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Chest X-ray for under 20s may double the risk of breast cancer
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Roman Bystrianyk
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Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 454

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:31 pm    Post subject: Chest X-ray for under 20s may double the risk of breast cancer Reply with quote

Sam Lister, "Chest X-ray for under 20s may double the risk of breast
cancer", Sunday Times, June 27, 2006,
Link: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2244348,00.html

PEOPLE with a family history of breast cancer may unknowingly increase
their risk of developing the disease through exposure to radiation from
chest X-rays, research suggests.

A study of 1,600 women with BRCA 1 and 2 mutations - defective genes
linked to breast cancer - found they were 54 per cent more likely to
suffer the disease if they had ever had a chest X-ray.

More worryingly, for women given chest X-rays before the age of 20, the
risk of developing breast cancer before their 40th birthday was 2
times greater.

The scientists said that the findings, if confirmed by further
research, suggested the need for at-risk women to seek alternative
methods of breast screening.

David Goldgar, who led the investigation while heading the Genetic
Epidemiology Group at the International Agency for Research on Cancer
in Lyons, France, said: "This is one of the first studies to
demonstrate that women genetically predisposed to breast cancer may be
more susceptible to low-dose ionising radiation than other women. If
(the findings are) confirmed in prospective studies, young women who
are members of families known to have BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutations may
wish to consider alternatives to X-rays, such as MRI (magnetic
resonance imaging)."

BRCA 1 and 2 are genes that make proteins involved in repairing damage
to DNA in breast cells. X-rays disrupt DNA, but as long as the
radiation dose is not too high the damage is naturally repaired. Cancer
cells do not have the same self-repair ability, which is why X-rays are
used in radiotherapy to destroy cancer.

"Since BRCA proteins are integral in repairing damage to breast
cells, we hypothesised that women with BRCA 1/2 mutations would be less
able to repair damage caused to DNA by ionising radiation," Dr
Goldgar said.

"Our findings support this hypothesis and stress the need for
prospective studies."

The researchers analysed questionnaires completed by more than 1,600
women taking part in the International BRCA 1/2 Carrier Cohort Study
(IBCCS) - a major European investigation of women with BRCA

While all the women carried the mutations, not all developed breast

The women were asked whether they had ever had chest X-rays and, if so,
whether it was before or after the age of 20.

The findings were published yesterday in the Journal of Clinical

Inheriting a copy of either BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 means that a woman has an
80 per cent chance of developing breast cancer before the age of 70, as
against a chance of about 10 per cent for other women.

However, only a small percentage of breast cancers are linked to the
genes. Gene testing is recommended only for women with a strong family
history of breast cancer - two close relatives who had the disease,
or one who developed it very young.

Identifying the gene gives women the option of more frequent screening
or even removal of the breasts.

Emma Pennery, nurse consultant at the charity Breast Cancer Care, said:
"While excessive radiation exposure is an established risk factor for
breast cancer, especially in younger people, this is one of the first
studies to look at the effects of low doses . . . trials are needed to
further investigate this."
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