Workers Health & Safety Centre

Upcoming forum to examine links between work and breast cancer

Upcoming forum to examine links between work and breast cancer
A Toronto forum will examine workplace exposures that elevate the risk of breast cancer—a disease that will strike one in eight women in their lifetime.
Growing research is finding that some 200 chemicals and other workplace factors, such as night work, raise the risk of developing breast cancer. Groundbreaking Canadian research reports that young women working in automotive plastics and food packing industry are at greatest risk—five times more likely than other workers to develop breast cancer. Those working for 10 years in agriculture, automotive, canning, casinos, bars and racetracks are also at increased risk for the disease.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals, such as Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates, commonly used in plastics manufacturing are among the exposures of greatest concern. Because these chemicals can cause harm at very low doses many advocate for more protective laws which adopt the precautionary principle and encourage the use of safer alternatives. In recent years, the federal government banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, but workplace exposures remain largely unchecked.
No worker has successfully won a compensation claim for breast cancer in Canada. However this year the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board included breast cancer among the cancers presumed to be job-related for Ontario professional fire fighters. Like many workers, fire fighters face multiple chemical exposures on the job, including benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, both associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. This policy may help support the occupational link to breast cancer in general and for women in particular.
Organizers hope the event will create awareness of the work connection to breast cancer, encourage workers and their allies to develop preventive strategies and provide a forum for workers to voice concerns and share their experience.
The event sponsors include Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Unifor, United Steelworkers Union, the National Network on Environments and Women’s Health and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.
What: Let’s Put Breast Cancer Out of Work Forum
Keynote speakers: Charlotte Brody, from BlueGreen Alliance, a U.S. coalition of unions and environmental groups, who will speak about the group’s campaign, Putting Breast Cancer Out of Work.  
Canadian researchers, Jim Brophy and Margaret Keith will review their pioneering research on breast cancer risk in occupations and exposures to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
When: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto  
Questions:          Email
Cost: Free
WHSC offers a wide range of and training programs and resources to help workplace parties understand their legal duties and responsibilities related to workplace hazards including toxic chemicals. Many of these same programs offer essential insight into the information and tools needed to eliminate or reduce harmful workplace and environmental exposures.
To learn more:
Call:    1-888-869-7950