Cancer News: Early radiation exposure raises breast cancer risk

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Monday Jan 11, 2010 (foodconsumer.org) -- Exposure to radiotherapy or radiation-based diagnostics like computed tomography (CT scans) in early childhood increases breast cancer risk in adulthood, a new study in the Jan 2010 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

The study involved women exposed to thymic irradiation during infancy from 1926 to 1957.  Breast cancer was identified in 96 treated in an average dose of 0.71 Gy and 57 untreated women during 159,459 person-year follow-up.

Adams MJ and colleagues from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry found women who were treated by radiation were 200 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who did not receive radiation.

Higher doses of radiation were linked to high risk of breast cancer.

The researchers concluded that "at radiation doses between those received by the breast from chest CT and cancer therapy during early childhood, breast cancer incidence rates remain elevated >50 years after exposure."

They wrote "This implies that increased breast cancer risk will remain a lifelong concern in females treated during childhood with currently reduced radiotherapy doses and for infants receiving multiple chest CTs."

John Gofman, Ph.D. M.D. a distinguished nuclear physician, had reported much earlier that 75 percent of women with breast cancer were exposed to either diagnostic imaging, test or radiation therapy.

Ionizing radiations including x-ray used in medical diagnostics, mammogram screenings, air port whole body scanning, and cancer treatment are recognized by the U.S. National Toxicology Program as cancer-causing agents.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in more than 170,000 women each year in the United States and the disease kills about 50,000 annually in the country.

Breast cancer symptoms include a lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue, bloody discharge from the nipple, change in size and or shape of a breast, formation of dimples on the breast skin, inverted nipple, peeling or flaking of the nipple skin and redness on the breast skin like the skin of an orange, according to mayoclinic.com

Breast cancer treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.

By Jimmy Downs

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