ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
New Spray Could Benefit Cystic Fibrosis Patients
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell
Could Chinese Herb Be a Natural Viagra?
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Vitamin K Doesn't Slow Bone Loss
Exercise Key Player in Knee Replacement Recovery
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
CANCER
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Scams and Shams That Prey on Cancer Patients
Sharing Cancer Info May Be Empowering
CAREGIVING
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
Many Hospital Patients Can't ID Their Doctors
Child's Food Allergies Take Toll on Family Plans
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Drink a Little Wine, Live a Little Longer
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
Health Tip: After Liposuction
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Disease May Reactivate AIDS Virus
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
DIABETES
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Low Vitamin A, C Intake Tied to Asthma Risk
Fasting on Alternate Days May Make Dieting Easier
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
Too Much Sun, Too Few Antioxidants Spell Eye Trouble
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
FITNESS
FDA Mandates New Warnings for Botox
MRSA Infections Can Bug Fitness Buffs
Community Exercise Programs Boost Seniors' Strength
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
GENERAL HEALTH
Man Dies of Brain Inflammation Caused by Deer Tick Virus
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Tune Up Your Health With Music
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Too Much Red Meat May Shorten Life Span
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Fish Oil Supplements Help With Heart Failure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
Plastics Chemical Tied to Aggression in Young Girls
MEN'S HEALTH
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Keeping Mentally Active Seems To Keep The Brain Active
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Add your Article

Database Helps Assess Your Breast Cancer Risk

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- If you want to learn more about the key risk factors for breast cancer, such as obesity, pollutants or smoking, a database can guide you to the available evidence that confirms or quells an association.

"Breast cancer is multifactorial. It would be rare for there to be a single environmental chemical that alone would be sufficient to cause an increase in breast cancer," said Dr. Robert Schneider, co-director of breast cancer research at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.

"In many cases, an increased risk of breast cancer is quite small, and we don't yet know how each factor affects the risk of breast cancer," he said, explaining that it's similar to a puzzle. "We need to know how all of the pieces fit together, and this database begins to help us start assessing some of that."

The database, a joint project of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Environmental Factors and Breast Cancer Science Review project led by the Silent Spring Institute, includes information on 216 chemicals, diet, smoking, physical activity and weight that may play a role in the development of breast cancer.

Fewer than 100 chemical compounds have been identified as human carcinogens by the International Agency of Research on Cancer. However, that doesn't mean that all other chemicals are safe, just that they haven't been tested. And, an estimated 80,000 chemicals have been registered for commercial use in the United States, according to the database study, which was published in a recent issue of the journal Cancer.

Although many factors have been associated with breast cancer, Schneider said his top three would include the chemical bisphenol A, radiation exposure from CT scans and delayed first pregnancy.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an estrogenic chemical found in many products made of polycarbonate plastic (clear, hard plastic), such as baby bottles, reusable water bottles, food storage containers, food cans and water supply pipes, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Although no human studies have confirmed an association with breast cancer, a study done in mice suggests there may be a link. However, the U.S Food and Drug Administration recently said the agency felt there were "adequate margins of safety" for the chemical in the amounts commonly consumed.

"We don't know what constitutes an unacceptable level," said Schneider who would prefer to err on the side of caution and limit BPA exposure, especially in infants and young girls.

Schneider said another concerning risk factor is the amount of radiation people are exposed to for routine health problems, particularly from CT scans.

Although the last risk factor from Schneider's top three -- delayed first pregnancy -- isn't one people are likely to change, he said it's important to be aware of it. "In a modern society, it's exceedingly difficult to have a pregnancy before 20 when it would be quite protective," said Schneider.

Dr. Jay Brooks is chair of hematology/oncology at Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, La. He said, "When you look at environmental and chemical risk factors, you have to remember that we live in a sea of chemicals, and those chemicals have made our lives so much nicer, and it's hard to know exactly what each one does to an individual's risk.

"I advise my patients to try to control the things you have good control over. Weight is a huge issue in breast cancer, as is the use of combined estrogen/progesterone after menopause," he added.

Brooks said extra weight is a risk factor that many women underestimate, but being overweight clearly increases risk. And, he said, estrogen therapy alone used to ease menopausal symptoms doesn't seem to increase risk the way the estrogen/progesterone combination does.

More information

To learn more about breast cancer risk factors, check the searchable database from the Silent Spring Institute.



SOURCES: Robert Schneider, Ph.D., co-director, cancer research, New York University School of Medicine, New York City; Jay Brooks, M.D., chair, hematology/oncology, Ochsner Health System, Baton Rouge, La.

Last Updated: Jan. 25, 2009

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