Cancer and the Environment
The IOM (Institute of Medicine) has just released a report about the possible impact of the environment on the development/risk of breast cancer. Clearly this is a topic of great interest and few facts. There are plenty of discussions and dire warnings and hysteria, but it is extremely difficult to isolate and prove that any one factor has an impact. How can you possibly separate the air we breath from the foods we swallow from the dry cleaning fluid (to pick a sometimes named culprit) on our clothes?
Here is the beginning of the article and then a link to read more:
On December 7, the Institute of Medicine 2 (IOM) released a report called Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Course Approach 1 at the 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The scientific advisory board of the breast cancer organization Susan G. Komen for the Cure commissioned the report, which involved 20 months of research by a committee of 15 experts in the field. The committee was asked "to review current evidence on the contribution of environmental exposures to breast cancer 3, either alone or in combination with genetic factors, and to review the challenges in conducting this kind of research," explained committee chair Dr. Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the University of California, Davis, at a press conference announcing the report's release. The Komen advisory board also asked the
committee to explore "evidence-based actions that women could take to reduce their risk and to recommend research for the future," she continued.
The committee defined "environmental exposures" as all factors that are not directly inherited through DNA. It found strong evidence for several commonly identified risk factors for breast cancer, including ionizing radiation, estrogen-progestin hormone therapy in postmenopausal women, and being overweight after menopause. The conclusions also identified physical activity as potentially protective against breast cancer and outlined a set of actions women can take that may reduce their risk.
"Some of the strongest evidence that the committee reviewed was the increased risk of breast cancer in association with ionizing radiation. Since medical diagnostic x-rays are an increasingly common source of
radiation, especially in young women, the committee emphasized the importance of limiting exposure to diagnostic x-rays to situations of proven benefit and the monitoring of cumulative doses of radiation," said Dr.Barry Kramer, director of NCI's Division of Cancer Prevention 4 and a member of the IOM committee.
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