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August 23, 1995

Preventing Breast Cancer: The Story of a Major Proven, Preventable Cause of This Disease

Author Affiliations

American Cancer Society Atlanta, Ga

JAMA. 1995;274(8):657. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530080073046

Although breast tissue is particularly sensitive to the carcinogenic effects of ionizing radiation, especially at young ages, it is likely that less than 5% of all breast cancer in the United States can be attributed to radiation and less than 1% to medical uses of radiation.1 These levels of attributable risk are based on average levels of population exposures and on widely accepted estimates of breast carcinogenicity per unit dose.2

This book disputes these facts and proposes instead that "about three-quarters of the current annual incidence of breast cancer in the United States is being caused by earlier ionizing radiation, primarily from medical sources." To reach this conclusion, the author assembles data from more than 20 different settings, past and present, in which female breast tissue has been exposed to medical radiation, most involving diagnostic procedures. He calculates the collective radiation dose for each setting and then translates

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