Environmental exposures during puberty: Window of breast cancer risk and epigenetic damage

Rama Natarajan, Dana Aljaber, Dawn Au, Christine Thai, Angelica Sanchez, Alan Nunez, Cristal Resto, Tanya Chavez, Marta M. Jankowska, Tarik Benmarhnia, Jiue An Yang, Veronica Jones, Jerneja Tomsic, Jeannine S. McCune, Christopher Sistrunk, Stacey Doan, Mayra Serrano, Robert D. Cardiff, Eric C. Dietze, Victoria L. Seewaldt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


During puberty, a woman’s breasts are vulnerable to environmental damage (“window of vulnerability”). Early exposure to environmental carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and unhealthy foods (refined sugar, processed fats, food additives) are hypothesized to promote molecular damage that increases breast cancer risk. However, prospective human studies are difficult to perform and effective interventions to prevent these early exposures are lacking. It is difficult to prevent environmental exposures during puberty. Specifically, young women are repeatedly exposed to media messaging that promotes unhealthy foods. Young women living in disadvantaged neighborhoods experience additional challenges including a lack of access to healthy food and exposure to contaminated air, water, and soil. The purpose of this review is to gather information on potential exposures during puberty. In future directions, this information will be used to help elementary/middle-school girls to identify and quantitate environmental exposures and develop cost-effective strategies to reduce exposures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number493
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • Breast cancer risk
  • Empowerment
  • Environment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental exposures during puberty: Window of breast cancer risk and epigenetic damage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this