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Scientists worry over health ‘hazard’ of mammography

By SOLA OGUNDIPE

MEDICAL doctors and advocates for cancer cure and treatment are still puzzled over the report of a new  study warning that mammography may be dangerous to any woman who  is already at high risk of developing breast cancer.

The confusion has arisen following a publication in the British Medical Journal of the study report which alleges that     women with a gene mutation (BRCA1 or BRCA2) who undergo diagnostic radiation (such as a chest x-ray or mammogram) before she attaining the age of 30, are far more likely to develop breast cancer than those who carry the gene mutation but who have not had x-ray exposure.

Good Health Weekly gathered that mammography is a is a special type of X-ray of the breasts and it can show tumours long before they are big enough health care provider to physically detect.

Usually, a women is often encouraged to be tested to see if  she carries a mutant gene which control the suppression of breast and ovarian cancer. If  she does carry the mutated gene, she is often encouraged to have mammograms at far younger-than-normal ages to catch any malignancy early.

When scientists at the Netherlands Cancer Institute delved into effects of mammograms or x-rays  women received before age 20, at ages 20-29, 30-39 and at their age when last exposed to these tests, they found that  43 percent of women in the study were eventually diagnosed with breast cancer and about half of them had reported having an x-ray; approximately 33 percent had received mammograms.

A  history of any exposure to diagnostic or screening radiation to the chest between the ages of 20 and 29 appeared to be especially dangerous — it increased breast cancer risk by an alarming 43 percent. Women who had been exposed to tests involving radiation before the age of 20 had an increased risk of breast cancer of 62 percent. Older women didn’t seem to have this increased risk, the study noted.


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