Radiation causes three-fourths of breast cancers — and damages your heart, too!
A top doctor estimates that about three-quarters of all breast cancer cases in the United States are induced by radiation — including medical X-rays, and including mammograms to detect breast cancer.
Dr. John W. Goffman, M.D., Ph.D. published that finding in a 1996 book called Preventing Breast-Cancer: The Story of a Major, Proven, Preventable Cause of this Disease. He was a retired Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
While the medical profession doesnít generally accept his exact figure of three-fourths, itís a medical fact that X-rays cause cancer. This is very well known and accepted. Itís not controversial. Those painless, invisible rays that doctors aim at your chest or a broken bone or an arthritic joint are extremely dangerous. The reason is that X-rays cause healthy cells to mutate, and mutated cells are a well-known cause of cancer.
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In spite of that, weíre seeing a big, bitter debate over whether women between the ages of 40 and 50 should receive an annual mammogram. In 2009, a task force at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services set off a firestorm by recommending that regular mammography screening shouldnít start until age 50. This led some people to think the government is out to kill women by denying them mammograms.
Cheer up. This is one occasion where the government got it right.
I think the test is of doubtful value for women of any age, but now even establishment medicine agrees that itís a costly, nearly useless exam for most women under 50. The reasons are complicated, but basically the test detects very few tumors and saves very few lives, and meanwhile it exposes women to massive amounts of dangerous radiation.
According to Robert Aronowitz, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, "You need to screen 1,900 women in their 40s for 10 years in order to prevent one death from breast cancer, and in the process you will have generated more than 1000 false positives and all the overtreatment they entail."
In other words, the test is incredibly inaccurate. A false positive means the test indicates you have cancer when in fact you donít. It means return visits to the doctor, additional tests, biopsies, missed time at work, and several days of terror during which you think youíve got cancer. After the age of 50 (or after menopause) the test is somewhat more useful, but nothing to brag about.
And let me underline this: women under 50 endure a thousand false positives for every life saved by a "true positive" — a mammogram test where the woman indeed has cancer and is treated successfully.
Meanwhile, 10 years of screening exposes you to about half the radiation you would have received had you been standing a mile away from the center of the atomic
bomb that destroyed the whole city of Hiroshima. In other words, youíre bombarded with one heck of a lot of deadly, cancer-causing radiation. If it werenít a medical test theyíd call it murder.
My friend Bill Henderson recommends a test you can do by mail, from your home, that he says is more accurate and useful. You can get the details in a Special Report we publish called How to Cure Almost Any Cancer at Home for $5.15 a Day. (Click on that link to learn more about the report.) The test doesnít specifically reveal which body part has cancer cells, but it lets you know youíve got cancer somewhere — and you can proceed to get rid of it with the inexpensive home treatments Bill recommends.
It really is an amazing home system for defeating cancer. Iíve known Bill for years and heís a man of high integrity. Heís not in this for the money. He wants to help people. You owe it to yourself to learn about his approach.
Even better is a breast cancer screening test called thermography, that I explain in detail in my book Breast Cancer Cover-Up. Thermography is completely safe, involves NO RADIATION, and detects breast cancer as much as ten years earlier than a mammogram! Breast Cancer Cover-Up goes over all your testing and treatment options for this dreaded type of cancer. If I do say so myself, it's a must read for every woman who has breast cancer or wants to be prepared just in case.
Meanwhile, I could go on at great length about mammograms (and I will in a future issue). But for now what I find depressing about this debate is that so many poorly informed consumers demand MORE of the very treatments that are killing them.
The problem is not just mammograms or breast cancer. ALL X-rays of any kind increase your risk of cancer no matter what part of the body is exposed. Why do you think the technician leaves the room while the picture is being taken? The procedure is deadly. And generally we Americans get X-rayed far more than necessary.
In the past couple of decades the medical and dental professions have made an effort to reduce the number of X-rays and the dose of radiation per X-ray. You should do your part by avoiding them when you can.
Most readers of this newsletter know that radiation is used not only to detect problems like tumors and fractures but also to treat cancer. High doses of radiation damage and kill existing cancer cells, but as I just said, they can also cause surrounding healthy cells to mutate. Itís very likely that radiation treatment actually increases your risk of more cancer sometime in the future — either a return of the original type of cancer or the birth of a new type you didnít have before.
The American Cancer Society — a strong supporter of conventional treatments -- provides some evidence for this on its website. The ACS explains that radiation therapy has the potential to cause DNA mutations that could lead to the development of cancer. It explains that some studies have associated radiation therapy with increased cases of thyroid cancer and early-onset breast cancer.
