Environment

Congressional Childhood Cancer Caucus: “Environmental causes of childhood cancer have long been suspected by many scientists.  A number of studies are examining suspected or possible risk factors for childhood cancers, including early-life exposures to infectious agents; parental, fetal, or childhood exposures to environmental toxins such as pesticides, solvents, or other household chemicals; parental occupational exposures to radiation or chemicals; parental medical conditions during pregnancy or before conception; maternal diet during pregnancy; early postnatal feeding patterns and diet; and maternal reproductive history. Researchers are also studying the risks associated with maternal exposures to oral contraceptives, fertility drugs, and other medications; familial and genetic susceptibility; and risk associated with exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).”

 

PREP4Gold seeks to reverse the continual increase of childhood cancer occurrences and impact on long term side effects by reducing prenatal, parental, infant, and childhood exposures to hazardous environmental chemicals where children live, learn and play.  

"Most cancers in children, like those in adults, are thought to develop as a result of mutations in genes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth and eventually cancer. In adults, these gene mutations are often the result of exposure to cancer-causing environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke, asbestos, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. One study found that melanoma in children and adolescents (ages 11–20 years) has many genomic similarities to melanoma that occurs in adults, including an enrichment of UV-induced mutations.

However, environmental causes of childhood cancer have been difficult to identify, partly because cancer in children is rare, and partly because it is difficult to determine what children might have been exposed to early in their development. In fact, most childhood cancers are not thought of as being caused by environmental exposures.

Nevertheless, several environmental exposures have been linked to childhood cancer. One is ionizing radiation, which can lead to the development of leukemia and other cancers in children and adolescents. For example, children and adolescents who were exposed to radiation from the atomic bombs dropped in Japan during the Second World War had an elevated risk of leukemia, and children who were exposed to radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident had an elevated risk for thyroid cancer. Children whose mothers had x-rays during pregnancy (that is, children who were exposed before birth) and children who were exposed after birth to diagnostic medical radiation from computed tomography scans have also been found to have an increased risk of leukemia and brain tumors, and possibly other cancers.

A number of other environmental exposures have also been reported to have possible associations with childhood cancer. However, because of challenges in studying these associations, such as recall bias and the difficulty of determining exposure at the relevant time period in a child’s development, it is difficult to draw firm conclusions. Some types of childhood leukemia have been associated with father’s tobacco smoking; with exposure to certain pesticides used in and around the home or by parents at their workplace; with solvents, which are organic chemicals that are found in some household products; and with outdoor air pollution. Studies of childhood brain tumors have suggested possible associations with exposures to pesticides in and around the home and maternal consumption of cured meats. Researchers have also identified factors that may be associated with reduced risk of childhood cancer. For example, maternal consumption of folate has been associated with reduced risks of both leukemia and brain tumors in children. And being breastfed and having been exposed to routine childhood infections are both associated with a lowered risk of developing childhood leukemia.”