Breast Cancer & Chemicals Policy

Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Investigator(s): Megan Schwarzman, MD, MPH -
Award Cycle: 2009 (Cycle 15) Grant #: 15QB-8001 Award: $234,739
Award Type: SRI Request for Qualifications-RFQ
Research Priorities
Community Impact of Breast Cancer>Health Policy and Health Services: better serving women's needs

Initial Award Abstract (2009)

One of the biggest challenges to understanding how chemicals may contribute to breast cancer is the lack of toxicity information for tens of thousands of commonly used chemicals in consumer products and the environment. Through its Green Chemistry Initiative, California is leading the effort to improve chemicals policy by requiring more information about the chemical make-up of products and the use of chemicals in the manufacturing process coupled with public access to this data. This CBCRP project will provide guidance for this policy reform by outlining measures that take into account the biological pathways that could link chemical exposures with the development of breast cancer. The project will assess both existing toxicological tests and gaps in the availability of testing measures that could be used to prioritize which chemicals are of most concern for their links to breast cancer.

A multidisciplinary team of experts will be convened to evaluate the existing scientific literature on causal pathways and suspected chemicals implicated in breast cancer and to identify significant gaps in current knowledge. They will address the following questions:

1. Which mechanistic pathways (such as endocrine disruption and developmental susceptibility) should be included in testing requirements to identify chemicals likely to contribute to breast cancer?
2. Can data requirements be structured to initially screen large numbers of chemicals to identify the more likely contributors to breast cancer for further data requirements and evaluation?
3. What criteria should be used to prioritize chemicals for testing and biomonitoring?
4. What are the current gaps in toxicological methods and scientific knowledge that limit the ability of consumers, businesses and government to evaluate chemicals for their potential to contribute to breast cancer?

The team will summarize the causal pathways and outline a strategy for identifying chemicals suspected in the development of breast cancer and how toxicity testing methods can be used by California to pursue more effective management of chemicals. They will recommend how to narrow the gaps in chemicals data, testing methods and scientific knowledge about the likely contribution of chemicals to breast cancer, and will propose a plan for disseminating their findings to policy makers, the breast cancer advocacy community, and scientists.

Final Report (2014)

A major challenge in understanding the link between chemicals and breast cancer is a lack of toxicity information—a data gap—for tens of thousands of commonly used chemicals found in the environment, in the home, in workplaces, and in consumer products. The Breast Cancer and Chemicals Policy (BCCP) project was designed to begin addressing this gap by identifying biological pathways linked to the development or progression of breast cancer and the corresponding test methods to assess perturbations of these pathways. The BCCP project’s interdisciplinary expert panel took a novel “disease endpoint” approach, starting with the disease and working backwards to identify changes in biological pathways that could serve as early indicators of toxicity. The result was a Hazard Identification Approach for Breast Cancer, or HIA-BC. The Panel developed the HIA-BC as a strategy for prioritizing and testing chemicals for their effect on breast cancer. It includes specific recommendations to implement the following goals:

1. Chemicals should be tested for their ability to increase breast cancer risk by assessing DNA damage, cell cycle changes, endocrine disruption, and altered mammary gland development,

2. Toxicity tests should be designed to assess impacts of exposure during vulnerable life stages such as early development, puberty and pregnancy.

3. Further research should be conducted to (a) better understand biological pathways associated with breast cancer, including those mediated by altered breast development (b) adapt current testing methods to be more relevant to breast cancer, and (c) develop and validate new toxicity tests, including those suited to high-throughput screening methods.

In the project’s final stage, we drafted two journal articles based on the project’s findings and submitted them for peer review. In addition, we created explanatory materials suitable for a lay audience of advocates. The 10-page booklet has been translated into Spanish, and the 2-page fact sheet into Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. In the future, we will complete any revisions necessary to see the journal articles through to publication, and we will disseminate the lay materials to the advocacy community.

Identifying potential breast carcinogens: a new approach

Screening for Chemical Contributions to Breast Cancer Risk: A Case Study for Chemical Safety Evaluation
Periodical:Environmental Health Perspectives
Index Medicus: Environ Health Perspect
Authors: Megan R. Schwarzman, Janet M. Ackerman, Shanaz H. Dairkee, Suzanne E. Fenton, Dale Joh
Yr: 2015 Vol: 123 Nbr: 12 Abs: yes Pg:

Identifying Potential Breast Carcinogens: A New Approach
Periodical:Environmental Health Perspectives
Index Medicus: Environ Health Perspect
Authors: Wendee Nicole
Yr: Vol: 123 Nbr: 12 Abs: Pg:

Evaluating Chemical Effects on Mammary Gland Development: A Critical Need in Disease Prevention doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2014.07.077. Epub 2014 Aug 1.
Periodical:Reproductive Toxicology
Index Medicus: Reprod Toxicol
Authors: Gwendolyn Osborne, Ruthann Rudel, Megan Schwarzman
Yr: 2015 Vol: 54 Nbr: Abs: Pg:148-55