Research Insight – X-Ray Radiation Boosts Breast Cancer Risk by 90%

A new study in British Medical Journal found evidence to suggest that exposure to diagnostic radiation before age 30 can drastically increase risk of breast cancer in women with BRCA1/2 mutations.

Ionizing radiation (x-ray or mammograms) used in medical diagnostics and treatment is a known carcinogen.

In women with BRCA1/2 mutations, any exposure to diagnostic radiation before age 30 was found correlated with a 90 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer. And the increase was dose-responsive, higher doses leading to a higher risk.

Exposure to x-ray based mammography before age 30 was also correlated with a 43 percent increased risk of breast cancer.

The study was based on data 1993 female carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations recruited in 2006 to 2009 for three nationwide studies, GENEPSO, EMBRACE, HEBON, in France, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

The researchers concluded “In this large European study among carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations, exposure to diagnostic radiation before age 30 was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer at dose levels considerably lower than those at which increases have been found in other cohorts exposed to radiation.”

“The results of this study support the use of non-ionizing radiation imaging techniques (such as magnetic resonance imaging) as the main tool for surveillance in young women with BRCA1/2 mutations.”


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