Younger Women Workers in Plastics and Canning Factories Face Fivefold Increase in Breast Cancer Risk
Extremely high rates of pre-menopausal breast cancer may be linked to toxic workplace exposures
For Immediate Release: November 19, 2012
Contact: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246, firstname.lastname@example.org
SAN FRANCISCO—A groundbreaking study released today found a staggering fivefold increase in pre-menopausal breast cancer in women who worked in automotive plastics and food-can manufacturing, likely linked to the workers’ prolonged exposures to cancer-causing and endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the workplace.
This Canadian study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health, included more than 1,000 women with breast cancer, age-matched with a control group from the same communities in southern Ontario, a manufacturing-rich area that, among other pursuits, supplies parts to the nearby U.S. auto industry.
Women who worked for 10 years in jobs classified as highly exposed to cancer-causing substances and endocrine disrupting chemicals—including in the automotive, agricultural, plastics, canning, and the casino, bar and racetrack sectors—had elevated breast cancer risk. The risk factor was especially high—five times higher than in the control—for pre-menopausal women working in the automotive plastics and food-canning sectors. Canning industry exposures could include pesticide residues and exposures specific to canning processes involving coating emissions, likely to include BPA.
Jeanne Rizzo, R.N., president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund, made the following statement about the study:
“This study is a remarkable contribution to our understanding of breast cancer risk. It is one of the very few occupational breast cancer studies to date that enrolled enough women to ensure statistical significance and to be able to come to robust conclusions. Studies such as this are vitally important in highlighting the risks that exposures to these chemicals pose to workers and the population in general.
“This study demonstrates what the Breast Cancer Fund has been saying for years. We are all exposed to a cocktail of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors every day that puts us at greater risk for breast cancer, and we need to prioritize and invest in preventing exposures to these toxic chemicals.
“No one should have to face a cancer diagnosis because of the work they do. These workers are the canaries in the coal mines—we need to heed the warning of this study and take measures to protect them and all of us from toxic chemical exposures.
“This study provides sufficient evidence that plastics and canning workers who come into daily contact with a range of potential carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds face serious health risks. We urgently need to enforce existing laws and overhaul our broken chemicals policy system so that workers and all of us are protected.”
The Breast Cancer Fund works to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. Read more at www.breastcancerfund.org.