Breast cancer can't be traced back to any one thing. Rather than looking for single, direct causes, we should recognize the multiple, interacting factors that influence risk.
Among the risk factors are exposures to radiation, carcinogens and chemicals that act like hormones (known as endocrine disruptors). Add into the mix your genes, diet, lifestyle and reproductive history and you begin to see the complex web of breast cancer causation.
At the Breast Cancer Fund, we focus on understanding the environmental exposures linked to breast cancer. Some of these exposures have a direct effect on our biological processes, and some have an interactive effect when combined with others. Either way, by learning how these exposures affect breast cancer, we can take action to reduce our risk.
Get a quick, guided introduction to our science web experience here:
Breast Cancer & Our Environment
From cosmetics to air pollution, learn which chemicals we're concerned about and where they're found.Learn More
Chemicals and Radiation Linked to Breast Cancer
Find fast answers about harmful chemicals and radiation.Learn More
The Biology of Breast Cancer
An overview of the breast from prenatal stages through menopause, the endocrine system, and the varying breast cancer subtypes.Learn More
Pregnancy and Childhood Exposures
The timing of chemical and radiation exposure is at least as important as the dose.Learn More
Race, Class, Occupation & Genes
Depending on where you live, where you work and your ethnic background, you might have an increased risk of breast cancer.Learn More
Low doses, mixtures, and interactions with other individual and social factors affect breast cancer risk.Learn More
The primary author of the content in this Clear Science section is Janet Gray, Ph.D. The content is an adaptation and significant revision of the 2010 edition of the Breast Cancer Fund’s landmark report, State of the Evidence: The Connection between Breast Cancer and the Environment, also authored by Dr. Gray.