Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals and Breast Cancer: Disparities in Exposure and Importance of Research Inclusivity

Endocrinology. 2022 May 1;163(5):bqac034. doi: 10.1210/endocr/bqac034.


Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are known contributors to breast cancer development. Exposures to EDCs commonly occur through food packaging, cookware, fabrics, and personal care products, as well as external environmental sources. Increasing evidence highlights disparities in EDC exposure across racial/ethnic groups, yet breast cancer research continues to lack the inclusion necessary to positively impact treatment response and overall survival in socially disadvantaged populations. Additionally, the inequity in environmental exposures has yet to be remedied. Exposure to EDCs due to structural racism poses an unequivocal risk to marginalized communities. In this review, we summarize recent epidemiological and molecular studies on 2 lesser-studied EDCs, the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and the parabens, the health disparities that exist in EDC exposure between populations, and their association with breast carcinogenesis. We discuss the importance of understanding the relationship between EDC exposure and breast cancer development, particularly to promote efforts to mitigate exposures and improve breast cancer disparities in socially disadvantaged populations.

Keywords: breast cancer; endocrine-disrupting chemicals; estrogen receptor; structural racism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / chemically induced
  • Breast Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Endocrine Disruptors* / toxicity
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Parabens


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Parabens