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Re: No link between breast cancer, pesticide

  I'm disturbed by the headlines and emphasis of 
  this news release.    They are discounting the 
  importance of breast cancer for thousands of 
  women who have never breastfed babies.
  As a childless woman, I find this offensive. 
  The headline should read that a link between 
  toxic exposures and breast cancer has been 
  CONFIRMED for some women.
  >>972330207   THU   AUG.21,1997
  >>PAGE:  A12
  >>CLASS: News
  >>WORDS: 652
  >>          No link between cancer, pesticide
  >>          Breast cancer target of study
  >>Medical Reporter A new study concludes that there is no direct link between
  >>high levels of pesticides or PCBs in the body and breast cancer, but that
  >>breast feeding might decrease cancer risk. In general, women with breast
  >>cancer were found to have no higher  levels of pesticide compounds or PCBs
  >>(polychlorinated biphenyls) than  women who do not, Kirsten Moysich of the
  >>State University of New York  at Buffalo reported yesterday at an
  >>environmental meeting in Taiwan.
  >>The study involved women from two counties in western New York who  lived
  >>near a number of chemical factories as well as several toxic  waste dumps,
  >>including the infamous Love Canal.
  >>"These results suggest that higher blood levels of organochlorides  (such
  >>as DDT, Mirex and PCBs) were a risk factor for breast cancer  only for
  >>women with no history of breast feeding," said Dr. Moysich, a  specialist
  >>in preventive medicine who was chief of the study team.
  >>Women who had not breast fed had significantly higher levels of DDE, a
  >>residue from DDT, in their blood and twice the rate of breast cancers  as
  >>women of similar age and habits who breast fed.
  >>The study included 154 women with breast cancer and 192 healthy women  of
  >>similar age and background.
  >>The link between cancer and pesticides was a major issue at last  month's
  >>World Conference on Breast Cancer held in Kingston, Ont.  Speakers at the
  >>meeting urged that more research be done, and the  findings reported
  >>yesterday suggest that it will not be easy getting  the answers.
  >>"We're learning it's not how much you're exposed to but how your body
  >>responds to it. It appears there is a complex chain of events in how  it
  >>might affect breast-cancer risk," said John Vena, a specialist at  the
  >>Buffalo university's environmental-health program who was  co-investigator
  >>in the study.
  >>Studies on animals have shown that organochlorides can have effects
  >>similar to estrogen, the female hormone. Even though they were banned  in
  >>the 1970s, the substances persist in soil and water for years and  get into
  >>the body through vegetables, meats or fish that absorb them.
  >>"They are fat-loving substances and they collect in the fatter parts  of
  >>the body, including breasts," Dr. Vena said.
  >>While the body has processes that break down the substances over a  period
  >>of weeks or months, some of them remain stored long term in  fat. Cancer
  >>risk appears to rise only if the body is not efficient at  eliminating them.
  >>"The chief mechanism for eliminating them from breast tissue is  lactation,
  >>which flushes them from the system," Dr. Moysich concluded.
  >>She noted that while the baby is exposed to the substances, the  benefits
  >>of breast feeding appear to outweigh any potential risks  associated with
  >>"But our study, and others, don't show an adverse effect for the  general
  >>population," Dr. Moysich added in an interview. "It is  tempting to blame
  >>environmental exposure to potential carcinogens for  causing breast cancer.
  >>Because there is little to be done about it, it  eliminates the
  >>responsibility for changing one's lifestyle or habits."
  >>How much effect toxic substances that remain stored in fat have on  cancer
  >>formation is still a question. A recent study by the U.S.  National Cancer
  >>Institute indicated that pesticides stored in fat may  pose a cancer risk
  >>only if they are released from fat during dieting.
  >>Dr. Vena noted that this first part of the Buffalo study found that
  >>postmenopausal women who are obese tended to have higher levels of
  >>pesticide residues in their blood, and a higher cancer risk.
  >>However, a second part of the study that examined premenopausal women  is
  >>finding a higher risk of cancer among the thinnest women. That  study will
  >>not be complete until next year, Dr. Vena said.
  >>The research is being conducted by staff of the Buffalo Department of
  >>Social and Preventive Medicine, the Toxicology Research Center and the
  >>National Cancer Institute.
  Rebecca Leighton Katers
  Clean Water Action Council of N.E. Wisconsin
  2220 Deckner Avenue
  Green Bay, WI 54302
  Phone:  414-468-4243
  Fax:  414-468-1234
  E-mail:  cwac@execpc.com