Too few minorities could hurt science. Women, African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields and that the result could hurt the nation as a whole, a Fortune 1000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) survey found. The findings of the study should alarm the next president of the United States, researchers said. Minorities could be the saving grace of America if this country is going to keep its place as the leader in the science and technology industry, the report noted. “What is most dramatic about this survey is the extent to which the Fortune executives speak with one unequivocal voice on these issues,” said Dr. Attila Molnar, president and CEO of Bayer Corporation. “Almost without exception, they overwhelmingly recognize this country’s great need to tap the potential of the entire [science and technology] talent pool, and the importance of doing so at every point on the development continuum beginning in elementary school with high-quality, hands-on, inquiry-based science education, on through college where … talent is refined and recruited, and then into the workplace where it must be further nurtured and encouraged.” Molnar and other executives believe that African Americans are being exposed to science at an early enough age to pique student’s interests. Chicago native Dr. Mae Jemison, who was also the first African-American woman to travel into outer space, agrees and said more has to be done to find talent in the Black community. The report further stated that diversifying the STEM talent pool is one solution to the problem of understaffing. Nearly 55 percent of the Fortune executives say their companies are experiencing a shortage of science and technology talent. Almost nine in 10, 89 percent, agree that bringing more women and minorities into science fields will help solve this issue. Moreover, diversity has other benefits for science and tech companies, according to the executives, including increasing innovation and the ability to be more competitive in the global marketplace.Women’s birth size could be tied to cancer risk. Women who are heavier and longer at birth are at increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life, British researchers report. In fact, as birth weight and length increases, so does the risk for breast cancer, according to the results of a study published in the Sept. 30 online edition of PLoS Medicine. “These researchers have documented in unequivocal terms that larger birth size is associated with increased breast cancer risk several decades later,” said Dr. Dimitrios Trichopoulos, the Vincent L. Gregory Professor of Cancer Prevention at Harvard University School of Public Health Department of Epidemiology and author of an accompanying journal editorial. Birth size reflects, to a considerable extent, the effects of the environment within the womb on the fetus, Trichopoulos said. “To this day, they had not been sufficiently appreciated by the scientific community, because each individual study could not provide conclusive evidence. We are facing now a new reality: that breast cancer has its origins several decades before its clinical appearance,” he said. After gathering data from 32 studies on more than 600,000 women, 22,058 of whom had breast cancer, the researchers found that women who were heavier and longer at birth had increased risk for breast cancer as adults, HealthDay reported. An analysis of birth records, among these women, found that for every 17.6 ounces of birth weight, the risk for breast cancer increased 7 percent. After gathering data from 32 studies on more than 600,000 women, 22,058 of whom had breast cancer, the researchers found that women who were heavier and longer at birth had increased risk for breast cancer as adults, HealthDay reported. An analysis of birth records, among these women, found that for every 17.6 ounces of birth weight, the risk for breast cancer increased 7 percent. In addition, birth length and head circumference were also associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The strongest association between size at birth and an increased risk for breast cancer was seen for birth length, the researchers reported. “Recognition of early life influences are critical in the etiology of breast cancer and helps to explain why several adult life primary prevention practices – as distinct to secondary prevention ones focusing on early detection – have been of limited effectiveness,” Trichopoulos said.” Prevention of breast cancer needs to take into account the very long natural history of the disease,” he added. Some good news for breast cancer survivors. Vital Signs: As we embark on another Breast Cancer Awareness month, there’s at least some good news to report. There can be life, apparently a high-quality life, after breast cancer treatment, a new survivors report says. Vital Signs has more.