The Biggest Breast Cancer Risk Factor That No One Is Talking About
During October, women are bombarded with media telling us what we can do to stop breast cancer. Article after article after television human interest segment informs us about personal risk factors such as smoking and being overweight (although 70 percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have none of these factors) and about genetic risks (which only account for 10 percent of breast cancers.) We are bombarded with stories about the importance of getting mammograms and other tests. Then there are the survivor stories (usually about women much younger, whiter and cover-girl prettier than the average breast cancer survivor) that pull at our heartstrings. But there is very little mention of environmental factors such as auto exhaust, and chemicals like parabens and phthalates that we are exposed to every day.
The most deafening silence, however, is about radiation, which is a 100 percent known cause of cancer. We are exposed to radiation in a variety of ways, through X-rays, CT scans and mammograms, but also by living near a nuclear power plant or having been exposed to weaponry that uses depleted uranium.
Leuren Moret is geoscientist who has been working for a number of years to raise awareness about the dangers of radiation, an issue she became concerned about after hearing Native American women who live near areas where nuclear weapons have been tested talk about cancer and other health problems they are experiencing and by a visit to Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan. In this interview, she talks about what we know about the relationship between radiation and breast cancer.
Lucinda Marshall: In your recent article published in Namaste magazine, "Populations Exposed to Environmental Uranium: Increased Risk of Infertility and Reproductive Cancers," you wrote about a scientific study that found that "radiation is the only known cause of breast cancer in mice" and about findings that show that Navajo women who live near uranium mining operations have very high rates of breast cancer. What does that tell us about the connection between uranium and radiation and cancer?
Leuren Moret: The scientific study that found "radiation is the only known cause of breast cancer in mice" was conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, home of the Manhattan Project -- the World War II atomic bomb development project which produced the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs -- and where they have been studying the biological/environmental effects of radiation for 68 years. After billions of dollars in research funds, however, they could never identify the cause of breast cancer in women.
The newest published peer-reviewed study, by a Navajo researcher, provides the scientific evidence published by U.S. government sources that low levels of uranium in drinking water, below EPA drinking water standards, is an estrogen and hormone disruptor. The animal studies are important because we have the same hormones and similar estrogen responses as animals.
Before 1945, cancer mortality was very rare. Large increases in cancer mortality in the past 100 years begin with the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. A Japanese government map of the major causes of death in Japan from 1899 to 2004 shows that cancer mortality increased rapidly after 1945. With the introduction of each new nuclear technology since 1945 -- atmospheric testing, nuclear power plants, depleted uranium -- it is obvious that ionizing radiation is a major cause of cancer globally, and uranium is a major radioactive component of nuclear weapons, including depleted uranium weapons systems introduced to the battlefield in 1991 in Gulf War I.
This breast cancer map from Centers for Disease Control data (see below illustration) identifies that within a 100-mile radius of nuclear reactors is where two-thirds of all U.S. breast cancer deaths occurred between 1985 and 1989. The map (see below illustration) of nuclear power plants in the U.S. identifies them as the major cause of breast cancer in the U.S., as well as nuclear weapons labs in New Mexico, Idaho, Washington and California. This is further confirmed by the breast cancer clusters identified in Japan and California, which occurred where it rained the day the Chernobyl radiation cloud passed over and the rain deposited the fission products in the environment.
Breast Cancer Deaths (1985-89) and Nuclear Power Plants
Marshall: Given that radiation is a known cause of cancer, it is really frustrating to me that it gets so little attention in the popular media's discussion of breast cancer. In fact, most of what we read and hear is focused on finding "the cure" rather than the cause. Why do you think that is?
Moret: Western science was set up and established in London beginning in the 1600s by the Royal Society, to serve the needs of the international bankers and the industrialists. For that reason, much of Western science is actually "politicized science." In the past century, the financier elite were heavily involved in getting rich from world wars and the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that Western science has developed. The health effects of those WMDs must be hidden from the public or they would catch on to WMDs as the cause of huge increases in chronic illnesses and refuse to pay the taxes that secretly support development of WMDs. The Atomic Energy Commission and the military set up the EPA, NIH, NCI and CDC to hide the health and environmental effects of nuclear technologies from the public. It took me eight years doing research 18 hours a day to discover this truth. The University of California is the main WMD contractor for the international financial elite, and for that reason it will forever be known as "the university that poisoned the world."
