BETHESDA, MarylandInvestigators continue to seek participants in an unusual breast cancer epidemiologic study. Rather than recruit the traditional pool of adult women, the Environmental and Genetic Determinants of Puberty study hopes to accrue 1,200 girls age 6 to 8, to examine the relationships among breast development, age at first menses, and factors such as hormonal changes, diet, exercise, obesity, family medical history, psychosocial stressors, environmental exposures, and genetic characteristics and biomarkers.
The researchers, from four Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers (BCERCs), will explore whether there are vulnerable times during development of the mammary gland when exposure to environmental agents may influence risk of breast cancer later in life.
In parallel, using rat and mouse models, the researchers are conducting animal studies to characterize the molecular features of the mammary gland over the life-span and determine how exposure to potential carcinogens during these times influences cancer risk.
Begun in 2003, the research initiative is a 7-year, $35 million endeavor jointly funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and NCI. The four participating centers are located at the University of California, San Francisco, with Dr. Robert Hiatt as principal investigator; the University of Cincinnati, with Dr. Sue Heffelfinger; Michigan State University, with Dr. Sandra Haslam; and the Fox Chase Cancer Center, with Dr. Jose Russo. Each center has a biology and epidemiology component, except Michigan State, which is not participating in the epidemiological study. For more information, visit www.bcerc.org.