Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Canadian women, accounting for about 30% of all new cancer cases each year. Although the incidence of breast cancer has increased over the past 50 years, the cause of this rise is unknown. Risk factors for breast cancer may be classified into four broad categories: (1) genetic/familial, (2) reproductive/hormonal, (3) lifestyle, and (4) environmental. Established risk factors for breast cancer include older age, later age at first full-term pregnancy, no full-term pregnancies, postmenopausal obesity, and genetic factors. However, these known risk factors cannot account for the majority of cases. In the early 1990s, it was suggested that exposure to some environmental chemicals such as organochlorine compounds may play a causal role in the etiology of breast cancer through estrogen-related pathways. The relationship between organochlorines and breast cancer risk has been studied extensively in the past decade and more, and at this point there is no clear evidence to support a causal role of most organochlorine pesticides in the etiology of human breast cancer, but more evidence is needed to assess risk associated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Future studies need to consider the combined effects of exposures, concentrate on vulnerable groups such as those with higher levels of exposure, only consider exposures occurring during the most etiologically relevant time periods, and more thoroughly consider gene-environment interactions.