Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project (Past Initiative)

The Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project (LIBCSP) is a multistudy effort to investigate whether environmental factors are responsible for breast cancer in Suffolk and Nassau counties (Long Island), NY, as well as in Schoharie County, NY, and Tolland County, CT. The investigation began in 1993 under Public Law 103-43, with funding and coordination provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in collaboration with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

Collectively, the LIBCSP consists of more than 10 studies and the development of a research tool – the Geographic Information System for Breast Cancer Studies on Long IslandExternal Web Site Policy (LI GIS). The studies include human population (epidemiologic) research projects, the establishment of a family breast and ovarian cancer registry, and laboratory research on mechanisms of action and susceptibility in development of breast cancer.

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Findings from all of the studies have been reported. In summary, the LIBCSP studies have not identified any environmental factors that could be responsible for the elevated incidence of breast cancer on Long Island or the other locations. There were a few suggestions of associations between certain exposures and increased risk of breast cancer, but these observations would need to be confirmed in other population studies. No association was found between exposure to organochlorine compounds and increased risk of breast cancer. The compounds examined included the pesticides DDT (and its metabolite DDE), dieldren, and chlordane, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

PCBs are a group of organochlorine compounds found in coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment, and some consumer products. The use of DDT and of PCBs in new equipment have been banned in the United States since the 1970s although both chemical compounds persist in the environment.

The LIBCSP investigators also found that exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) was not associated with increased risk of breast cancer.

To learn more about the LIBCSP, readers may be interested in the review paper "Science and Society: The Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project," Nature Reviews Cancer 2005 Dec;5(12):986-94.

In addition, NCI and NIEHS continue to support research on breast cancer and the environment. Readers may be interested in learning about the four Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers (BCERCs) that have been funded by the two Institutes since 2003. This innovative project focuses on determinants of puberty in young girls and in animal models, and the effect of environmental factors on the process. This developmental window is thought to be important in breast cancer.

Additional links for breast cancer information: