EFA Medical Conference 2017: "The Environmental Risks of Breast Cancer" Presentation by Dr. Marisa Weiss

EFA Medical Conference 2017:

Dr. Marisa Weiss, the Chief Medical Officer and Founder of Breastcancer.org, provides listeners with information about Breast Cancer and possible steps that can be taken to mitigate one's risk for the disease.

Key Points


  • Dr. Marisa Weiss, Chief Medical Officer and Founder of Breastcancer.org, gave a presentation at the 2017 Medical Conference that provided listeners with necessary information about breast cancer and steps that can be taken to mitigate one’s risk for the disease.


  • Breast cancer is now the most common form of cancer in women, and the disease’s global incidence is thought to double by 2040. With more women at risk for breast cancer, it is imperative that information is dissipated thus that women know how to prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

Key points:

  • Risk factors for breast cancer:
    • Only 10% are thought to be a result of inherited gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, while 90% arise from other risk factors such as epigenetics and environmental.
  • Why is the breast the favorite place for cancer on a women’s body?
    • Breasts take much longer to develop when compared to the average organ. A female breast evolves from conception to the age of 25, final maturation occurring at breastfeeding.
    • The breast is susceptible to environmental/lifestyle factors in all of the above phases:  what a woman eats, drinks and breathes makes up her breast tissue; like a sponge for what is in the environment.
    • When DNA is copied to make new breast cells, it is prone to developing new genetic mutations, which can increase the risk of breast cancer later in life.
  • Dr. Weiss states that prevention is the best solution and risk reduction is the best strategy. There is scientific evidence that prevention works. Seventy percent of breast cancers can be prevented with smart lifestyle choices given that those choices and behaviors were started at the age of 2.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in the production and use of chemicals that interact with hormones. Some examples:
    • Atrazine is a commonly used pesticide.
    • BPA found in many types of plastics can help trigger early onset of puberty.
    • Hormones are given not only to the people, but also beef and dairy cattle.
    • Many chemicals find their way into organisms at the bottom of the food chain, but they concentrate as they go up the food chain. Thus humans at the very top of the food chain get toxic amounts of these chemicals. Dr. Weiss also states that babies in utero are at the very pinnacle of the food chain and are also exposed to large numbers of these substances.
  • Dr. Weiss then offers 16 steps to reduce one’s risk of breast cancer:

1. Get to and stick to a healthy weight: Obesity causes about 30% of breast cancers, and it is also correlated with recurrence of breast cancer.

2. Exercise.

3. Reduce Alcohol Consumption: 3 or fewer drinks a week.

4. Stop Smoking. Get fresh air.

5. Avoid or take breaks from prescription hormones. Use lowest possible dose for the shortest period, or switch to non-hormonal types of contraception (e.g., ParaGard IUD).

6. Avoid unnecessary radiation mainly as an adolescent or woman. Use full body and thyroid shields during dental exams.

7.Get enough Vitamin D.

8. Eat a mostly vegetarian diet.

9. Select your food and beverages carefully.

10. Use safe cookware, storage containers, and serving items.

11. Know your packaging: Buy fresh food, frozen, or dried in bags or glass jars; limit your use of canned food.

12. Chose safe personal care products.

13. Sleep well.

14. Once you’re mature and ready, and in the right situation, consider earlier pregnancy and breastfeeding, if and when possible. Breastfeeding has also been shown to reduce the risk of endometriosis

15. Know your family history

16. Consider extra steps to reduce high risk: Genetic counseling and genetic testing; Risk-reducing medications and prophylactic surgery.

  • Dr. Weiss ends the presentation by stating it will take a movement to change the status quo but it is feasible nonetheless.

Lay Summary

The second speaker in the subsection of the conference titled “Estrogen from Inflammation to Cancer: A Distant Link?” was Dr. Marisa Weiss and she gave a presentation titled “The Environmental Risks of Breast Cancer: Common Ground with Endometriosis.” Dr. Weiss is the Chief Medical Officer and founder of Breastcancer.org. Her presentation primarily focused on breast cancer: the causes and ways to prevent it.

Dr. Weiss begins her lecture by discussing the prevalence of the disease. In fact, it is now the most common form of cancer in women. The breast is susceptible to cancer because it takes longer to develop and function than other organs in the human body. A woman’s breast is developing from conception to the age of 25, and it is not entirely mature till the woman breast-feeds. Additionally, increased risk stems from the fact that the breast is a sponge for what is in the environment. It is important to note that there are innumerous risk factors for the disease, which can include inherited gene mutations and epigenetic factors as well as environmental factors.

Dr. Weiss states that the best solution to this global issue is prevention and risk management. She brings to light the fact that we live in a world where hormone-interacting chemicals are all around us. These junk chemicals can potentially magnify as they progress up the food chain, which can be especially hazardous to humans at the top of the food chain. Dr. Weiss also offers 16 steps that can be followed for lowering one’s risk for breast cancer. These measures include but are not limited to exercise, reduced alcohol consumption, smoking cessation, and healthy amounts of sleep. The full comprehensive list can be found in the Key Points section as well as on the breastcancer.org website.

Dr. Weiss’ entire presentation can be found at the following link https://www.endofound.org/video/the-environmental-risks-of-breast-cancer-common-ground-with-endometriosis-marisa-weiss-md/1550.

Dr. Marisa Weiss Breast cancer prevention Breastcancer.org endometriosis mc2017


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