Assessing heavy metal and PCB exposure from tap water by measuring levels in plasma from sporadic breast cancer patients, a pilot study

Anne Marie Zimeri, Sara Wagner Robb, Sayed M. Hassan, Rupali R. Hire, Melissa B. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Breast cancer (BrCA) is the most common cancer affecting women around the world. However, it does not arise from the same causative agent among all women. Genetic markers have been associated with heritable or familial breast cancers, which may or may not be confounded by environmental factors, whereas sporadic breast cancer cases are more likely attributable to environmental exposures. Approximately 85% of women diagnosed with BrCA have no family history of the disease. Given this overwhelming bias, more plausible etiologic mechanisms should be investigated to accurately assess a woman’s risk of acquiring breast cancer. It is known that breast cancer risk is highly influenced by exogenous environmental cues altering cancer genes either by genotoxic mechanisms (DNA mutations) or otherwise. Risk assessment should comprehensively incorporate exposures to exogenous factors that are linked to a woman’s individual susceptibility. However, the exact role that some environmental agents (EA) play in tumor formation and/or cancer gene regulation is unclear. In this pilot project, we begin a multi-disciplinary approach to investigate the intersection of environmental exposures, cancer gene response, and BrCA risk. Here, we present data that show environmental exposure to heavy metals and PCBs in drinking water, heavy metal presence in plasma of nine patients with sporadic BrCA, and Toxic Release Inventory and geological data for a metal of concern, uranium, in Northeast Georgia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15683-15691
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 9 2015


  • Heavy metals
  • PCBs
  • Sporadic breast cancer
  • Uranium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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