SAN DIEGO, June 13 (UPI) -- An analysis of environmental causes of breast cancer suggests women can reduce breast cancer risk by avoiding unnecessary medical imaging, researchers say.
Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman of the University of California, San Francisco, said the Institute of Medicine reviewed all the available scientific data compiled to date about potential environmental risks of breast cancer -- factors such as pesticides, beauty products, household chemicals and the plastics used to make water bottles.
The report concluded there are not enough data to confirm or rule out that exposure to most of these factors caused breast cancer but the report identified two factors that definitely increased risk: post-menopausal hormone replacement therapy and radiation exposure from medical imaging.
An article in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine said the single thing the IOM highlighted that a woman can do to lower her risk of breast cancer is to avoid unnecessary medical imaging.
Smith-Bindman said CT scans and other forms of medical imaging have revolutionized medicine and can be life-saving, but women need to engage their doctors and ask questions such as:
-- Is this scan absolutely necessary?
-- Is it necessary to do it now?
-- Are there other, alternative tests?
-- How can I be sure the test will be done in the safest way possible?
-- Will having the scan information change the management of my disease?
-- Can I wait until after seeing a specialist before getting the scan?