Nightly News | December 07, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We're back now with news from a big meeting of breast cancer experts in San Antonio , including a new report that set out to address fears that a lot of women have that things in our environment, things people use every day could cause breast cancer . As our chief science correspondent Robert Bazell reports tonight, the conclusions won't sit well with some women who are certain there's a link.
Ms. CINDY GEOGHEGAN: I was a healthy woman.
ROBERT BAZELL reporting: Cindy Geoghegan , diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, grew up on Long Island , where there have been hard to explain clusters of breast cancer . And like many women, she thinks a lot of chemicals, from industrial pollutants to hair dye and plastic water bottles, could be a cause.
Ms. GEOGHEGAN: There are lots of things that I know I was exposed to and just from, you know, just general knowledge knowing that some of those things may cause breast cancer .
Unidentified Woman: ...reduce their risk of breast cancer .
BAZELL: But a new report from the Institute of Medicine , released at a major breast cancer conference today, concludes the science so far makes no such connection.
Dr. IRVA HERTZ-PICCIOTTO (University of California, Davis): The evidence was just not there to say, yes, this causes breast cancer in women -- in the women who are being diagnosed today.
BAZELL: The report, financed by the Susan G. Komen Foundation , calls for more research, especially concerning exposure in the womb and childhood. But it says there are things women can do today to cut their risk of breast
cancer: avoid exposure to medical radiation such as CAT scans when not necessary, don't take certain hormones, don't smoke, limit alcohol consumption, avoid weight gain, and increase exercise. Such advice hardly satisfies Cindy Geoghegan , who is now an activist with the group Y-ME ?
Ms. GEOGHEGAN: I don't know that we know anything today that we didn't know last week or 16 years ago.
BAZELL: The other big headline from this conference today, some encouraging news about new treatments for breast cancer . Rachel Midgett 's breast cancer had spread to her liver and doctors said she was out of options.
Ms. RACHEL MIDGETT: I was so young, 37 years old at the time.
BAZELL: Then her doctors at MD Anderson Cancer Center tried Afinitor , a drug already on the market to treat kidney and pancreatic cancers. Though not cancer free, her tumors shrank dramatically, as did those in many patients. Now she is running marathons and planning a future.
Ms. MIDGETT: It's amazing.
BAZELL: While everyone agrees that kind of progress is heartening, prevention remains a major goal and it is elusive.
BAZELL: Robert Bazell , NBC News, San Antonio .