PFAS, Phenols, and Parabens: Links to Hormone-Mediated Cancers

October 19, 2023
2:00 pm US Eastern Time

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A number of cancers are hormone-mediated. These include prostate, breast, ovarian, endometrial, testicular, and thyroid cancer, as well as melanoma. Many industrial chemicals found in consumer products and in the environment are endocrine disruptors, and could influence risk of hormone-mediated cancers. 

Dr. Max Aung presented the results of a recent study that examined the relationship between certain chemicals and risk of hormone-mediated cancers. Specifically, the study examined current levels of phenols, parabens, and PFAS chemicals in blood and urine of study participants, and examined the relationship between those exposure levels and past diagnosis of a hormone-mediated cancer. The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for the period 2005 to 2018. 

The study found a relationship between exposure to these chemicals and increased likelihood of a past diagnosis of one of the cancers. For example, for women, the study found a positive association between several biomarkers of PFAS exposure and melanoma. The study also found positive associations between certain PFAS and phenols and ovarian cancer. The study highlights racial disparities in exposures to certain toxicants, and points to the need for greater surveillance of certain chemical exposures and regulatory action to reduce or eliminate these exposures. 

The webinar was moderated by Génon Jensen, Founder and Executive Director of the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

Featured Speaker

Max Aung, MPH, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Environmental Health at the University of Southern California and a JPB Environmental Health Fellow through Harvard University. Dr. Aung is an alumnus of the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice Fellowship as well as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Research Scholars Fellowship. His research focuses on applying data science frameworks to understand potential mechanisms linking chemical mixtures to health across the life course and pursue environmental justice. He specifically integrates multiple hierarchies of exogenous and endogenous biomarkers, including biomonitored toxicant exposures, targeted bioactive lipids, and untargeted lipidomics and metabolomics. His current funded projects focus on integrating these biomarkers in diverse prospective cohorts to better understand mechanisms linking the human exposome to maternal health outcomes, child development, and mental health.

This webinar was hosted by the EDC Strategies Partnership, which is co-chaired by Sharyle Patton (Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center), Jerry Heindel and Sarah Howard (Environmental Health Sciences' Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies HEEDS), Génon Jensen (Health and Environment Alliance, HEAL), and Rachel Massey (CHE, Collaborative for Health and Environment). To see a full list of past calls and webinars related to EDCs and listen to or view recordings, please visit our partnership page. 

This webinar was brought to you in partnership with the UCSF EaRTH Center. The study was funded by a Cancer and Environmental Health pilot grant through the UCSF EaRTH Center and the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.