Limiting Medical Imaging Can Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Limiting Medical Imaging Can Reduce Breast Cancer RiskThe controversy over testing versus not testing for breast cancer, has given rise to a new study that reveals that limiting medical imaging can reduce breast cancer risks.

The report, released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the available data as of December concerning potential environmental risks for breast cancer, said Science Daily. Factors such as pesticides, beauty products, household chemicals, and plastics used in the manufacture of water bottles were reviewed. The study was commissioned by breast cancer foundation Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The IOM report concluded that there was insufficient data to confirm or rule out that exposure to most of potential environmental risks caused breast cancer; however, the report did find that two factors did increase this risks, said Science Daily. Both post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and radiation exposure from medical imaging led to increased risks for breast cancer.

A special article in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine details the findings of the IOM report concerning the issue of medical imaging and what women can do to minimize their risk of breast cancer, said Science Daily. “The single thing that the IOM highlighted that a woman can do to lower her risk of breast cancer is to avoid unnecessary medical imaging,” said Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, a professor of radiology and biomedical imaging, epidemiology, and biostatistics at UCSF, who wrote the article, and who contributed to the IOM report, wrote Science Daily.

Women must speak with their physicians and make informed decisions, ensuring testing is necessary as well as discussing the safety of any radiological scans to which they must be subjected, Smith-Bindman told Science Daily. Although Smith-Bindman noted that CT scans and other medical imagery have made life-saving progress in the field of medicine, women “should understand the risks and benefits and ask their doctor to explain the risks and benefits.”

Smith-Bindman suggested that patients ask their doctors if the scan is absolutely necessary at the time when suggested; if there are other, alternative tests; and for information to ensure that testing will be conducted in the safest way possible. Patients should also ask if having scan information changes the disease management process and if there is time to see a specialist first, said Science Daily.

Another new study revealed that children who received several CT scans have increased risks for brain cancer and leukemia later in their lives.

We also wrote that another study revealed that girls exposed to chest radiation have increased risks for developing breast cancer; the risks are similar to what is seen in women with a genetic risk for the disease. By the time the women turned 50, 24% were diagnosed with breast cancer. About 31% of women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene—associated with an increased risk of the disease—are diagnosed with breast cancer by age 50.

Recent studies suggest that use of radiation-emitting medical tests are used far too often increasing risks for a variety of diseases, including cancer.

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