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Women veterans suffer higher rates of breast cancer

In the last decade, 874 military women were diagnosed with breast cancer, and a 2009 study found that female deployers were evacuated from combat zones because of suspected or confirmed breast cancer more “than for any other condition,” according to a recent article in Army Times.

The exact reason for the higher incidence of breast cancer among younger military women is not known, but doctors speculate that exposure to chemicals may be behind the increasing number of active service and veterans being diagnosed with breast cancer.

With studies suggesting that military women may have a 20% to 40% higher risk of developing breast cancer, Congressman Leonard Boswell (IA-3) introduced the Armed Forces Breast Cancer Research Act (H.R. 4869) this year to require further study the breast cancer incidence rate among service members and veterans.

“It is a well-documented fact that one of the highest forms of cancer among our service members and veterans is breast cancer. I am reintroducing this legislation – which previously passed the House with strong bipartisan support – to dig deeper in order to discover whether there is a service-related cause for the alarming rate of those members who are diagnosed,” Boswell said in May.

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