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An exchange of views highlights the correlation between the environment and breast cancer

Photo group of the participants in the exchange of views with Prof. Carole Mathelin on "Breast cancer and the right to a healthy environment"

“The environment clearly has an impact on the development of breast cancer,” said Professor Carole Mathelin, a Hospital Practitioner specialising in breast cancer surgery, who has developed a research project to establish the link between the environment and breast cancer. She was speaking at an exchange of views on this issue, organised by the Network of Parliamentarians for a Healthy Environment and the Women@PACE group, as part of Pink October.

However, she added, “the notion of environment is complex, and covers several risk factors, such as lifestyle and behaviours (physical activity, sedentariness, overweight), cultural and social influences (alcohol consumption, smoking, hormonal treatment), reproductive life (age of first pregnancy, number of children, breastfeeding, late pregnancies), not forgetting chemical agents such as pesticides, industrial pollutants and metals. She stressed that the most important risk factors were obesity, alcohol consumption and sedentariness.

Professor Mathelin, who is also Vice-Chairperson of the Senologic International Society for Europe, stressed the importance of continuing breast cancer screening after the age of 70.

“Two scourges should be at the heart of every policy's concerns, and not just in October: the triple crisis we are experiencing – pollution, climate overheating and the collapse of biodiversity – and breast cancer, the most common form of cancer in women, which causes one death every 50 seconds,” said Edite Estrela (Portugal, SOC), Chairperson of the Network of Parliamentarians for a Healthy environment, opening the meeting.

Petra Bayr (Austria, SOC), member of the Bureau of the Women@PACE group, who moderated the debate, encouraged the parliamentarians to disseminate within their national parliaments the publication “Breast cancer in Europe in 10 Questions”, drawn up on the group's initiative.