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Breast Cancer and the Environment

We need women ages 40 to 65, WITHOUT a personal history of breast cancer, who live ANYWHERE in the United States to participate in a breast cancer study focused on the environment.

Studies have shown that postmenopausal women who have dense breast tissue (which appears white on a mammogram) are 3-6 times more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those with less dense breast tissue. A woman’s breast density is influenced by her genetics, but is also affected by her reproductive and lifestyle choices. Environmental factors may play a role as well. Researchers believe that cadmium, a heavy metal that occurs naturally in the earth’s crust, could have an impact on breast density. Cigarette smoke contains cadmium; so can food and water. For most people, food and cigarette smoke are the largest potential sources of cadmium exposure.

The researchers for this study want to see if there is a relationship between a woman’s cadmium levels (which can be measured in urine) and her breast density.

Please read on to learn more about what’s involved and who can participate. If this study isn’t right for you, please pass it on! You can help us reach as many eligible women as possible!

What’s the study about?

The purpose of this study is to investigate whether cadmium, a heavy metal found in the environment, is related to breast density. The researchers will analyze urine samples from participants and measure the amount of cadmium, as well as other heavy metals. The researchers will also review recent mammography reports from participants to collect data on breast density.

Participating women also have the option to provide a saliva sample. The saliva samples will be stored for future DNA studies (for example, to better understand how genetics is related to breast density and measured levels of cadmium).

What’s involved?

If you sign up for the Environmental Exposures and Breast Density study, the research team will contact you by Email to confirm that you are eligible for the study. If you decide to participate in the study, you will be asked to do the following:

• Sign and initial the consent form.
• Obtain a copy of the mammography report, also called a radiology report, from your most recent mammogram.
• Complete a health and lifestyle survey.
• Provide a urine sample; the research team will mail the urine collection kit to you.
• Provide a saliva sample; the research team will mail the saliva collection kit to you (optional).
• Return all of the items to the research team by mail, at no cost to you.


Who is conducting the study?

Polly Newcomb, PhD, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, Madison, Wisconsin, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington


Anywhere in the United States; all necessary participation is handled through the US mail.

Who can participate?

You can sign up for the Environmental Exposure and Breast Density study if you meet ALL of these MAIN criteria:

• You are a woman between the ages of 40-65,
• You had a mammogram within the past 18 months,
• You do not have a personal history of breast cancer,
• You do not have a personal history of ANY cancer that was treated with chemotherapy,
• You have never had a breast reduction or breast implants,
• You live in the United States.

Signing up for the study is voluntary and none of the information on the RSVP form is stored. After you respond, the research team will contact you by email to ask additional questions to be sure that the study is a good fit for you.

Get Involved

Grow the Army of Women

Karen said...

I tried to sign up but couldn’t because I haven’t had one in 18 months.However,I am overdue and will be scheduling one.Is there any way I can sign up?

Lynn said...

This is the type of study that most needs to be supported. As you know, the incidence of breast cancer increased in the 1970s and has not returned to pre-1970 levels, despite research in individual behavior changes that may contribute to a lower incidence of cancer. Unless women have undergone a genetic change, the epidemic of cancer, and specifically breast cancer, must have environmental roots. I urge the Love Foundation to focus its cancer prevention on environmental contributions.

Dr. Lynn Nielsen-Bohlman

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