Monday, July 17, 2006

Radiation and the Breast Cancer Gene

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology confirmed what some Doctors from Europe have been warning about. The radiation exposure from X-rays increases the likelihood that someone with the "breast cancer gene" BCRA1 or 2 will develop cancer.

This from Reuters:
Women with mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 who reported having a chest X-ray were 54 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than those who had never had one, the study found.

Women exposed to X-rays before age 20 had a 2.5-fold increased risk of developing breast cancer before age 40, compared with those who had never had a chest X-ray.

"Since BRCA proteins are integral in repairing damage to breast cells, we hypothesized that women with BRCA 1/2 mutations would be less able to repair damage caused to DNA by ionizing radiation," Goldgar said. (Dr. David Goldgar of the University of Utah School of Medicine one of the leading researchers)

The major reason most of the women the in the study would have had a chest X-ray was to screen for tuberculosis before enrolling in school or as job requirement, Goldgar said in a telephone interview.

However, "if my daughter was 30 and known to be a (BRCA1 or BRCA2) carrier I wouldn't say 'don't have a mammography,'" he added.

That last statement is controversial at best. If radiation is a known factor in developing breast cancer, why would you expose women who are at a higher risk for the disease. Remember radiation exposure is cumulative. We will talk about this more next month and hear from some experts. Here is a link to the article.,,13509-2244348,00.html