Uranium, the newest 'hormone' | Science News

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Uranium, the newest 'hormone'

1:47pm, November 9, 2004

From New Orleans, at the e.hormone 2004 conference

The incidence of several cancers is especially high on the Four Corners Navajo Reservation, which straddles the Arizona–New Mexico border. Because the region hosts more than 2,000 abandoned uranium mines, many of which release dust into the air and water, area researchers wondered whether mine pollution might partially explain the high rate of reproductive-organ cancers in teenage Navajo girls—a rate 17 times that of U.S. girls generally.

New animal studies led by Cheryl A. Dyer and Stefanie R. Whish of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff support that suspicion.

The researchers exposed young female mice to a soluble form of uranium similar to what enters groundwater from mines. To limit the animals' production of natural estrogens, the researchers removed the ovaries—the hormones' main source—from all the mice in the study. Estrogens are known to be a leading cause of many rep

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