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X-ray Technologists Were Prone to Breast Cancer

Risk of disease dropped after 1960, study says

WEDNESDAY, June 19, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Women who worked as radiation technologists before 1950 are at greater risk of dying from breast cancer than women who began doing that work after that time.

A study in today's issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute examined radiation exposure among 69,525 women certified as X-ray technologists between 1926 and 1982. They filled out questionnaires about their lifetime work histories, reproductive and family cancer histories, and other lifestyle factors that influence the risk of breast cancer.

The women were followed for an average of 12 years after they filled out the questionnaires.

The researchers found that women who started work as radiation technologists before 1940 were nearly three times more likely to die from breast cancer than those who started working in 1960 or later. Women working between 1940 and 1949 were about 2.5 times more likely to die of breast cancer than those who started working in 1960 or later.

The study also found that technologists who first performed an X-ray technique called fluoroscopy and multifilm procedures before 1950 had significantly higher risk than women doing those procedures in 1960 or later.

Reductions in recommended radiation exposure limits in later years is the likely explanation for the decline in risk, the researchers say.

More information

To learn more about breast cancer, visit the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute news release
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