Childhood Brain Tumors (CBTS)
Definition: A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells (uncontrolled cell division) contained within the skull or the central spinal canal. The brain controls both memory and learning and is in charge of all of our senses which include: hearing, sight, smell, taste, touch and our emotions. Moreover, the brain also “integrates the functions of the body as a whole;” it directs what we do (walking) and what our body needs to do (breathing).
Source: Mosby’s Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary 6th Ed.
Brain tumors are either benign (without cancer cells) or malignant (with cancer cells). Likewise, brain tumors have two essential forms, namely primary and metastatic. Primary (true) brain cancer originates in the brain, whereas metastatic brain cancer starts in another place in the body and then travels to the brain (referred to as brain metastases). According to the National Cancer Institute, brain cancer can spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord, but rarely to other parts of the body.” Source: umgcc.or/brain_tumor_centa/cbsg.htm from Adult Brain Tumor Treatment PDX sheet.
Prevalence: According to the American Brain Tumor Association, “brain cancer (tumors) are not common in young people; in fact, only about 2,200 children per year in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor. However, data collected by the U.S. Survelliance, Epidemeology, and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute revealed that “the two most common childhood cancers are rising: brain/nervous system cancer increased by 32.6% between 1973 and 1990.”
Brain cancer is the leading cause of death in patients less than 35 years of age.
As of April 2010, however, “an estimated 62,000 new cases of primary brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in 2010, therefore it appears that the incidence of brain cancer is rising. It is estimated that more than 600,000 people in the United States are living with the diagnosis of a primary brain tumor.”
Source: American Brain Tumor Association “Brain Tumor Facts” sheet.
Link: http://www.abta.org/index.cfm?contentid-12 to learn more.
Causes: According to the American Brain Tumor Association, “brain tumors are caused by cells that lose two qualities,” namely (1) differentiation and (2) self-control. Differentiation means cells grow to perform specific tasks and regulate themselves, knowing when the body needs to reproduce cells and when to stop. But tumor cells cannot differentiate and they cannot self-regulate. They grow continuously and take up space that other bodily structures need.
Sign and Symptoms: According to the National Cancer Institute, many common symptoms are associated with brain tumors such as: morning headaches that disappear after vomiting; frequent nausea and vomiting; trouble with talking, hearing, and vision; issues with balance and maintaining balance; complications with thinking or the ability to concentrate; muscle jerking, twitching (seizures), convulsions; numbness and tingling in extremities; one-sided body weakness; unusual sleepiness; changes in activity level; and uncharacteristic fluctuations in mood.
Risk Factors: Exposure to vinyl chloride (a known carcinogen) and living near manufacturing plants who produce it and release vinyl chloride into the air and water. Genetic mutation and deletion of tumor suppressor genes, as well as a previous cancer provide a greater risk of developing brain cancer. Exposure to Epstein Barr virus, AIDs (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), ionizing radiation (that penetrates the skull) from high-dose x-rays, and aspartame (a popular sugar substitute). A recent organ transplant and family history (although it is rare for brain tumors to run in families) may also increase risk.
Source: National Institute of Health www.cancer.gov.
According to the National Brain Tumor Society’s The Essential Guide to Brain Tumors (2009) the “leading cause of deaths from childhood cancer are brain tumors. They are also the second leading cause of cancer death in young adults. And other than leukemia, malignant brain tumors are the type of cancer that is most common in children.”
Cited Articles: Herein, we have provided some valuable research studies that thoroughly address the link of pesticide exposure to the risk of developing childhood brain tumors (cancer). It should be noted that parental occupational exposure to pesticides prior to conception increases a child’s chances for developing brain cancer. In one research study, where mothers used pesticides indoors (i.e. flea and tick products) from the time they were pregnant, statistics indicated that a statistically significant incidence of childhood brain tumors affecting children born to these women, the diagnosis of which was confirmed before five years of age.
Source: “HOUSEHOLD PESTICIDES AND RISK OF PEDIATRIC BRAIN TUMORS” Pagoda JM et al. Environmental Health Perspectives 105: 1214-1220 (1997.) http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/1997/105-11/pogoda-full.html.
There is also evidence that children have more than twice the risk of developing neuroblastoma when pesticides are used around the home. This is very serious when, as of 2001, 60% of children who develop this brain cancer do not live for even three years after receiving conventional cancer treatment.
Source: Epidemiology: Daniels JL. Et al 12(1)20-26 January, 2001.
