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May 7, 2010
I find the President's Cancer Panel report -at least, the general tone of it - hard to believe. Most of the headlines yesterday focused on the "grievous harm", "bombarding", and "grossly underestimated" statements, and suggested that there was an epidemic of environmentally-caused cancer. Since most age-adjusted cancer incidence rates have, in fact, been dropping, I find this a bit hard to believe.
Here's the whole report (whopping PDF). Update: that link may be bad - try here. It actually does mention that cancer rate data, but (as far as I can see) just sort of blows right past it. And while I take the point that endocrine disruptors and the like need to be watched (and that we really do need to study these things more), I don't see why the alarm bells need to be rung quite this loudly.
I see that the American Cancer Society seems to agree. My own views are closer to those of Bruce Ames (PDF) than to the President's panel. We should always be alert to possible environmental causes of cancer, but we should also realize that (as far as we can tell) they seem to be relatively minor.
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