A research conducted at the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan between 1959 and 1967 in Oakland, California – with the children of participants tracked overtime indicates there is a link between exposure to insecticide DDT and risks of developing breast cancer.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has always maintained that DDT is carcinogenic – meaning it could cause cancer; even though most other research have found it pretty difficult to draw a line between DDT and its association with cancer.

However, the US government in 1972 banned the chemical when some funded research indicated DDT is linked to birth defects, miscarriage, and lower rates of fertility among child-bearing women. Further studies at this time also showed it affected farm crops and wildlife.

In the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan study 54 years ago, pregnant women who took part in the study and were exposed to DDT have had their daughters tracked and traced out to the present time, with many of them patients of breast cancer.

An analysis of the blood of the women that took part in the study was done and found to contain high levels of DDT, and now most of their daughters have developed breast cancers in their present age bracket of 40s-50s. The more concentration of DDT was found in the blood of the women, the higher the risks their daughters face with breast cancer – regardless of whether the women had a history of the disease or not.

This 54-year-old study is “the first to provide direct evidence that chemical exposures for pregnant women may have lifelong consequences for their daughters’ breast-cancer risk,” said Barbara Cohn, one of the study’s authors and the director of Child Health and Development Studies at the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California.

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