Breast cancer rates have increased by 90 per cent in the last four decades, figures suggest.
In 1971, there were 66 cases for every 100,000 women in England but by 2010 the rate had soared to 126 per 100,000, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest.
But the number of women dying from the disease has steadily declined since screening was introduced in 1987.
Charity Breast Cancer UK called on the Government to take action to reduce exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
Clare Dimmer, chair of Breast Cancer UK, said: "This shocking increase in breast cancer rates over just one generation underlines how vital it is that all the root causes of breast cancer are fully explored.
"Whilst death rates from breast cancer have thankfully decreased, still more and more of us are getting the disease. This epidemic is clearly not down to genetics and lifestyle choices alone.
"Breast Cancer UK calls on the Government to finally start tackling the growing health risk associated with our exposure to hazardous chemicals, such as Bisphenol A, that have been scientifically linked to breast cancer as well as many other diseases, and to take action to ban them.
"Inadequate action by the Government is putting an unacceptable ethical and economic cost on the NHS - and on you and I."
The ONS said that in 2010, 41,259 new cases were diagnosed, 731 more than 2009.
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in English women and in 2011 more than 9,700 women died from the disease.