The ACS also notes that patients with Hodgkin disease who receive radiation therapy are at an increased risk because the treatment "often delivers lower radiation doses to many areas of the body."
In the opinion of the ACS, radiationís benefits generally outweigh the risk, but they admit additional research is needed to maximize the benefits while minimizing the risk of secondary cancers.
Radiation even damages your heart!
Besides the cancer dangers, published studies confirm a link between radiation therapy for cancer and damage to the heart. Dr. Gofman saw this years ago. He wrote, "Medical radiation, received even at very low doses, is an important cause of death from Ischemic Heart Disease; the probable mechanism is radiation-induction of mutations in the coronary arteries, resulting in dysfunctional clones (mini-tumors) of smooth muscle cells."
Dr. Gofman was speculating, but a 2007 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute suggests he was on the right track. The study found that radiation therapy poses a long-term heart disease risk for breast cancer survivors.
The researchers compared breast cancer treatment options for 4,414 ten-year survivors of breast cancer and found that 21 percent of the group had some form of cardiovascular disease, with heart failure being the most common.
In general, those patients who were treated with radiation therapy between 1970 and 1986 had about two to three times the risk of heart disease. Although doctors employ radiation more carefully now, itís a cancer treatment to avoid if you can.
Iíll give you my take on radiation, as well as most forms of chemotherapy (and keep in mind that Iím not a doctor). Cancer is a systemic disease. The whole body is sick. So merely destroying a tumor or killing cancer cells does little more than buy you time. In all too many cases, the cancer comes back.
Thatís why in this newsletter and in the reports we publish weíre always talking about sound nutrition, detoxifying the body and strengthening the immune system. In the seven years weíve been publishing cancer information, every bit of evidence weíve seen indicates this approach is at least as effective as the conventional treatments — and makes you a lot less miserable.
Remember "sick building syndrome?" Some years ago, there used to be a lot of talk about toxic materials in modern office buildings that made people sick. The talk died down, but -- guess what — the problem didnít. Sick buildings are still very much with us, and they probably contribute to cancer, along with a host of other illnesses. If you missed this article in our last issue, you can scroll down and read it now.
Is Your Office Giving You Cancer?
The typical office environment in corporate America is furnished with items made to resist wear and tear and to be more stain-proof than the textiles we use in our homes. This is all accomplished with chemicals. No, they aren't good for you. But how bad are they? Let's take a look...
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The furniture and carpets are coated with stain repellents and other synthetic materials. Except for maybe the boss's office, the furniture is made of cheap composite materials, not real wood. The walls are doused with paints that give off toxic gases — and the whole airborne nightmare is sealed in with windows that don't open and thick insulation to make the building energy-efficient.
Some call the whole thing a miracle of modern chemistry and industrial design. But the "miracle" secretes enough toxins in the form of PFCs to make you sick with a host of illnesses — cancer being one of them.
PFCs are polyfluorinated compounds. One of the scariest things about them is that they last a long time, and they accumulate in the body rather than being flushed out. They never go away.
And they're found throughout the man-made environment. Dr. Olga Naidenko, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, said it best: "This class of chemicals, they are all over the place."
We already know somewhere between 95 percent and 99 percent of people in the U.S. have traces of PFCs in their blood. I touched on this a few weeks ago in my Teflon update (Issue #211).
PFOA, the contaminant in Teflon, is only one of the many terminal breakdown compounds of household products containing PFCs. It's also just one of the 15 PFCs known to pollute human blood.
How your office links with your blood
Curiosity about this health pollutant prompted a recent study, published in Environmental Science & Technology. Lead researcher Michael McClean, associate professor of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health, along with his colleagues, looked at the prevalence of PFCs in office environments.
The team sampled 31 offices in Boston over the course of four days. The offices were located in two separate buildings — one that was fairly new, and another building that was older but had new carpeting. The researchers tested for a variety of PFCs, including fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs), sulfonamides (FOSAs), and sulfonamidoethanols (FOSEs).
Following that, they sampled the blood of each of the 31 workers from those offices, looking for any of 12 PFCs. They restricted the study to workers who had to spend at least 18 hours a week in their offices.
The results give me chills. For one, FTOHs were particularly high in air samples — and three to five times higher than those found in most homes. In the office workers' blood levels, PFOA, which is a breakdown product of FTOHs, correlated with office air levels of FTOHs.
