Environment - cancer study backed by bill

March 04, 1993|By Newsday

A bill authorizing the first major federal study to look specifically at whether environmental factors play a role in breast and prostate cancer has been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The two-year study would be conducted by two of the federal government's premier research institutes -- the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences -- and would include elaborate environmental testing as well as in-depth questioning of hundreds or perhaps thousands of people. Congressional aides estimated the study would cost between $200,000 and $2 million.

In studying both sick and healthy people and assessing their exposure to environmental problems, the researchers would look for correlations between the two forms of cancer and exposure to contaminated drinking water, indoor and outdoor air pollution, electromagnetic fields, pesticides, hazardous waste, landfills and incinerators.

"This is what we've been waiting for," said Barbara Balaban, who heads the Breast Cancer Support Project at Adelphi University's School of Social Work. "This is a quantum leap, because it's the first time the U.S. government is going to look at the environment and breast cancer."

Lawmakers predicted that the cancer study amendment would face little opposition because it is attached to the bill reauthorizing the National Institutes of Health.

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