WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Women and men in the U.S. military have a higher risk of breast cancer, but physicians say they don't know why, an expert says.
Dr. Richard Clapp, a cancer expert at Boston University who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said a 2009 study by Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington found breast cancer rates among military women were "significantly higher," the Army Times reported.
Clapp said U.S. military women are 20 percent to 40 percent more likely to get breast cancer than civilian women in the same age groups.
Military women are also more likely to be engaged in industrial jobs than females in the general population.
"It depends on where you've been. If you were next to burn pits in Iraq, yes, you probably should get checkups more regularly than the general population because you were probably breathing in some pretty nasty stuff," Clapp told the Army Times.
Military service involves higher risk including exposure to:
-- Electromagnetic radiation for those in jobs such as radio operators, electricians and telephone repair.
-- Volatile organic compounds such as solvents, paints and exhaust.
-- Repeated and prolonged exposure to solar radiation.
-- Superfund sites. Many are on current or former military bases such as Camp Lejeune, N.C., which has a high amount of male breast cancer cases.
-- Night-shifts. Female military workers and their families have higher breast cancer risk.