Chest X-rays of women with high-risk genes could increase their chances of breast cancer, a study says.
Researchers led by David Goldgar at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France analyzed 1,600 women. He found that women with BRCA1 and 2 (breast cancer susceptibility genes) mutations who had undergone a chest X-ray were 54 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than women who had never undergone the procedure.
Women who were exposed to X-rays before age 20 had a 2.5-fold increased risk of developing the disease before age 40, compared with women who had never been exposed, reported the online edition of BBC News.
Goldgar said BRCA proteins played a key role in repairing damage in breast cells.
X-rays emit ionizing radiation. Excessive radiation exposure was an established risk factor for breast cancer but there was little research into the effects of lower doses, he said.
It is one of the first studies to demonstrate that women genetically predisposed to breast cancer may be more susceptible to low-dose ionizing radiation than other women, Goldgar said.
“If confirmed in prospective studies, young women who are members of families known to have BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may wish to consider alternatives to X-ray, such as MRI,” he said.