Do ‘forever chemicals’ increase breast cancer risk? Researchers at UMass Amherst launch study

AMHERST, Mass. — Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst are launching a two-year study to see if “forever chemicals’ are contributing to the development of breast cancer.

The study will explore for the first time how women’s breast tissue is affected PFAS substances that have been widely used in consumer products with non-stick, water- and stain-resistant coatings.

“Our overall goal is to understand if PFAS contribute to breast cancer development,” says Katherine Reeves, associate dean of graduate and professional studies and professor of epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences.

The university’s school of public health was awarded a $405,000 grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to conduct this study. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, almost everyone in the U.S. has a measurable exposure to PFAS, one of several groups of substances called “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down naturally in the environment.

“We’re exposed to them in a variety of ways,” Reeves explains.

In the new research, Reeves will use preexisting data and biospecimens from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank, an extraordinary resource that includes some 9,000 samples of breast tissue donated by healthy volunteers, along with their medical and reproductive history.

“Most breast cancers come out of these terminal ductal lobular units, and a greater degree of involution is associated with a lower breast cancer risk,” Reeves explains.

The researchers will measure the concentrations of the five most common PFAS chemicals in the blood serum samples

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW

Comments on this article