Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Breast Cancer News Update: June 23

Today in the news, more reason to be concerned about bisphenol A (BPA) exposure, a new kind of radiation treatment that could minimize exposure to other tissues, and the growing legislative movement to require doctors to inform women with dense breasts about their higher risk of breast cancer.

Risk of breast cancer and exposure to BPA and other chemicals

A new report released by three organizations including the EPA warns that early life exposure to common chemicals such as plastics (including BPA) and canned foods can affect breast development, which can later disrupt the secretion of breast milk and increase susceptibility to breast cancer. The problem is that today safety testing of these chemicals does not specifically look at effects on mammary gland tissue. Mammary tissue can be more sensitive than other tissues to these chemicals, and so dangers associated with exposure currently could be missed. The report authors recommend testing specifically on mammary gland tissues. Two articles in US News and World Report and in Environmental Health News.

A new type of radiation: proton beam

Proton beam radiation therapy has been around for decades. It is mainly used for radiation treatments that require high precision such as treating brain cancer and prostate cancer. Now a team in Southern California is using the technology to treat women with early stage breast cancer, in an effort to minimize side effects caused by unwanted radiation exposure to surrounding tissues. Another advantage: the treatment takes 2 weeks instead of six. The treatment is available in the context of a clinical trial at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

Should states requires doctors to warn women with dense breasts?
Dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer. As awareness grows, more states are either debating or creating laws that will require doctors to warn women with dense breasts about their higher risk and to discuss risk reducing strategies. A new law called Hendra's Law passed this week in Texas (link). In California, however, there has been opposition by medical professional societies about a law there (link).

Please check back on Friday for more news and research updates from

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