One group of researchers at the Institute for Comparative Cancer Research has used geographic information system (GIS) software to obtain facts related to the prevention of breast cancer. That research group wanted to determine the historical exposure to pesticides for 105 women living on Long Island. Each woman who was a subject in the study had lived on Long Island for at least 18 years.
The group of researchers used the GIS software to calculate the exact distance of each woman's residence from one of the known hazardous waste sites. Since those sites contained pesticides, the calculations held the potential for disclosing to what degree the avoidance of pesticides could play a role in the prevention of breast cancer.
The researchers combined the GIS information with collected data on pesticides found in wells between 1972 and 1992. They also used aerial photographs that had been taken fifty years earlier. Those photographs showed where the women had lived in relation to the area's former farm land, land where pesticides might have been used.
All of the statistics gathered by the researchers helped to provide more information about the prevention of breast cancer. For example, the researchers found a link between pesticides with organochlorine and breast cancer. Women who had lived within one mile of a hazardous waste site containing such pesticides had a three-fold higher risk of breast cancer.
Some of the data needs further study before the researchers can draw any hard and fast conclusions. For example, the statistics showed that women who had had children at a late age, or who had never had children, had a higher risk of breast cancer, if they had lived on former farm land. Researchers are seeking to explain the reason for that finding.
The obvious need for more studies underlines the value of a breast cancer prevention fund. The Cornell University Program, the publishers of The Ribbon, might serve as a resource for such a breast cancer prevention fund. The Cornell University Program has demonstrated great interest in the prevention of breast cancer.
The Cornell University Program applauds the use of GIS software, as demonstrated by the recent efforts to aid the prevention of breast cancer. Researchers at Cornell realize that the existing GIS software is certain to undergo marked and rapid improvements. The men and women in the Cornell University Program hope that the improved GIS software will have a permanent place in epidemiological studies that relate to the prevention of breast cancer.