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X-Rays May Up Breast Cancer Risk for Women With Certain Genes: Study
Date:9/7/2012

FRIDAY, Sept. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Women with certain gene mutations are more likely to develop breast cancer if they were exposed to radiation from chest X-rays or mammograms before age 30, compared with those who have the gene mutations and weren't exposed to radiation, new research suggests.

The study included nearly 2,000 women, 18 and older, in the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom. All of the women had a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which have long been linked to raised risks for breast and ovarian cancer.

Forty-eight percent of the women reported ever having an X-ray and 33 percent had undergone a mammogram, according to the report published online Sept. 7 in the BMJ. The average age at first mammogram was 29.

Between 2006 and 2009, 43 percent of the women were diagnosed with breast cancer. A history of any exposure to radiation from chest X-rays or mammograms between age 20 and 29 increased the risk of breast cancer by 43 percent, and any exposure before the age of 20 increased the risk by 62 percent, the researchers found. Exposure between ages 30 and 39 did not increase the risk of breast cancer, they noted.

For every 100 women, age 30, with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations, nine will have developed breast cancer by the age of 40, and the number of cases of breast cancer in these women would have increased by five if all of them had had one mammogram before age 30, according to calculations by Anouk Pijpe of the Netherlands Cancer Institute and colleagues.

However, this estimate "should be interpreted with caution because there were few women with breast cancer who had had a mammogram before age 30 in the study," the researchers explained in a journal news release.

Pijpe and colleagues recommended that non-ionizing radiation imaging techniques, such as MRI, be used for women who carry these BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations.

Exposure to radiation is an established risk factor for br
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