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Cancer Society Says U.S. Report Failed to Prove Health Risks
Date:5/7/2010

President's Cancer Panel called for more public awareness of harm from common chemicals

FRIDAY, May 7 (HealthDay News) -- One day after a report from the President's Cancer Panel faulted the United States for not doing enough to reduce the incidence of environmentally induced cancers, the American Cancer Society took issue with that conclusion.

The society agrees that many of the points raised in the report are important, but disagrees with the conclusion that it's an established fact that the effect of pollution -- especially from chemicals -- on cancer is much greater than had been thought. That connection remains unproven, said Dr. Michael J. Thun, the society's vice president emeritus for epidemiology and surveillance.

"We are not picking this fight because we like pollution," said Thun. "We hate pollution as much as anyone else. It's simply that cancer is a very important disease, pollution is a very important problem, but it's not clear how much the degree of overlap is."

According to Thun, the report's emphasis on pollution as an underestimated cause of cancer is partly due to Congress' reconsideration of the Toxic Substances Control Act, which gives the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to require reporting, record-keeping, testing and restrictions relating to chemical substances.

"The report was written in a way to draw attention to the issue and reflects the belief of the authors," he said.

Environmental factors are important and pollution contributes to some extent to cancer, Thun said. "The issue is at the dose to which we are exposed -- it's not clear that that has a large effect on cancer," he said. "It could have a large effect on cancer, but the evidence is not there yet."

Thun said the report also undervalued key cancer-prevention efforts, such as tobacco control; the development of a vaccine for human papilloma virus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer; as w
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