and soil
  • Chemical hazards in our workplaces
  • Toxins in our homes and personal care products

Breast cancer prevention is all about identifying what causes cancer, sharing information about these causes, and making sure that policy-makers, regulators and law-makers follow the precautionary principle to first DO NO HARM.

For example, it isn’t enough to suggest we all need to buy cleaning or personal care products that don’t have toxic chemicals in them; we need to make sure our regulators don’t allow the chemicals get into those products before they get on the store shelf!

The following organizations are all working to prevent breast cancer. Check them out. Find out how you can get involved. We encourage you to support their important work!

National Network on Environments and Women’s Health (NNEWH) is a research centre focused primarily on policy-oriented research relating to the impact of different environments on women’s health. Their recent work includes Sex, Gender and Chemicals: Factoring Women into Canada’s Chemical Management Plan, Women and Water in Canada and the health of women who work with industrial plastics.

Breast Cancer Action Montreal (BCAM) is directed by women who are committed—long-term—to erasing the disease. They believe the focus of research must move beyond its current emphasis on treatment to also embrace a serious search for the causes of the disease and its prevention. Recent projects include the Safe Cosmetics Campaign and Femme Toxic.

Women’s Healthy Environments Network (WHEN) works to educate the public, media and policy makers about the fact that environmental health is a key determinant of public health. Their films - Toxic Trespass and Exposure: Environmental Links to Breast Cancer - are available to order online.

Breast Cancer Action (San Francisco) is a feminist grassroots education and advocacy organization that provides information about breast cancer and advocates for systemic changes to end the breast cancer epidemic. Through their Think Before You Pink campaign, they demand transparency and accountability in pink ribbon marketing.

Breast Cancer Fund translates the growing body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns that protect our health and reduce breast cancer risk. They produce the landmark report, State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment

Alliance for Cancer Prevention is a multi-stakeholder group in the UK working together on cancer prevention. Members campaign on issues to ensure that the cancer establishment acknowledges the environmental and occupational risk factors for preventable cancers.

Prevent Cancer Now seeks to eliminate the preventable causes of cancer by creating a Canadian movement for cancer prevention. They promote legislative and policy reforms; run focused campaigns, conduct public education, and promote member and group development and activities.

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) is an international partnership committed to strengthening the scientific and public dialogue on environmental factors linked to chronic disease and disability. They foster systemic, multi-factoral, prevention-oriented actions to improve human health across the lifespan.

CAREX Canada is a national surveillance project that estimates the number of Canadians exposed to substances associated with cancer in the workplace and community environments. These estimates provide significant support for targeting exposure reduction strategies and cancer prevention programs.

Toxic-Free Canada brings workers and environmentalists together in cooperative projects for toxics reduction and a green economy.  They’ve produced The Cancer-Smart Guide to Breast Cancer Prevention, a 24-page, free, downloadable guide to the latest peer-reviewed research on breast cancer prevention.

Silent Spring Institute is a research institute that partners with physicians, public health and community advocates and other scientists to identify and break the links between environmental chemicals and women’s health, especially breast cancer. Their video A Day in the Life  examines women’s daily exposures to toxic substances in personal care products.

*To learn more about how alcohol affects women’s health, read Ann Dowsett Johnson’s Women and drinking: To your health?