News / Health

Report Identifies Obesity, Hormones as Major Breast Cancer Risks

A breast cancer patient undergoes a mammography examination in a hospital in Athens, Greece, October 2008. (file photo)
A breast cancer patient undergoes a mammography examination in a hospital in Athens, Greece, October 2008. (file photo)
Vidushi Sinha

A new medical report cautions women that obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, overexposure to medical X-rays and hormone treatments during menopause can raise their risk of developing breast cancer. But critics say the report fails to emphasize the cancer-causing impact of many industrial chemicals and environmental pollutants - factors they believe could pose greater breast-cancer risks to women than their lifestyle choices.

The authors of the new report, "Breast Cancer and the Environment: A Life Course Approach," acknowledge that the environment they refer to is more narrowly defined than people might assume. They say it is not the pollutants in the air and water that women should worry about most when it comes to cancer-risk.

“A lot of it is what we may not typically think of as an environment, but is our most important environment. What we eat, how much weight we gain that’s the cause - of eat, exercise, avoiding radiations - things that we have known for a long time to contribute to breast cancer risk,” said Dr. Kathy Helzelsouer of the Mercy Medical Center.

Helzelsouer is one of the co-authors of the report, published by the federally-chartered Institute of Medicine in Washington. She said weight and obesity matter because fat cells produce estrogen and that hormone fuels the growth of most breast cancers.

The report's authors say it urges new measures to protect women from one of the most common types of cancer affecting women.

“There is a call for action to really put into practice... things that we know will help. So one of those things is to minimize [exposure to] radiation, especially in adolescence and when the breast is developing," reads the report.

“This report was devoid of any call to action - was devoid of anything new,” said Laura Anderko, who is a public health scientist at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington. She said the report's narrow definition of the term environment is misleading.

“To suggest that obesity and drinking alcohol are environmental risk factors, I think, really misinforms people or confuses people and creates an idea that there is an individual responsibility to why people get cancer," said Anderko. "For people who have suffered from breast cancer or family members or loved ones, it is frustrating and confusing, and creates a sense of hopelessness.”

Anderko wishes the report had been more robust and provocative, and targeted government and industry roles in reducing women's breast-cancer risks.

Helzelsour stands by the report's conclusions.

“I have taught about cancer epidemiology and cancer research for many years, and I would teach one of the risk factors and one of the environmental exposures is our diet,” said Helzelsour.

The report's critics say it is a missed opportunity, though, to urge stricter standards for testing new chemicals and regulating environmental pollutants that could pose significant breast-cancer risks.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid