Here’s some news that really shocked me. Hannah Powell-Auslam - a 10-year-old girl from California - was diagnosed with breast cancer! Even more shocking: she’s not the only one! According to CNN, a 12-year-old girl in Little Rock, Arkansas, and a 7-year-old boy in Hungary were also recently diagnosed. What’s going on here?
Experts say that only 7% of breast cancer cases occur in patients under age 40. That’s less than one in a million for a 10-year-old. However, younger and younger people are getting a disease that usually strikes women around menopause – and nobody knows why. Dr. Marisa Weiss is the founder of the website BreastCancer.org. She says the breast is the only organ that forms after you’re born, and when organs are being formed, they’re the most vulnerable to problems and environmental changes. She believes that everyday pollutants and chemicals are to blame: Like certain chemicals in plastic water bottles and resin-lined tin cans. Dr. Weiss points out that another risk factor for breast cancer is obesity. The extra fat cells increase estrogen production, which can lead to abnormal cell growth. Obese girls are also more likely to go through puberty earlier, and the longer women spend between puberty and menopause, the greater their risk for breast cancer. So, should you worry about your child? Again, the number of tweens diagnosed with breast cancer is very small, but until scientists can get to the bottom of the problem, try these tips:
- First, feed your kids more fresh produce. Avoid canned foods when possible, and get a water filter, so your kids can drink out of a glass.
- Also, make sure your children get plenty of exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and don’t eat too many snacks or fried foods.
- Make sure your kids tell you about any strange changes in their bodies. 10-year-old Hannah had an itchy spot on her chest that wouldn’t go away, but she put off telling her mother because she was embarrassed.