ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Spot light on Dani Antman New Lionheart teacher
ANIMAL CARE
Safe Toys for Dogs
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Breast-feeding Might Shield Women From Rheumatoid Arthritis
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Get in Step With Summer Foot Care
CANCER
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Broccoli May Help Battle Breast Cancer
Spice Compounds May Stem Tumor Growth
CAREGIVING
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
U.S. Mental Health Spending Rises, But Many Still Left Out
Injected Medication Errors a Major Problem
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Patients' Photos Help Boost Radiologists' Accuracy
Older Diabetics With Depression Face Higher Death Rate
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Pesticides and How to Affordably Eat Organic or Reduce Pesticide Consumption
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Green Areas Lower Health Inequities Between Rich, Poor
Vest Monitors 'Individual' Air Pollution
Radiation Exposure Linked to Aggressive Thyroid Cancers
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Sports Eye Injuries Leading Cause of Blindness in Youths
Eye Care Checkups Tied to Insurance Status
FITNESS
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Exercise in Adolescence May Cut Risk of Deadly Brain Tumor
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Imaging Sheds Light on How Acupuncture Works
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Rheumatoid Arthritis a Threat to the Heart
Kids With Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Heart Trouble
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
Eating Fish, Breast-Feeding Boost Infant Development
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
MEN'S HEALTH
Soy Linked to Low Sperm Count
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
SENIORS
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Green Tea May Help Treat Uterine Fibroids
Natural Relief for Painful Menstrual Cramps
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
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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