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July 13, 2006

X-rays Linked To Breast Cancer

Topics: Health Issues

CXRNLPA250.jpgEach year, more than 192,000 American women learn they have breast cancer, of which approximately 5 to 10 percent of these women have a hereditary form of the disease. Alterations, or mutations, in certain genes make some women more susceptible to developing breast and other types of cancer. Inherited alterations in the genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 (short for breast cancer 1 and breast cancer 2) are involved in many cases of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Now we are learning of a study showing that women who are genetically susceptible breast cancer were 54 per cent more likely to get the disease if they had been given a chest X-ray. If they were younger than 20 when X-rayed, the risk of contracting the disease before the age of 40 increased two and a half times:

THOUGHT to be a way of targeting health problems, the humble x-ray is now feared to increase the risk of cancer.

Tens of thousands of Australian women have a dramatically increased risk of breast cancer if they have had a chest X-ray, according to research.

The researchers said their results raised questions over the use of mammograms in diagnosing women from families known to have the BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations. They said MRI scans - which do not use X-rays - might be a better option.

The BRCA 1 and 2 genes make proteins involved in repairing damage to DNA in breast cells.

Mutations to these genes, which affect more than one in 500, leave women with a 40 to 80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer at some point in their lives.

The likelihood that breast and/or ovarian cancer is associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 is highest in families with a history of multiple cases of breast cancer, cases of both breast and ovarian cancer, one or more family members with two primary cancers (original tumors at different sites), or an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish background. However, not every woman in such families carries an alteration in BRCA1 or BRCA2, and not every cancer in such families is linked to alterations in these genes.

Posted by Richard at July 13, 2006 3:51 PM



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