Exploring the effects of environmental contaminants on the epigenome and breast cancer development

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Phoebe Maund

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Start Year

2014 (Cohort 1)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Exploring the effects of environmental contaminants on the epigenome and breast cancer development

Research Theme

Environmental Pollution

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Environmental contaminants are rapidly increasing in volume, as a result of its widespread use and production in industrial, agricultural and household settings. The presence of chemicals in the environment has been linked to a large number of negative outcomes in wildlife including reproductive and developmental disorders. Several human diseases have already been linked with environmental contaminants, for example air pollution, benzene and heavy metals. Dramatic increases in certain diseases such as cancers, which appear to be related to environmental factors have not yet been proven. Although it is strongly believed that there is a relationship between exposure to chemicals and cancer, the specific mechanisms that cause this are not as clear. One possible mechanism relates to potential changes to the epigenome elicited by chemicals both in isolation and in combination. Often referred to as ‘the link between the environment and our genome’ the epigenome, when affected by external factors such as environmental pollutants, can lead to altered expression of specific target genes resulting in carcinogenesis. . This PhD will study the impact of chemicals and mixtures of chemicals on the epigenetic profile of breast cells and investigate the potential links between this and breast cancer risk.

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