Breast Cancer and the Environment Research at CCCEH

The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health is part of a study led by Dr. Mary Beth Terry, PhD, and Rachel Miller, MD, on breast cancer and environmental risk factors. Through the National Institute of Health’s Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program (BCERP), Columbia Mailman School and Columbia University Medical Center were selected as one of the six sites to study breast cancer and environmental risk factors. Dr. Mary Beth Terry, PhD, professor of Epidemiology and Rachel Miller, MD, professor of Medicine (Pediatrics) and Environmental Health Sciences, are leading the study.
Investigators are studying the role that environmental exposures play in the a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. There is evidence that breast cancer risk could be modified during windows of susceptibility, windows in a woman’s life when the breast changes in structure and function and breast cells replicate quickly. This study is focusing on exposures to a common air pollutant, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), and the extent to which exposure during these sensitive windows could affect a woman’s breast density, a known risk factor for breast cancer.
The study has three components, a human study, a parallel study in mice, and an outreach and education program. Mothers and daughters from the CCCEH birth cohort are participants in the human study. Researchers are measuring their breast tissue characteristics, as well as collecting anthropometric measures and bio samples from the adolescent girls and their mothers. Dr. Miller leads the mouse study, with a focus on the impact of air pollution exposure and inhaled PAHs specifically, on epigenetic changes in genes in the mouse breast tissue and blood that may be important to breast cancer risk. The outreach and education program focuses on raising community awareness of the lifestyle and environmental risk factors for breast cancer. They have developed education modules for teens and adults on cancer risk reduction that has been taught in schools and community settings in Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx.
This BCERP program is jointly funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Cancer Institute Grant Numbers: U01ES026130, U01ES026137, U01ES026122, U01ES026132, U01ES026119, U01ES026140, U01ES026127.

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