Cape Cod groundwater contaminants could be to blame for high breast cancer rates

Oct. 7, 2013

BREWSTER, Mass. — Researchers from Silent Spring Institute have found low levels of many drugs and chemicals in the groundwater, some linked to breast cancer.

BREWSTER, Mass. — Researchers from the Silent Spring Institute, a non-profit research center, recently discovered that there are nearly undetectable drugs, pesticides, fire retardants, artificial hormones, caffeine, insect repellants, antibiotics and more in the groundwater in Cape Cod, according to an article by Wicked Local Eastham.

Years of exposure to small amounts of the contaminants can add up and cause health issues, according to the article.

"The best example is the drug DES," said Dr. Jim Erban, director of the Tufts Cancer Center, "which was used until 1971 to prevent premature labor. Were it not for the fact a very rare cancer appeared decades later we would not have known low levels of exposure could cause cancer."

With the breast cancer rate in Cape Cod 20 percent higher than the national average, founders of the Silent Spring Institute have worked to find preventable causes of breast cancer in women for the past 15 years, the article reported.

"Breast cancer studies suggest 20 to 25 percent is genetics and the rest is environmental causes," said Erban. "It's the things we do, eating, exercising, what we're exposed to."

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