Breast Cancer and the Environment 

October 22, 1994 at Wayne State University

Keynote speaker was Dr. Devra Lee Davis. She talked about the studies being done with the environment and breast cancer. I took notes on the following:

Within ten years slightly more than 50% of women with breast cancer die of it.

Women over 65 are not getting adequate protection from their exposures. (underinsured) These women worked in the factories in WWII and then were sent home to use toxic (cleaning) chemicals at home.

Asian-Pacific women and Latina women in the U.S. have almost the same rates of contraction breast cancer.

Certain pesticides were banned beginning in the 1970's. But some very toxic chemicals are still in use. She said that lubricated condoms and spermicidal creams contain monylphenols.

Studies need to be done using the correct scientific methods: criteria for cause and effect timing of association dose/response internal consistency(do all studies show the same results) coherence mechanism

There is a urine test that can be used to check levels of estrogen and estrodial.

We know that ERT increases the risk of endometrial cancer.

Two oncogenes known to promote cancer: Jun and Fos.

30% of cases of breast cancer in women under 40 are genetically related although only .6% of all women have inherited the BRAC1 gene. This leaves 99.4% without BRAC1.

Female twin of a fraternal pair is usually at higher risk for breast cancer.

When 1000 women at age 40 are screened with mammograms, there are 700 false positives and 18 cancers.

Europe is looking at fem-retinoids (which are vitamin A derivatives) for their protective abilities.

Testimony of Dr. Samuel Epstein:

7 clinical trials confirm that there is no benefit for women under 40. In fact there is excess mortality in pre-menopausal screened women. There is a synergistic connection between radiation and estrogen. Also forceful compression during mammography has shown some evidence that capillaries are ruptured which may lead to spread of existing early cancers. NCI was warned during its original trials that pre-menopausal women might be getting too high a dosage of rads but there has been no followup with those women.

Some new detection methods are in use but not common yet: Transillumination(infra red scanning) Seriological and immunological MRI-at least as useful as mammography but expensive

Of NCI's budget $50million is spent on exposure to avoidable carcinogens.

Breast Implants: In 1960, it was known that polyurethane in a silicone envelope was carcinogenic and degraded very quickly. Japanese studies in 1969 showed that a breakdown product present in silicone was carcinogenic. This product TDA was removed from black hair dye in 1971. By the mid-1970's Dow certainly knew the product was carcinogenic. FDA had a report from some of their own people. Instead of action, the scientists were removed from the project.

A judge in Wisconsin is currently reviewing evidence on Bovine Growth Hormone and labeling as a constitutional issue.

Some evidence that people who handle chemotherapeutic agents develop higher levels of cancer than general population. Also more genetic changes.

Testimony of Dr. Ernest Sternglass, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh:

Radiation and its effects on breast and other cancers-Women who were radiated for tuberculosis in the 1930's and 40's had significantly higher rates of breast cancer. The current doses are 100-500 times less. Current mammography is 50% less radiation than in the 1950's and 60's.

Dr. Alice Stewart, Industrial Medicine at Oxford University was the first to point out that childhood leukemia and childhood cancers could be related to x-rays during pregnancy. Rates doubled if during last trimester and were 10x if during first trimester. She also found that background radiation both natural and man-made had an effect in the first trimester. In the mid-70's in Japan studies showed that cancer mortality for 5-9 year old males increased after 1950. Other peak times corresponded to above ground nuclear tests. During periods of test moratoriums, cancer rates were reduced.

It was found in 1972 that too much exposure all at once was not as bad as slow, long term exposure. The same study showed that Dimutase(an enzyme) could reduce free radicals.

Dr. Sternglass showed many slides which demonstrated a relationship between infant mortality(influenza and pneumonia) and bomb tests above ground. Encephalitis in NYC amongst infants corresponded to tests and was reduced during moratorium periods.

Fresh water fish have been shown to have 1000x the radioactive strontium 90 than salt water fish. The Congo had the highest levels of Strontium 90.

In NYC there was also a96% correlation between low birth rates and strontium 90.


Dr. Sternglass' co-author is Dr. Jay Gould who has written a book called Deadly Deceits(800 626-4848)

Mary Rose Oakar was a congresswoman from Ohio in the 1980's. She was the first person in Congress to raise the issue of women participating in clinical trials. She said 15% of research was on women and 15% of the researchers were women. She wondered why there were no women in the giant studies conducted before 1980's. Once she raised the question, things changed somewhat. Her sister died of breast cancer 14 years after diagnosis! She has become very interested in alternative medicine.

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