The Mouse Mammary Gland: a Tool to Inform Adolescents About Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer.

TitleThe Mouse Mammary Gland: a Tool to Inform Adolescents About Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsVandenberg, LN, Kolla, SDD, LaPlante, CD, D Jerry, J
JournalJ Cancer Educ
Date Published2020 12
KeywordsAdolescent, Animals, Breast Neoplasms, Environmental Exposure, Female, Humans, Laboratories, Laboratory Personnel, Mammary Glands, Animal, Mice

Adolescence is a vulnerable period of breast development, and environmental chemical exposures that occur during this period can increase the risk of breast cancer in adulthood. Discussing breast health with adolescent girls can be difficult for several reasons. In this project, we worked to not only inform adolescent researchers about environmental risks for breast cancer but to also involve them in research studies. We taught adolescents about the stages of mammary gland development using samples collected from mice, with a specific focus on pre-pubertal and pubertal stages of development. Our analysis shows that adolescent researchers, with relatively modest training, can collect reliable and reproducible data on aspects of mammary gland biology that are known to be disrupted by environmental chemicals, with coefficients of variation < 2.5% for basic mammary gland parameters and 5-7% for more complex measures. Finally, we provided these adolescents with information about environmental risk factors for breast cancer that they could share with their peers and community and action items to potentially modify their individual risk. We hope that researchers working in this field will engage adolescent researchers in projects to evaluate chemicals that influence breast cancer risk. Summer research programs that inform young adolescents about breast cancer risk factors not only benefit these novice researchers individually but also benefit their communities when they are encouraged to talk about the value of basic science studies, discuss vulnerable periods of mammary gland development, and share what they have learned about cancer and the environment.

Alternate JournalJ Cancer Educ
PubMed ID31227995
Grant ListU01 ES026140 / ES / NIEHS NIH HHS / United States
U01ES026140 / / National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (US) / International