My recent blog, "New Study Provides Clues to What Causes Myeloma," clearly struck a chord with many myeloma patients. The heartfelt comments and questions are noted and really appreciated. A first point is that New York residents or people working in New York who believe they were exposed to toxins by the 9/11 event ARE indeed eligible for screening and treatment under the Zadroga Act and World Trade Center Health Program. But the powerful vision of toxic exposures in New York reminded many of you of possible or probable toxic exposures in your own cases. From 1-3 butadiene exposure at Rexam Graphics to pesticide exposures, tours of duty in Vietnam (and/or neighboring countries) with Agent Orange and dioxin exposures, fumes from asphalt and/or construction sites, or general industrial pollution, very valid correlations and concerns are raised.

For New Yorkers, it is very important to seek screening and follow-up or treatment. The designated centers of excellence are noted in the link above. Early assessment, diagnosis, and treatment are the keys to achieve the best outcomes.

For others with broader concerns and questions about toxic exposures, much more needs to be done. In a new editorial in the New York Times (Sunday, January 20, 2013), Nicholas D. Kristof discusses what he calls "warnings from a flabby mouse." You may be aware that obesity has been linked to an increased likelihood of myeloma. The key question has been: "Does obesity in some way trigger myeloma or does some chemical or toxic exposure trigger obesity, diabetes, myeloma, and possibly other cancers?" Nicholas highlights the work of renowned researcher, Bruce Blumberg, at the University of California, who coined the term, "obesogen," for chemicals that cause increased fat storage. These obesogens are the exact same types of chemicals that can cause myeloma: endocrine disrupter chemicals including dioxins, chemicals from plastics and rubber, agricultural chemicals, as well as chemicals in foam cushions and jet fuel (http://endo.endojournals.org/content/147/6/s50.full.pdf+html).

So it seems that the epidemic of obesity and diabetes may be linked to increases in the incidence of myeloma in recent years. Thus, as they say, "the plot thickens." The scenario of widespread environmental chemical pollution, how to assess it, and what to do about it is such a large and important topic that I will return to it in future blogs.

For now, be aware and seek advice as needed. The overriding motto of the IMF is "knowledge is power."

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