The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture breast cancer drugs fund the breast cancer NGOs, so they control the focus in the popular media on finding "the cure." They would be acting against their own best interests if they identified the cause.
We had a monumental battle in the City of Berkeley with a resolution we passed Oct. 10, 2000, naming October as "Stop Cancer Where it Starts Month," which focused on the cause and prevention of cancer, even naming ionizing radiation as a cause. But we did it!
Marshall: It strikes me as quite peculiar that since genetic damage caused by radiation is cumulative over a lifetime that the medical community advocates that women, particularly those with no risk factors, get routine yearly mammograms. I'm also wondering about the use of radiation as a treatment for breast cancer. According to Breast Cancer Fund's "State of the Evidence 2008, "Women older than age 55 derive less benefit from radiation therapy in terms of reduced rate of local recurrence and may face increased risks of radiation-induced cardiovascular complications, as well as secondary cancers such as leukemias and cancers of the lung, esophagus, stomach and breast. Using SEER data from the National Cancer Institute, researchers showed a 16-fold increased relative risk of angiosarcoma of the breast and chest wall following irradiation to a primary breast cancer. That seems like an awfully dangerous "cure" to me.
Moret: Dr. John W. Gofman was a very rare radiation researcher, citizen scientist, and a gift to humanity. He was a physicist and an M.D., and worked on the biological effects of radiation at the Lawrence Livermore Lab until they cut off his research funds and he returned to the UC Berkeley faculty. His books, Preventing Breast Cancer (1996) and Radiation From Medical Procedures in the Pathogenesis of Cancer and Ischemic Heart Disease (1999), are extremely important research works which identify the dangers of ionizing radiation in medical procedures. His work was acknowledged in the recent BEIR VII report by the National Academy of Sciences. His was a rare voice of sanity warning us about the extreme dangers of mammograms. He told me that for every case of breast cancer identified through mammograms, five new cases of breast cancer are caused by the diagnostic use of radiation in mammograms. It sounds like a good way, for the medical industry, to generate repeat business and large profits.
Marshall: I also want to ask you what your thoughts are on the new molecular breast imaging (MBI) test, which is reportedly more effective than mammograms at finding breast cancers in dense breast tissue, but exposes women to 8 to 10 times more radiation than they receive with mammograms.
Moret: If the molecular breast imaging test exposes a woman to 8 to 10 times more radiation than mammograms, and mammograms are known to create five new cases of breast cancer for every case they identify, then it is not an option. I think the best option for women is to regularly practice breast self-exams.
Marshall: It seems to me that if we really want to "cure" breast cancer, we need to work toward preventing it by limiting our exposure to known carcinogens, especially radiation. Can you elaborate on what kind of research needs to be funded and what kinds of policy changes are needed, and steps that we as individuals can take to ensure that we refocus our efforts to end breast cancer?
Moret: I think it is very clear from the data I have gathered from governments around the world, including U.S. government data, that ionizing radiation is the main cause of breast cancer ... and other cancers. The focus now should be on educating the public about how to minimize exposure risk to ionizing radiation. Drinking water and dairy products are the two main pathways of exposure to ionizing radiation. If you Google Video my name, Leuren Moret, there are many interviews and presentations of mine on the Internet providing the information people need to understand more about this issue.
Reverse osmosis filters should be in every home to purify the drinking water and remove radioactive isotopes from the water. The filter systems are about $500, which is very cheap compared to the cost of radiation-caused illnesses. The global atmospheric pollution of Planet Earth with depleted uranium from our radioactive battlefields in Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan is contaminating drinking water globally. Each day as the depleted uranium bombing continues in faraway countries, the need for an effective water filter system is more important because the uranium is here in two weeks. Uranium levels in Los Angeles drinking water doubled in 2007 alone -- in just one year.
Being aware of which dairies are located downwind from nuclear power plants is critical in purchasing dairy products. For example, in California, two main dairy regions are located in the Fresno area, which is directly downwind from Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, and the Imperial Valley area, which is downwind from San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The most shocking discovery I made is a dairy industry report on widespread use of imported contaminated milk protein powder in junk food. Although contaminated with radioactivity, foot and mouth disease, mad cow disease, bubonic plague and drugs, it is imported and used by U.S. food manufacturers. They use it because it increases profits.
Most aspects of breast cancer can be linked to profits, unfortunately, rather than a woman's right to have a healthy body. We need to take the profit out of breast cancer.