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General Health : Lifestyle Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

X-ray boosts breast cancer risk - study
By David Liu Ph.D.
Nov 23, 2008 - 8:23:38 AM

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Sunday Nov 23, 2008 ( -- A new study published in the Dec 2008 issue of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that early exposure to x-ray may be a risk factor for breast cancer in BRCA1 carriers.


The study found women with a BRCA mutation ever receiving a chest x-ray before age 30 were at an 80 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to those with the mutation.


Gronwald J and colleagues of International Hereditary Cancer Center, Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland examined if there is an adverse effect of early chest x-rays on breast cancer risk in women with breast cancer susceptibility gene 1 or BRCA1.


For the study, they compared the histories of chest x-ray exposure before age 30 in 138 BRCA1 positive women with breast cancer and 158 age-matched women with the disease, but without a BRCA mutation.


The researchers found that breast cancer patients with BRCA1 reported more frequent chest x-ray use before age 20 than those without the risky gene mutation, 0.6 versus 0.3.


On average, women with BRCA1 had 1.8 chest x-rays before age 30 compared to 1.0 for the women without the gene variant.  


In other words, among the breast cancer patients, women with BRCA1 were 80 percent more likely to contract the disease than those who were not affected by the gene.


The authors of the study concluded "These observations support the hypothesis that early radiation exposure may be a risk factor for breast cancer in BRCA1 carriers."


X-ray used in medical diagnostic tools and radiotherapy are known to cause cancer.   Radiation is the most extensively studied human carcinogen while doctors always down play the risk by simply saying the risk is minimal or even no risk or its benefits overweigh its risks.


John Gofman, a distinguished nuclear physician, MD and PHD once said that as high as 75 percent of breast cancer patients have ever exposed to x-ray.


The US government admits that exposure to x-ray before age 2 increases cancer risk by 7 to 10 folds and between 2 and 10 by 2 to 3 folds. Adults are less susceptible for x-ray damage.


Breast cancer, which is largely preventable, is diagnosed in about 185,000 women and kills about 45,000 women each year in the United States.   One in every eight women is expected to acquire the life-threatening disease in their lifetime.



Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008 Dec;112(3):581-584.

Early radiation exposures and BRCA1-associated breast cancer in young women from Poland.

Gronwald J, Pijpe A, Byrski T, Huzarski T, Stawicka M, Cybulski C, van Leeuwen F, Lubiński J, Narod SA.

Department of Genetics and Pathology, International Hereditary Cancer Center, Pomeranian Medical University, Szczecin, Poland.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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