The Global Fool

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Breast Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention
Jan17

Breast Cancer: Risk Factors and Prevention

By Roberta Attanasio Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.  How can it be prevented? Let’s take a look at some of the answers available today (January 17, 2014). First of all, what is cancer prevention? According to the National Cancer Institute “Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer. By preventing cancer, the number of new cases of cancer in a group or population is lowered. Hopefully, this will lower the number of deaths caused by cancer.” A little more….. “To prevent new cancers from starting, scientists look at risk factors and protective factors. Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor.” In other words, to prevent cancer, you should avoid risk factors and become friends with protective factors. A few pages later, the National Cancer Institute tells us that breast cancer risk factors are Estrogen (made in the body), Combination hormone replacement therapy/Hormone therapy, Exposure to Radiation, Obesity, Alcohol, Inherited Risk, whereas breast cancer protective factors are estrogen-only hormone therapy for postmenopausal women. Exercise, Estrogen (decreased exposure), Selective estrogen receptor modulators, Aromatase inhibitors, Prophylactic mastectomy, Prophylactic oophorectomy, Fenretinide. Some of the breast cancer protective factors do not seem to be very appealing. In addition, the National Cancer Institute tells us that Abortion, Oral Contraceptives, Environment, Diet, Active and passive cigarette smoking and Statins have been proven not to be risk factors for breast cancer or their effects on breast cancer risk are not known. Any alternative views? Yes! One is clearly presented in “Breast cancer: an environmental disease“, a public interest document published in 2011 by the UK Working Group on the Primary Prevention of Breast Cancer. The report challenges a number of prevailing views and attitudes towards breast cancer and addresses the under-acknowledged and non-lifestyle factors associated with breast cancer — these are environmental factors. The report is based on 5 main propositions: breast cancer is a preventable disease cancer can be caused by exposures to numerous and varied cancer-causing and cancer-promoting environmental agents – large-scale prevention could be achieved by eliminating such exposures in the light of expanding knowledge about specific environmental factors known or suspected of implication in the incidence of breast cancer, the primary prevention of breast cancer is an attainable goal the ultimate responsibility for primary prevention lies with government equally important are the responsibilities for human and environmental health borne by science and industry on the basis of current knowledge, failure to act to prevent breast cancer is to be complicit in causing death and disease for this and future generations The report contains many quotes — one of these is from a UK patient: “The ultimate priority for (cancer) patients is for the...

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Breast Cancer: Prevention is Better than Cure
Nov04

Breast Cancer: Prevention is Better than Cure

By The Editors The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organization addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union. With the support of more than 65 member organizations, HEAL brings independent expertise and evidence from the health community to different decision-making processes. According to HEAL, “the role that environmental factors play in cancer causation, specifically carcinogenic substances and other cancer-related chemicals, is increasingly recognized. Consequently, reducing exposure to hazardous substances is gaining prominence as a key approach to cancer prevention.” On October 23, 2013, HEAL member Breast Cancer UK (BCUK) launched its Manifesto ‘Prevention is better than cure: 5 pledges for 2015 and beyond’ calling on the UK Government ’to stop breast cancer before it starts’. Breast Cancer UK’s 5 manifesto pledges are: 1. Prioritize the primary prevention of breast cancer; 2. Improve the regulation of chemicals; 3. Protect the unborn child by offering advice to pregnant and breast feeding women; 4. Ban the use of Bisphenol A in food and drinks packaging; 5. Improve labelling laws and implement the ‘right to know’ what chemicals are in products. Results from recent studies show that Bisphenol A (BPA) is a complete mammary gland carcinogen. Breast Cancer UK believes much more can be done to help prevent people from getting breast cancer in the first place – but currently the Government’s failure to address the chemical causes of the disease fundamentally weakens breast cancer prevention policy. The launch of the Manifesto is one necessary step for increasing awareness of the risk factors associated...

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Benzene, Leukemia and Lymphoma
Aug05

Benzene, Leukemia and Lymphoma

By Roberta Attanasio It’s said to have a sweet smell, or a gasoline-like odor. It’s mostly in the air, and sometime in the water and soil.  It’s found all around the world.  It’s in cigarette smoke and gasoline vapors.  It’s a known human carcinogen – a substance known to cause cancer. It’s benzene. Its target organ is the bone marrow, the soft spongy tissue that lies within the hollow interior of long bones and produces all types of blood cells. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) in the “Toxicological Profile for Benzene” states: “Everyone is exposed to a small amount of benzene every day. You are exposed to benzene in the outdoor environment, in the workplace, and in the home. Exposure of the general population to benzene mainly occurs through breathing air that contains benzene. The major sources of benzene exposure are tobacco smoke, automobile service stations, exhaust from motor vehicles, and industrial emissions. Vapors (or gases) from products that contain benzene, such as glues, paints, furniture wax, and detergents, can also be a source of exposure. Auto exhaust and industrial emissions account for about 20% of the total national exposure to benzene. About half of the exposure to benzene in the United States results from smoking tobacco or from exposure to tobacco smoke.” In addition, in the same Profile, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry tells us: “If you are exposed to benzene, many factors will determine whether you will be harmed. These factors include the dose (how much), the duration (how long), and how you come in contact with it. You must also consider any other chemicals you are exposed to and your age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle, and state of health.” For more than a century, it has been known that excessive exposure to benzene damages the bone marrow, resulting in aplastic anemia, a blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells (aplastic anemia is also called bone marrow failure).  During the last few decades, it has become clear that long-term exposure to benzene can also cause leukemias and lymphomas. Leukemias are a group of cancers of the blood-forming cells. Large numbers of abnormal blood-forming cells are produced in the bone marrow.  From there, the abnormal cells go into the bloodstream and spread to other parts of the body. Lymphomas are cancers in which lymphocytes (cells that destroy infectious microorganisms) become abnormal – similarly to leukemias, they grow and multiply uncontrollably.   There are many types of leukemias and lymphomas. You can read below what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...

