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The BCERF program on the Cancer Risks of Environmental Chemicals in the Home and Workplace closed on March 31, 2010. No further updates will be made to this web site. Please go Cornell University’s eCommons web site to access BCERF’s archived research and educational materials (

Breast Cancer - The Estrogen Connection:

Certain types of plastics can leach estrogen mimicking chemicals into beverage bottles and food containers. Scientists are concerned that even at low levels, these environmental estrogens may work together with the body’s own estrogen to increase the risk of breast cancer. Watch the video, see What you can do, and read on to Learn More About Plastic.

New! Plastics and Avoiding Bisphenol A Handout
New! Alternatives and Recycling Handout



Cosmetics Breast Cancer - The Estrogen Connection: Cosmetics and More
Learn about ingredients in cosmetics that are estrogen mimics.
Duration: 03:11


Stainless bottles Breast Cancer - The Estrogen Connection: Plastics
Learn about estrogenic chemicals that can leach from plastics.
Duration: 03:08
Playing Now.


down the drain Breast Cancer - The Estrogen Connection: In the Dump and Down the Drain
Learn about preventing estrogenic chemicals from getting into the environment.
Duration: 04:06


What you can do:

Learn the names of environmental estrogens

Minimize leaching from polycarbonate sports or baby bottles Make alternative choices

Learn More About Plastics - Bisphenol A (BPA)
By Suzanne M. Snedeker, PhD

Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical produced in high quantities worldwide. It is primarily used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics and epoxy coatings (e.g. lining of metal food cans). Exposure to low levels of bisphenol A appears to be widespread in the U.S. population. The most likely sources of exposure are from ingesting canned foods and the use of polycarbonate bottles that are worn or whose contents has been heated, causing the leaching of low levels of bisphenol A. Bisphenol A is an environmental estrogen. Because lifelong exposure to estrogen increases breast cancer risk, there is concern that exposure to environmental estrogens, even at low levels, can add up and work together with the body’s own estrogen to increase the risk of breast cancer. More detail is provided below on these topics, along with suggestions on how to reduce your exposure to bisphenol A.

Production Volume

It has been estimated that the global production of bisphenol A exceeds 6 million lbs. per year. In 2004, the estimated production of bisphenol A in the U.S. was 2.3 million lbs. (National Toxicology Program).

Major Uses

Human Exposure

Sources of Exposure

Ways to Reduce Exposure

Alternatives that are bisphenol A free


Other evidence of affecting breast cancer risk

More information is available on breast cancer and the estrogen connection.

Acknowledgements: Dr. Suzanne Snedeker would like to acknowledge her student research assistants, Kasia Fertala and Laschelle Dana-Marie Stewart, who helped retrieve and organize the references used to write this article, and Carmi Orenstein for her helpful comments on drafts of this article.