How Can I Protect Myself and My Family?

Though scientists do not fully understand why one woman develops breast cancer and another does not, we do know that one can take steps to reduce the risk of developing cancer.


It is important to recognize that children are far more susceptible to damage from environmental carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds than adults. To the extent possible, parents and child care providers should choose foods, house, garden products, medicine and medical tests (as exposure to radiation) that will minimize children's exposure to chemicals. Ideally, both mother and father should avoid exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals and known or suspected carcinogens prior to child's conception, during pregnancy and early life, when the risk of damage is greatest.

Adults and Families:

Calculate your body mass index (BMI).

Don't use tobacco, and avoid smoke from others.

Women should have mammograms every 1 to 2 years beginning at age 40. If a woman at especially high risk of developing breast cancer, the doctor may suggest beginning screening earlier.

Storing and carrying water in stainless steel, glass or BPA-free containers will reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting and other chemicals that may leach into water from plastics.

Similarly, microwaving food and beverages in ceramic or glass instead of plastic container will reduce exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals that may leach into food when containers are heated.

Be aware of the chemicals in the products you buy for your home. You can check for harmful ingredients at the Household Products Database.

You can wear a mask, gloves, or other protective clothing to reduce your exposure to household chemicals.

Store household chemicals, such as cleaners, paints, finishes, and degreaser safely and prevent chemicals from spilling, leaking, and coming into contact with children.

Use chemicals in well-ventilated rooms or use them outside.

Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing-to the extent possible-food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

Wash conventionally grown food thoroughly to remove pesticides residues.

Reduce or cease landscaping pesticides and fertilizer use will keep these chemicals from contaminating drinking water supplies.

Driving a fuel-efficient car, biking or walking when possible, or using public transportation will cut the amount of toxic auto exhaust in the air.

Even the relation between breast cancer and exposure to electromagnetic energy (as using the cell phone) is still suspected, it is recommended to keep your call brief and texting instead of calling.

Advocate! Be an active voice in your community. Encourage policymakers to strongly support environmental cancer research and take measures to reduce or remove from the environment toxics that are known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals.


Chemicals, Cancer, and You. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, President's Cancer Panel (annual report, 2008-2009), National Institute of Health-National Cancer Institute, 2010