Scientists No Closer to Defining What Causes Brain Tumors

Scientists No Closer to Defining What Causes Brain Tumors

Even though scientists have spent years on research, they are no closer to defining what the cause factors are for tumors of the brain. At the American Brain Tumor Association’s yearly conference, which was held in this year in the city of Chicago, experts discussed the rising use of cell phones, advancing age, genetics and smoking. These are thought to be possible causes linked to the development of brain tumors, but researchers are still far-off from having any precise knowledge of exact risk factors.

Elizabeth M. Wilson, who is the President and CEO of the ABTA, explained that scientists do not know when or why it is certain individuals who develop brain tumors. It is extremely frustrating for the brain tumor community and that is why the American Brain Tumor Association provides funds for research to try and find answers to such questions. She added that the questions were also why the ABTA was hosted annually, in order to try and help provide answers that families desperately are looking for.

The yearly meeting of the ABTA Patient and Family Conference tries to give the most up-to-date information and progressions in regards to brain tumors to the front. Dr. Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, who is an Associate Professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, was one of the main speakers at the conference this year. In her speech she talked about the possible risk factors and causes for brain tumors.

Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan explained that numerous environmental and also genetic risk factors have been considered but scientists have not found dynamics which account for a huge number of brain tumors. She stated that unlike the strong association between smoking and lung cancer, there has never actually been a certain link factor discovered for brain tumors. It has been found that ionizing radiation to the head can be considered a risk factor when given in healing doses, but even in those instances, the risk of coming down with a brain tumor is low.

The doctor also stated that she wanted to let individuals be reassured that their brain tumor or their child’s tumor was not because of something they did or the cause of anything currently known about that they might have done or exposed themselves to, such as cell phones.

It has been speculated that cell phone use might have caused brain tumors at one time; more recent studies have not shown any strong link between the two.  While earlier assumptions had also forecast a rise in the number of brain tumors worldwide when cell phones became such an essential part of life the whole globe over, studies shown there was no risk.

There have been other causes besides cell phone that are also unproven as well such as smoking, drugs, power lines, diagnostic ionizing radiation, air pollutants, head trauma and alcohol consumption. All of these along with genetic and environmental factors have been ruled out, but researchers still are far away from figuring out what is behind the cause of the condition that has affected almost 700,000 people in the United States.

Brain tumors are the second leading cause of cancer deaths amid children who are under age of 20 and for men between the ages of 20 and 39. Key brain tumors that remain contained in the brain and do not move to other body parts occur more often in younger people and older adults. Cancerous brain tumors usually start in other areas of the body and then move to the brain. These happen more often in adults than in kids. Surgery is usually the first option to treat brain tumors but in specific cases they exist in areas where operations cannot be performed. In these cases radiation or chemotherapy is then the best option.

Treatment outcomes depend upon on factors such as tumor type, grade of tumor cells, tumor position in brain, shape and size of tumor and age of the patient. When a person is diagnosed with a brain tumor, it is a traumatic event for both the patient and his or her family. While the patient has to fight at a personal level, places such as the American Cancer Society battle to destroy the disease as a worldwide health problem by financing medical research in order to determine various causes and try to find prevention policies.

Even though scientists have spent years on research, they are no closer to defining what the possible cause factors are for brain tumors. At the American Brain Tumor Association’s yearly conference, which was held this year in the city of Chicago, experts discussed the rising use of cell phones, advancing age, genetics and smoking.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

News America

Medical Daily

Eureka Alert

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