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Arsenic in Rice: Links to Genetic Damage
Jul27

Arsenic in Rice: Links to Genetic Damage

By The Editors Rice is a staple food for over 3 billion people worldwide. Unfortunately, rice contaminated with arsenic can be found in several regions of our planet. Although serious concerns have been raised in the past few years over the consumption of rice tainted with high levels of arsenic, there was no direct proof of its harmful effects on human populations. Now, results from a new study indicate that staple consumption of cooked rice containing high levels of arsenic leads to genotoxic damage. Arsenic, one of the heavy metals, is a chemical element normally present in water, air and soil. It is released from volcanoes and from the erosion of mineral deposits as well as from human activities (mining, burning coal, oil, gasoline and wood). Presence of arsenic in the environment is also due to its use in compounds such as pesticides, herbicides and wood preservatives.  The arsenic content in rice varies widely depending on the rice provenience: rice grown in arsenic-contaminated soil and groundwater contains higher arsenic than average. The new study, entitled “High arsenic in rice is associated with elevated genotoxic effects in humans” and published on July 22, 2013, in the scientific journal Scientific Reports, was designed to determine whether or not cooked rice with high arsenic content is sufficient to cause genotoxic effects in humans in absence of any additional exposure. The study populations consisted of individuals living in rural West Bengal, India, eating rice as a staple. To determine arsenic toxicity and genetic damage the investigators determined the frequency of micronuclei – a tell-tale sign of chromosomal damage – in cells extracted from urine samples. Increased frequency of micronuclei is known to be linked to the development of cancers. The investigators demonstrated that people eating rice containing arsenic in amounts greater than 0.2 mg/kg had higher frequencies of micronuclei than people consuming rice containing less arsenic.  The trend of greater genetic damage with increasing arsenic in rice was observed for both men and women, for tobacco-users and non-users, and for those from three different locations within the study area. The pattern observed was broadly similar to that previously seen for people exposed to arsenic through drinking high arsenic well waters, which has caused devastating health impacts, including cancers, in many parts of the world. Rice is not the only type of food that may lead to high levels of arsenic exposure. Another example is that of cooked chicken breasts. As you may remember from one of our previous posts, “Arsenic in Chickens: Finding More of What is Already Known“, a recent study found that several samples of U.S. chicken breasts contained potentially harmful...

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A Not-So-New Role for Bisphenol A: Mammary Gland Carcinogen
Jul24

A Not-So-New Role for Bisphenol A: Mammary Gland Carcinogen

By The Editors Bisphenol A (BPA) is not just a harmful chemical found in many plastic products — it’s also a news champion, and our guess is we’ll keep hearing about it for a long time. The latest? BPA may act as a complete mammary gland carcinogen. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor (a chemical able to interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife) and a potential environmental obesogen (a chemical able to disrupt the normal development and balance of lipid metabolism, which can lead to obesity). Moreover, mounting scientific evidence strongly suggests a link between BPA and cancer. The Breast Cancer Fund website states: “With regard to mammary development and increased risk for development of breast cancer, several studies using both rat and mouse models have demonstrated that even brief exposures to environmentally relevant doses of BPA during gestation or around the time of birth lead to changes in mammary tissue structure predictive of later development of tumors. Exposure also increased sensitivity to estrogen at puberty. Early exposure to BPA led to abnormalities in mammary tissue development that were observable even during gestation and were maintained into adulthood. Prenatal exposure of rats to BPA resulted in increases in the number of pre-cancerous lesions and in situ tumors (carcinomas), as well as an increased number of mammary tumors following adulthood exposures to subthreshold doses (lower than that needed to induce tumors) of known carcinogens.” Now, a new study published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives (Perinatally Administered Bisphenol A Acts as a Mammary Gland Carcinogen in Rats, July 23, 2013) concludes that “Developmental exposure to environmentally relevant levels of BPA during gestation and lactation induces mammary gland neoplasms in the absence of any additional carcinogenic treatment. Thus, BPA may act as a complete mammary gland carcinogen”. For their study, the authors used Sprague­Dawley rats, a strain used extensively for toxicology and carcinogenesis studies by the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Pregnant rats were treated with a wide range of BPA doses for different exposure times. The mammary glands from the offspring were then examined for preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions. Unexpectedly, the investigators observed large mammary carcinomas occurring at BPA doses relevant to human exposure. Tumors were found in animals exposed to BPA across all doses and exposure times. BPA is the building block of polycarbonate plastic. It’s also used in the manufacture of epoxy resins found in many common consumer products as well as in thermal receipts and other paper products. Polycarbonate plastics have many applications including use in some food and...

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