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How Carcinogens Cause the Development of Breast Cancer

Scientists have created a map with details on how environmental chemicals can trigger breast cancer. They used the ionizing radiation model to identify the cell mechanisms that cause breast cancer when disrupted. Since these findings can be generalized to various environmental carcinogens, they could help find out the chemicals responsible for the high breast cancer risk.

Although exposure to toxic chemicals contributes to breast cancer development, its effects on the breast are not well established. The gap in testing may mean that potential breast carcinogens are being used in consumer products.

Breast cancer incidence rates are the highest in Europe and North America, and only 5-10% of the breast cancers are from high risk inherited mutations like BRCA1 and BRCA2. Scientists are working to understand the role that environmental factors play in the development of the disease and ways to minimize incidence rates and prevent future disease development.

People get exposed to ionizing radiation from radiation treatment, CT scans, and X-rays, among many other sources. A lot of studies have been carried out to determine the effects of radiation on breast cancer. It’s from the reviews of these studies that researchers sought to identify the sequence of biological changes occurring in breast tissue and cells from the time a patient is exposed to the time of tumor formation. Their findings revealed multiple interconnected pathways that indicated that ionizing radiation causes breast cancer.

According to traditional models, ionizing radiation causes breast cancer through DNA damage. But the new model shows that both radiation and DNA damage increase the production of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species of molecules. The molecules cause havoc within cells, altering their DNA, disrupting critical biological functions, and causing inflammation.

This study is aimed at gathering mechanistic evidence that identifies potential carcinogens triggering breast cancer.

The team also discovered that reproductive hormones such as progesterone and estrogen also influence the biological changes that cause breast cancer by stimulating cell proliferation within the breast. This causes the chemicals that encourage cell proliferation to make the breast more susceptible to tumors, especially during puberty or pregnancy.

The research team has identified test regulators to help find the chemicals that are potential breast cancer carcinogens and discourage their use in products.

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