Studying the Impact of Chemical Exposure on the Human Breast

  • Ever wonder what causes breast cancer?

  • How one in eight of the smart, beautiful, active women in our lives finds herself diagnosed with this disease, at younger and younger ages?

  • What if we could stop the chemical exposures that often cause this disease before it starts?

The next round of the study is planned for 2018-2020. If you are interested in participating in future studies, please follow the link below to give us your information. Thank you! 

the study

Breast Cancer Over Time and the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute have been awarded funding by the California Breast Cancer Research Program (cigarette tax monies) for an innovative community-based participatory research study designed to advance our understanding of the causes of breast cancer in time to prevent the epidemic in the next generation. The study uses a novel approach to breast cancer prevention research by enlisting healthy women, recruited by breast cancer survivors, to donate normal  breast cells that are cultured in the laboratory and analyzed to enhance our understanding of the process of carcinogenesis and, in particular, the role of common chemical exposures in making healthy breast cells vulnerable to cancer. The current study follows-up on our recently completed pilot study, and will be completed in the fall of 2020. We will be actively recruiting study participants throughout this time.

  • Study participants are young women currently using cosmetics containing parabens and/or phthalates.

  • They are put on a four week "healthy intervention" of paraben and phthalate-free cosmetics.

  • They donate breast cells before and after the switch in cosmetics.

  • The cells are cultured in the lab and studied for changes associated with decreased breast cancer risk.

Our study is:

  • Community-based because because it seeks answers to questions asked by people in the affected community (not by medical centers and drug companies that only fund research into lucrative treatments and “the cure”);

  • Participatory because the people who need these answers (you and me) are participating in the research by donating their own healthy cells and recruiting others who will do the same;

  • Innovative in that we are studying the effects of commonly encountered chemicals on healthy human breast cells (not cancer cells or rodent cells);

  • Designed for quicker answers to what chemical exposures cause breast cancer by exposing donated healthy human breast cells to environmental chemicals and studying the effects, rather than traditional research that seeks correlations between exposures and cancer only after a woman is diagnosed; and

  • Empowering women to protect themselves by providing information on what we put on our bodies that may place us at risk of developing breast cancer.

 

Our Research Team

Dr. Shanaz Dairkee, PhD Senior Scientist California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute   Dr. Dairkee is the Scientific Principal Investigator, responsible for culturing, testing, and observing breast cells in the laboratory.

Dr. Shanaz Dairkee, PhD
Senior Scientist
California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute

Dr. Dairkee is the Scientific Principal Investigator, responsible for culturing, testing, and observing breast cells in the laboratory.

Polly Marshall , J.D. Executive Director Breast Cancer Over Time    Ms. Marshall is the Community Principal Investigator, responsible for recruiting, coordinating, and supporting study participants.

Polly Marshall , J.D.
Executive Director
Breast Cancer Over Time

Ms. Marshall is the Community Principal Investigator, responsible for recruiting, coordinating, and supporting study participants.

Dr. William Goodson, M.D. Breast Surgeon California Pacific Medical Center    Dr. Goodson is the Clinical Co-Investigator, responsible for obtaining breast tissue samples from study participants through fine needle aspiration.

Dr. William Goodson, M.D.
Breast Surgeon
California Pacific Medical Center


Dr. Goodson is the Clinical Co-Investigator, responsible for obtaining breast tissue samples from study participants through fine needle aspiration.


Background

Manufactured chemicals, such as phthalates and parabens, found in many consumer products are mimics of the natural hormone estrogen.  Exposures to these “xenoestrogens” (from the Latin for “foreign” estrogen), or “XEs”, have been linked to mammary cancer in rodents and shown to cause pre-cancerous changes in normal human breast cell cultures grown in the laboratory. Building on recent studies that show that the presence of XEs in blood or urine decreases when study participants decrease their exposure to XEs through changes in diet or use of personal care products, this study seeks to measure the impact of decreased XE exposure from personal care products (such as lotion, shampoo, deodorant, and make-up) on healthy human breast cells while still in the human body. The study uses a novel methodology previously developed by research team members to compare breast cells donated by volunteers through fine needle aspiration  before and after a 28-day healthy intervention requiring use of XE- free personal care products. Studying the role of XEs in cellular changes that precede the genesis of breast cancer could provide key insights into the biological processes of cancer development, and thereby play an important role in breast cancer prevention.