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Environmental Exposures during Puberty: Window of Breast Cancer Risk and Epigenetic Damage

City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA
City of Hope Diabetes Metabolism Research Institute, Duarte, CA 91010, USA
Qualcomm Institute/Calit2, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA 92093, USA
Family Medicine and Public Health San Diego, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA 92093, USA
Department of Psychology, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA 91711, USA
Center for Comparative Medicine, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 493;
Received: 8 October 2019 / Revised: 22 November 2019 / Accepted: 26 November 2019 / Published: 13 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advancing Primary Prevention of Breast Cancer)
During puberty, a woman’s breasts are vulnerable to environmental damage (“window of vulnerability”). Early exposure to environmental carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and unhealthy foods (refined sugar, processed fats, food additives) are hypothesized to promote molecular damage that increases breast cancer risk. However, prospective human studies are difficult to perform and effective interventions to prevent these early exposures are lacking. It is difficult to prevent environmental exposures during puberty. Specifically, young women are repeatedly exposed to media messaging that promotes unhealthy foods. Young women living in disadvantaged neighborhoods experience additional challenges including a lack of access to healthy food and exposure to contaminated air, water, and soil. The purpose of this review is to gather information on potential exposures during puberty. In future directions, this information will be used to help elementary/middle-school girls to identify and quantitate environmental exposures and develop cost-effective strategies to reduce exposures. View Full-Text
Keywords: environment; breast cancer risk; empowerment environment; breast cancer risk; empowerment
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Natarajan, R.; Aljaber, D.; Au, D.; Thai, C.; Sanchez, A.; Nunez, A.; Resto, C.; Chavez, T.; Jankowska, M.M.; Benmarhnia, T.; Yang, J.-A.; Jones, V.; Tomsic, J.; McCune, J.S.; Sistrunk, C.; Doan, S.; Serrano, M.; Cardiff, R.D.; Dietze, E.C.; Seewaldt, V.L. Environmental Exposures during Puberty: Window of Breast Cancer Risk and Epigenetic Damage. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 493.

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