The researchers found that the range of PFC levels varies quite a bit from one building to another. Meaning, the corresponding blood levels of PFCs depend on the building where the person works. The newer building was by far a greater source of toxins, with its new paint, furniture, and carpet.
No surprise, those who work in older buildings without the chemically-coated new furniture and carpet have the lowest levels of PFCs.
Damage from PFCs is appalling
Every month, it seems like some new illness gets linked with PFC exposure.
Some of the research points to low birth weight and high cholesterol. Other studies suggest that vaccines for kids are less effective due to PFC exposure. Animal studies show PFCs weaken the immune system. And other health effects, besides cancer, include developmental and reproductive toxicity.
According to the Environmental Working Group, "PFCs seem destined to supplant DDT, PCBs, dioxin, and other chemicals as the most notorious global chemical contaminants ever produced."
This puts you in a tough spot if you — like most of us — want to keep your job, whether it's because you love it or need it.
But there are some things you can do to lessen your exposure.
A few things you can do to stay healthy
For one thing, officials need to acknowledge that office air is a significant source of exposure for disease-creating chemicals. Indoor air is two to five times more polluted than outdoor air (in some cases, 100 times more polluted).
If you have any pull in deciding how to outfit your office, consult a resource like the GreenGuard Environmental Institute. They provide indoor air quality certification for certain products, and they're not affiliated with any of the manufacturers they certify.
Another good source is CenterPoint Energy's Indoor Air Quality quiz. Take it to find out if your facility has "sick building syndrome." And then read their tips on what to do about it.
Other tips for creating a healthy indoor space are:
- Use only non-toxic paint.
- Make sure there's adequate air ventilation to prevent mold growth and allow escape for airborne toxins. Most ventilation systems bring in very little outdoor air and simply re-circulate indoor air, which further reduces quality.
- Make windows accessible. Too many office buildings have their windows sealed shut.
- Use furnishings that are low in VOCs (VOCs are volatile organic compounds, meaning they escape into the air as gases).
- Consider eco-flooring materials, like cork. It's especially important to stay away from carpeting with stain repellents, because the PFCs that come with them stick around for a long time.
- Require cleaning crews to use non-toxic, natural cleaning supplies, like vinegar and baking soda
- Don't import, if you can help it. Otherwise you risk bringing in products with the same compounds you're trying to avoid. PFC levels in China are going up, for instance.
- Ask to telecommute from your home a few days a week Ö or all the time.
Most importantly, read up on this stuff. You can bet big-money companies like DuPont aren't going to write "Caution: May cause cancer" on their flooring labels.
In fact, in an email reply to health inquiries by WebMD, DuPont spokeswoman Janet Smith said, "The term 'PFCs' is rather a broad umbrella, grouping together chemicals that have different properties and applications, and different toxicity and environmental profiles. These chemicals should be considered individually when discussing questions about health and safety."
Funny. That's exactly what McClean did in his Boston office-space study.
Don't wait around for the government to take action
It's a sign of the times that more research these days focuses on the health hazards of chemicals. More chemicals flood our world than ever, and more people are getting sick.
Some of the PFC class of chemicals are being phased out, like those found in Scotchgard stain and water repellent. Those were forced off the market by the EPA in 2000, and PFOA is on its way out (we hope, anyway, assuming DuPont cooperates).
But the federal government has been far too slow to acknowledge the hazards of PFCs. They usually just respond with a call for more research, or for voluntary agreements with manufacturers. Given the persistence of these chemicals in our environment, our chance to reverse their impact may be slipping away — at least, if you're waiting for science to do something about it.
Don't bank on regulation any time soon. Take responsibility and do what you can to make sure your daily environment isn't slowly poisoning you.
References from 2nd article:
"Common Chemicals Could Make Kids' Vaccines Less Effective." By Jon Hamilton, NPR News Health Blog.
"Consumers instantly recognize them as household miracles of modern chemistry — Teflon, Scotchgard, Stainmaster, Gore-Tex." PFCS: Global Contaminants. Environmental Working Group.
"Credibility Gap: Toxic Chemicals in Food Packaging and DuPont's Greenwashing: New scientific research shows PFC-related health effects in people." Environmental Working Group.
"Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) and Human Health Concerns." Fact Sheet, Global Health & Safety Initiative, April 2009.
"Product Category Description: Flooring Finishes." Pharos.
"Study Finds PFCs in Office Workers' Blood; Workers in New Offices Have Even Higher Levels of the Potentially Toxic Chemical." By Kathleen Doheny, WebMD Health News. WebMD.
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