[MOL] Estrogen should be added to cancer causing list... [00987] Medicine On Line

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[MOL] Estrogen should be added to cancer causing list...

Estrogen Should be Added to Cancer-Causing List Along with Other Substances

Estrogen, the hormone used in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, should be listed as a known cancer-causing agent, according to the advisers to the National Toxicology Panel (NTP).

Maybe, one scientist said, this step might encourage doctors to talk with their patients about both the risks and the benefits. "Physicians never discuss any of these risks when they are prescribing hormone therapy," Michelle Medinsky, a toxicologist from Durham, N.C., told the National Toxicology Program advisory committee. "They only discuss benefits. Listing might force it on the table." Medinsky said.

"Is knowledge power or is ignorance bliss? Everyone has to make their own decision," she said.

The advisory panel acted after looking at studies showing that estrogen is associated with an increase in uterine and endometrial cancer and to a lesser extent, breast cancer.

The advisory committee advises the NTP, a branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that every two years updates the federal list of proven and suspected cancer-causing substances. The next update is scheduled early in 2002.

Wood dust has been associated with cancer of the nose and sinuses in workers in furniture factories and cabinetmaking shops.

Ultraviolet Radiation was added due to the association with certain types of skin cancer.

Substances that the committee voted to be listed as "reasonably anticipated" to be carcinogens include:

  • Nickel
  • Trichloroethylene

Methyleugenol is a compound that occurs naturally in a variety of spices and herbs, including clove oil, cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and walnuts. According to one government report "Whether you intend to or not, chances are you will consume approximately 6 micrograms of methyleugenol (ME) today." In both its natural and synthetic forms, it is an FDA-approved additive, and it is widely used as a flavoring agent in desserts, condiments, and cigarettes, as an attractant in insecticides, and as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps.

Metallic nickel is used in some industries and is also found in stainless steel products.

Trichloroethylene is a substance used to de-grease metal parts.

However, after a daylong debate, the panel refused to add talc powder to the list, saying there wasn't enough evidence linking its use in feminine hygiene products to ovarian cancer. The panel deadlocked in a 5-5 vote over whether to list a second type of talc, fibrous talc, which some studies have linked to lung cancer in talc miners.

For more information on this topic, try the following websites:

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/

National Cancer Institute:

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