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Breast Cancer Due to Toxic Exposure on Military Bases

Military bases and installations owned and/or used by the United States Armed Forces, consistently rank among some of the most polluted places in the world, as military fuel and dry-cleaning chemicals contaminate sources of drinking water, aquifers, and soil.

Everyone who drank, bathed in, cooked with or otherwise used the water on a targeted base was exposed to the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene (TCE), a metal degreaser, and perchloroethylene (PCE), a dry cleaning agent. Benzene, toluene, vinyl chloride, and other compounds were also found to be contaminating the water supply systems.

Scientists have discovered that exposure to these hazardous chemicals can have devastating long-term health effects on people, animals, and the environment. Over 600 military sites can be found on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of Superfund sites requiring a long-term response to clean up hazardous material contaminations.

If you have qualifying service at one of the targeted military bases and a current diagnosis of breast cancer, call us today to learn how we can help you. Those who may be eligible to seek compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs include the following:

  • U.S. Marines
  • Navy personnel
  • National Guard personnel
  • Reservists
  • Civilian employees
  • Family Members

The Relationship Between Breast Cancer and Exposure to Organic Solvents

There are many factors that can impact your chances of developing breast cancer. Alongside risks such as age, inherited risk/genetic predisposition, or high breast density, there are also so-called “lifestyle” risks for developing breast cancer.

Exposure to toxic chemicals is one of these risk factors. The amount of risk caused by environmental pollutants varies depending on the exposure level and duration, as well as the properties of each individual pollutant.

Military child Karen P. lived on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio from 1978 to 1986, says every member of her family who lived on base during the exposure period had experienced health effects. She survived breast cancer only to receive a diagnosis of stage 2 ovarian cancer in the following decade which she says tests proved wasn’t genetic.

What Evidence Links Organic Solvents to Mammary Gland Carcinogenesis?

  • Organic solvents can alter the functions of the body’s natural hormonal system increasing the risk of adverse health effects; they can also cause DNA damage, which eventually may lead to cancer by accelerating cell division rates.
  • Women exposed to high levels of carbon tetrachloride had an elevated rate ratio of 1.3 for breast cancer compared to women exposed to low levels.
  • Exposure to the organic solvents styrene, carbon tetrachloride, and formaldehyde have been associated with a two- to five-fold increased risk of breast cancer.
  • The organic solvent formaldehyde (also known as methanal) led to DNA damage in exposed mice. Formaldehyde also promotes the proliferation of cells and is a risk factor for cancer development.
  • Laboratory rodents exposed to a high concentration of solvents subsequently developed palpable mammary tumors. 

Contact Us If Your Diagnosis Is the Result of Spending Time at a Contaminated Military Base

If you developed breast cancer as a result of toxic exposure while stationed at military installations, whether you are a veteran or a family member of one, you are entitled to financial compensation through a VA claim, which can be a financial lifesaver. However, the application process may be long and complex if you are denied benefits.

In some cases, the VA may assume that certain elements of service connection for certain disabling conditions related to contaminated water exposure have been satisfied. For example, a former service member who served at Camp Lejeune for at least 30 cumulative days from August 1953 through December 1987, and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge may automatically qualify for disability benefits from the VA.

Whether you automatically qualify or you need to produce other evidence connecting your condition to your time on active duty, Atraxia Law’s team of legal experts can help you prepare for a claim. Schedule a consultation today to discover more about your legal options.

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