Cancer – Environmentally Linked?


My great nephew had a brain tumor. Now, they've found a tumor in his sister's leg behind her knee. They are having their water tested. They also live in a very old house, should they be concerned with old materials used to build their house way back then? Do you think there's a possibility that it could be environmentally related? We are in south Louisiana close to the Mississippi river and close to numerous chemical plants.

Dr. Greene's Answer

What a tough time for the family!

Most tumors in kids come from a combination of genetic susceptibility and some kind of environmental insult. Not all susceptible kids get cancer, and not all kids exposed to toxins get cancer. However those kids who have both, often do. The list of possible environmental toxins is long. The chemical plants are one possibility. If there is an environmental medicine doctor in the area, a consultation might prove a very wise idea. Most cities now have good doctors in the field. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, for example, has information on finding a doctor with experience in environmental medicine at

Last medical review on: June 20, 2008
About the Author
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

I would suggest checking for the presence of radon gas in the home. It is mildly radioactive, and could also be a trigger for someone who is susceptible. I personally would be very surprised if the chemical plants had anything to do with it, unless the groundwater by the plants has been contaminated by past dumping and their water comes from a well in a tainted aquifer. It sounds like they are pretty much doing the right things already. Blessings to you and them!