American Medical Women’s Association speaks out about endocrine disruption and breast cancer risk


In a recent joint statement with the Breast Cancer Fund, the American Medical Women’s Association called for a reduction of exposures to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and urged physicians and healthcare providers to educate the public and their own patients about ways to avoid chemicals linked to endocrine disruption.

They’re not the first professional medical association to speak out about endocrine-disrupting chemicals, and we hope not the last. The American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have all adopted chemical policies in response to the strong scientific evidence linking chemical exposures to health problems like breast cancer.

Endocrine-disrupting compounds are used in everyday products—plastics, cleaning products, cosmetics—and can affect the body’s development, growth and hormone balance by mimicking, blocking or disrupting the body’s natural hormones. They can alter hormone receptors, estrogen-related receptors or can influence epigenetics (ie. gene expression).

One of the most striking examples of an effect of exposure to an EDC is the legacy of diethylstilbestrol (DES), a synthetic estrogen that was prescribed to prevent miscarriage from 1947 to 1970. DES was not effective at preventing miscarriage and it led to an increased incidence of rare vaginal cancers in the daughters of women who took the drug. Both the mothers who took the drug and their daughters who were exposed to DES in the womb have higher than average rates of breast cancer.

Another example, bisphenol A, is one of the most common chemicals we’re exposed to each day, and it’s in everything from food and drink containers to dental fillings. BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the hormone system, particularly when exposures occur while babies are still in the womb or in early life. Even miniscule exposures have been linked to increased risks for breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility, early puberty, metabolic disorders and type-2 diabetes. Some BPA alternatives, such as BPS, have come on the market, but have yet to be proven safe. The FDA has banned BPA from baby bottles and infant formula packaging.

Chemicals and hormones in food are another major concern. The European Union banned the herbicide, Atrazine in 2005, but in the United States more than 75 million pounds of it is applied to corn and sorghum crops each year. The toxic stuff seeps into groundwater and drinking water, and has been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. (Scientific studies also show that atrazine changes the sex of male frogs.) Zeranol, which is used extensively in the United States and Canada to promote rapid and more efficient growth rates in animals used as sources of meat, is of special concern for breast cancer because it mimics the hormone estradiol. Cancer cells exposed to zeranol show significant increases in cancer growth.

Given all that we know about how toxic chemical exposures can harm people, it is absolutely appropriate for healthcare providers to inform patients about how to avoid dangerous chemicals that can be found in things like cosmetics, food packaging and cleaning products. We applaud the American Medical Women’s Association for taking this step, and believe it can help pave the way for substantive chemicals policy reform by government and businesses alike.


8 thoughts on “American Medical Women’s Association speaks out about endocrine disruption and breast cancer risk

  1. On my newsletter Healthy Home Solutions at I educate people about toxic chemicals in homes. My target audience is women and especially emphasize creating non toxic homes for the health of all members of the family, especially children. Rates of autism and ADHD, childhood cancers,
    obesity and many more illnesses have radically increased within the
    last 30 or so years. We put ourselves and our children at high risk
    by using toxic products we live with everyday.

    There are 80,000 some chemicals in common use today that have never been tested to reveal their impacts on human health, not to mention on our entire environment. We have to fight to rein in the chemical industries.

  2. Not surprising given the fact that nearly everything humans use today is toxic! When local, state and federal governments bend over to approve nearly every pesticide and herbicide known to man, it only takes a fool like myself to recognize that it will not be long now before every living thing is poisoned out of existence! And to add insult to injury, our government agencies are broken and DO NOT protect anything except those corporations producing these ghastly poisons and, of course, their own jobs. Don’t they realize they will not survive either? How to STOP this madness is beyond what I can do as one person who truly wants to leave earth better than I found it. Please protect my grandchildren and great grandchildren from humans who do not care!

  3. Thank you. I have been saying for years that my breast cancer wa caused by BPA. Thanks for getting the truth out there.

  4. How about health care workers who are exposed to chemotherapy drugs which are highly toxic and can cause cancer. Spills occur. Even body fluids from cancer patients receiving chemo contain these drugs and are hazardous. What about the other workers in these facilities…those who clean the clinics and hospitals. How are they all protected?

  5. There are an amazing number of additives to the products women use each day that are endocrine disrupters. Women should be loudly made aware of them. thank you!

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