Link: chem-tox.com/pesticides look for Neuroblastoma Linked to Homes Treated with Pesticides.
Further research is needed to isolate pesticides that are increasingly being linked to pediatric brain cancer. From the above, it appears that the fetal brain appears to be vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides.
Epidemiology 12(1):20-27 (2001) http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=868496
This study compares cases of brain tumors in children and exposure to pesticides. The results show that residential exposure to pesticides has a mild association with neuroblastoma in children less than one year of age. The researchers also found that pesticide exposure has a higher association with neuroblastoma in older children, suggesting that pesticides could cause cancer through a mechanism available in children over 1 year in age.
A CASE-CONTROL STUDY OF CHILDHOOD BRAIN TUMORS AND FATHERS’ HOBBIES: A CHILDREN’S ONCOLOGY GROUP STUDY. Rosso, A.L., et al.
Cancer Causes Control, 19(10)1201-1207 (2008) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2688447/
This study suggests that household exposures from hobbies, particularly those involving pesticides, may increase risk of medulloblastoma (MB) and primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) in children. A total of 318 children under the age of 6 diagnosed between 1991 and 1997 were analyzed with an equal number of controls. Results found a significant association between MB and PNET childhood brain tumors and fathers’ hobbies being lawn care utilizing pesticides.
Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 24(1) (1993) http://www.springerlink.com/content/w77584x556w168k1/
Results of this case-control study find major positive correlation between childhood brain cancer and home and garden use of pesticides including insecticides and herbicides. When compared to a control group of 108 cancer patients, association was observed for pesticide bombs, termite control, pet flea collars, other insecticides, carbaryl in the garden or orchard and herbicides for weed control.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 157(11):989-997 (2003) http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/157/11/989.short
This study on examines whether there is a link between 154 children diagnosed with astrocytoma and 158 children diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET) and parental occupational exposure to pesticides. Four classes of pesticides where examined: insecticides, herbicides, agricultural and nonagricultural fungicides. Paternal exposure to all four classes of pesticides revealed an increased risk of astrocytoma, while an increased risk of PNET was observed for herbicides only. Maternal exposure for three of the four classes of pesticdes was found to be associated with astrocytoma as well.
CHILDHOOD BRAIN TUMORS, RESIDENTIAL INSECTICIDE EXPOSURE, AND PESTICIDE METABOLISM GENES. Nielsen, S.S. et al.,
Environmental Health Perspectives 118(1):144-9 (2010) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20056567
This case-control study of 201 cases and 285 controls suggests that organophosphorus and carbamate insecticides that target the nervous system in combination with a child’s reduced ability to detoxify them, may be associated with childhood brain cancers. CBT risk increased among children exposed to residential insecticides including treatment of the home, yard, garden, and pets, for nuisance pests such as ants and cockroaches and/or for lice. Whereas among children never exposed, CBT risk was not increased. This study specifically examined exposure to pesticides during pregnancy and childhood.
Authors suggest, “results are consistent with the possibility that children with a reduced ability to metabolize OP and perhaps carbamate insecticides might be at increased risk of CBT when sufficiently exposed.” At the time of this study, the insecticides, chlorpyrifos and diazinon were still unrestricted for residential use in the United States. However, children continue to be exposed to other pesticides considered AChE inhibitors, including many used on school grounds.
PON1 AS A PREDICTOR OF DIFFERENTIAL SUSCEPTIBILITY OF CHILDREN TO ORGANOPHOSPHATE PESTICIDES Eskenazi, B. et al.,
University of California - Berkeley2007 Progress Report (2008) http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/index.cfm/fuseaction/display.abstractDetail/abstract/8042/report/0
This continuing EPA grant study of over 430 children and 430 mothers examines genetic susceptibility to organophosphate (OP) pesticides among children. In this study, PON1, a protein-coding gene responsible for hydrolyzing OP pesticides and protecting against oxidative stress was found to be lower in children. Thus, at the same level of pesticide exposure, children have increased vulnerability to adverse affects of OP exposure. PON1 activity is especially low in newborns and continues to be lower than their mothers through the age of seven. Researchers of this study reveal, “PON1 activity may be a marker for the differential susceptibility of children to OP exposures and their later adverse neurodevelopment.”
Authors suggest, “Future policies addressing pesticide exposure in children should take into account that the window of vulnerability to OPs in young children may last beyond infancy.”