Thursday, October 27, 2016

Breast Cancer and the Environment: Story 1 of 2

This summer and fall I worked on a pair of stories summarizing research into environmental factors in breast cancer. I don't recall how I first came across the field, but it's been fascinating to learn about all the work that's been done, and all that's still left to be done. Breast cancer is a complex disease, and understanding the role of a lifetime of chemical exposures (beginning in utero) through air, water, and food in instigating or supporting its development is an incredible challenge.

My two stories highlight the work of the nation's two leading lights in the field. The first article I worked on, and the second to be published (in a few days in the November issue of Environmental Health Perspectives) addresses work done at or funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences or NIEHS (often in partnership with the National Cancer Institute, another entity under the National Institutes of Health or NIH).

While researching that story I encountered the California Breast Cancer Research Program or CBCRP, which, like NIEHS, focuses its breast cancer search on environmental factors -- as opposed to screening and treatment, which dominate essentially all other large breast cancer research and advocacy groups in the country. So I wrote a second, smaller story for UC Berkeley alumni magazine California about the CBCRP (which is housed at the University of California Office of the President or UCOP and funds a number of Berkeley-affiliated researchers). That one came out today.

Together they paint what I hope is an accurate and fairly complete overview of this fascinating field at the intersection of environmental health and one of our nation's most vexing diseases.