Brain Tumor Causes and Risk Factors Elude Scientists

Experts at the American Brain Tumor Association’s annual conference report findings and dispel myths

Released: 22-Jul-2014 1:00 PM EDT
Embargo expired: 25-Jul-2014 6:30 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Case Western Reserve University
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Newswise — Today, nearly 700,000 people in the U.S. are living with a brain tumor, and yet, when it comes to pinpointing causes or risk factors, scientists are still searching for answers.

“Right now, we don’t know who, we don’t know when, and we don’t know why people develop brain tumors,” said Elizabeth M. Wilson, MNA, President and CEO, American Brain Tumor Association. “It’s frustrating for the brain tumor community, and it’s why the American Brain Tumor Association funds research to pursue answers to these questions, and it’s why we host this national conference to provide answers families desperately seek.”

At the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA) annual Patient and Family Conference in Chicago, July 25-26, Jill Barnholtz-Sloan, PhD, Associate Professor, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, will be the keynote speaker and provide an update on possible causes and risk factors for brain tumors.

As Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan explains, many environmental and genetic risk factors have been studied, but researchers have not uncovered a risk factor that accounts for a large number of brain tumors.

“Unlike the strong correlation between smoking and lung cancer, we just haven’t found a specific risk factor like that for brain tumors,” said Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan. “We have determined that ionizing radiation to the head is a risk factor when received in therapeutic doses, but even in those cases, the risk of developing a brain tumor is low.”

While this is the only known risk factor, Dr. Barnholtz-Sloan says, “I want to reassure people that their brain tumor or their child’s tumor is not the result of anything we currently know about that they have been exposed to or done, including using cell phones.”

Recent studies do not show proof there of an association between brain tumors and cell phone use among adults. With worldwide cellphone use increasing, researchers would expect a clear increase in brain tumor incidence over time, and studies show there is none.

Other unproven causes of brain tumors include: power lines, cigarette smoking, most forms of diagnostic ionizing radiation, head trauma, exposure to air pollutants, and alcohol consumption. Despite ruling out these and other environmental and genetic risk factors, researchers still don’t know what factors may cause brain tumors.

ABOUT THE ABTA PATIENT AND FAMILY CONFERENCE
The American Brain Tumor Association’s conference annually brings together brain tumor experts, researchers, patients, families and caregivers with the goal of improving the lives of people living with a brain tumor. This year’s theme, “Providing and Pursuing Answers: Advances in Research, Treatment and Care” describes the ABTA’s mission to be a leader in providing and pursuing the answers that brain tumor patients and their families seek. Throughout the conference, renowned brain tumor experts will cover a wide variety of topics covering new research and treatment options and important quality of life issues.

The ABTA’s 2014 patient and family conference will take place July 25-26 at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel, just minutes away from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. To learn more or register, visit www.braintumorconference.org.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN BRAIN TUMOR ASSOCIATION
Founded in 1973, the American Brain Tumor Association was first and is now the only national organization committed to funding brain tumor research and providing support and education programs for all tumor types and all age groups. For more information, visit www.abta.org or call 800-886-ABTA (2282).

About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation’s top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School’s innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.
Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report’s “Guide to Graduate Education.”

The School of Medicine’s primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002. http://casemed.case.edu.

About Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

Case Comprehensive Cancer Center is an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center located at Case Western Reserve University. The center, which has been continuously funded since 1987, integrates the cancer research activities of the largest biomedical research and health care institutions in Ohio – Case Western Reserve, University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic. NCI-designated cancer centers are characterized by scientific excellence and the capability to integrate a diversity of research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer. It is led by Stanton Gerson, MD, Asa and Patricia Shiverick- Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology, director of the National Center for Regenerative Medicine, Case Western Reserve, and director of the Seidman Cancer Center at UH Case Medical Center.


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