Researchers and Community advocates take on breast cancer together

“Nail salon workers routinely handle products containing many potentially harmful compounds, some of which are carcinogens or have endocrine disrupting effects, yet are virtually unregulated,” said Thu Quach, a research scientist at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California in Fremont. “Many of these women work in small shops with poor ventilation for up to 12 hours a day.”

Quach heads an ongoing study, funded by the UC’s California Breast Cancer Research Program to understand possible links between Vietnamese nail salon workers’ exposure to chemicals and health risks, including breast cancer. A widespread misunderstanding is that only women who have cancer in their family tree are at risk. Quach’s research is one of many projects the program funds that are looking at environmental causes of breast cancer and why some ethnic groups are more affected by the disease.

“Our goal is to focus on closing the critical gaps in the breast cancer research field,” said Mhel Kavanaugh-Lynch, CBCRP’s director. “One way we’ve accomplished this is by making sure that our research is guided by the knowledge and experience of the people who deal with breast cancer firsthand. We provide opportunities for community members and researchers to partner together to answer their urgent questions in a scientifically rigorous way.”

Over the past 20 years it has partnered with 50 community groups on research priorities and efforts to educate high-risk women on ways to reduce breast cancer risk.