FORCE's eXaming the Relevance of Articles for You (XRAY) program looks behind the headlines of cancer news to help you understand what the research means for you. XRAY is a reliable source of hereditary cancer research-related news and information.
Most relevant for: young women who use hair dye or straighteners
Many women use products to color or straighten their hair. A large U.S. study linked the use of permanent hair dye and straighteners to increased breast cancer risk, particularly among black women. This XRAY reviews the limitations of this study and highlights the need for additional research before accepting these conclusions. (1/29/20)
Most relevant for: Women with a family history of breast cancer
Eating meat has been suggested to increase breast cancer risk. The recent Sister Study looked at meat type, cooking methods and breast cancer risk in a study of 42,012 women. (9/10/19)
Most relevant for: African American women who would like to lower their breast cancer risk
The link between alcohol intake and breast cancer is well known, but most studies have involved only White women. Recently, a large study of more than 22,000 African American (AA) women found that similar to White women, increased alcohol consumption is associated with a greater risk of breast cancer. (10/27/17)
Most relevant for: Women who use hair products who are concerned about their risk for breast cancer
Past studies using mostly animal models showed a link between use of hair products (dyes, straighteners and relaxers) and increased risk of certain cancers. In this study, researchers looked at data on hair product use among African-American (AA) and White women to see if certain types of hair products increased breast cancer risk, and how that risk might differ between race and breast cancer hormone status. (9/27/2017)
Most relevant for: Women who work night shifts or have in the past
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified night shift work as a possible risk factor for breast cancer in 2007, although the majority of the evidence for this claim came from studies of animals after their normal sleep-wake cycle was disrupted. The authors of this study surveyed women from three different cohorts to examine whether night shift work can increase a woman’s breast cancer risk. (3/24/17)
Most relevant for: Women at average risk for breast cancer and newly diagnosed women
Vitamin D is most known for its role in maintaining bone health but vitamin D has additional roles in keeping us healthy. In this study, researchers found that breast cancer patients who had the highest amounts of vitamin D in their blood (slightly over the recommended levels) had better health outcomes, including overall survival, than women with lower amounts of vitamin D. This finding adds to the growing evidence for the role of vitamin D in cancer, but it does not change how breast cancer is prevented or treated. (1/10/17)
Most relevant for: People who smoke cigarettes
Cigarette smoking is an important public health issue that causes more than 480,000 deaths annually. Smoking increases the risk of many diseases, from heart disease to stroke. This research indicates that smoking before and or after a diagnosis of breast cancer affects survival, and also shows that it is never too late to quit smoking. (02/23/16)
Most relevant for: Women who use personal care products that contain parabens.
Parabens are chemicals that can mimic the hormone estrogen in the body. As estrogen has been shown to increase breast cancer risk, some people have asked if parabens found in some cosmetics and shampoos will also increase breast cancer risk. Many studies have shown that parabens in the quantities found in personal care products are safe. A recent study of human breast cancer cells suggests that in certain conditions, parabens could help some breast cancer cells grow. It is important to remember that this is early research; this single laboratory-based study does not conclusively prove that parabens are dangerous. More work, including human studies, needs to be done to understand if parabens increase cancer risk. (01/16/2016)
Most relevant for: Women with prenatal exposure to DDT, women in countries where DDT is used
This study found an association between prenatal exposure to the pesticide DDT, and an increased risk of women developing breast cancer. While this study does not prove that DDT exposure directly causes breast cancer, it serves as a reminder that pregnant women's exposure to toxic environmental agents can affect their children's risk for disease later in life.