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Possible breast cancer risk for nail salon workers

Peggy Reynolds
NCCC investigator Peggy Reynolds, PhD


Stanford University-affiliated researchers at the Northern California Cancer Center and the community advocate organization Asian Health Services have joined forces to conduct preliminary studies to assess whether nail salon workers in Alameda County are at increased risk for breast cancer that may result from daily occupational exposures to potential mammary carcinogens.

Before embarking on that research question, the investigators will first characterize the nail salon worker population in Alameda County, particularly since many are believed to be Vietnamese immigrant women. The California Breast Cancer Research Program is funding the initial phase of the study.

"Very little is known about this population in terms of who they are, what types of health problems they may be experiencing and what their awareness is of products and chemicals used in the workplace,” notes NCCC co-investigator Peggy Reynolds, PhD.  “We hope these initial efforts will help us design effective health studies and tailor appropriate outreach programs to promote worker health safety in the future.”

There has been significant interest in this type of study since a bill was passed in October 2006 that requires cosmetics manufacturers to report to the California Department of Health Services any carcinogens and reproductive toxins in their products. The bill, SB484, was authored by California State Senator Carole Migden.

An ongoing campaign among breast cancer and environmental advocacy organizations for safer cosmetics also helped raise community interest in possible workplace-associated health risks.

Asian Health Services and the NCCC have formed a Community Research Collaboration, in which a research institute and a community organization partner in a community participatory research effort. 

“This has been a good partnership between Asian Health Services and the Northern California Cancer Center.  We have even established an advisory board composed of Vietnamese community members,” says co-investigator Kim-Dung Nguyen of Asian Health Services. 

The organizations are seeking additional funding to continue a full study on possible cancer and other disease risks among Vietnamese nail salon workers.

Posted: 12/07/06

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