LA Times resorts to scare tactics on breast cancer and chemicals

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A recent Los Angeles Times headline reads, Breast cancer: Pollution link remains hazy but upon reading the whole article, readers will soon realize that no actual link exists, says Dr. Ross. Reporter Jill U. Adams begins by acknowledging that there is no clear relationship between environmental exposure and breast cancer, yet she proceeds to outline various animal studies and other debunked research that have attempted to establish an association between chemicals and the disease. And when citing certain toxins, the reporter of course mentions pesticides such as DDT and industrial chemicals such as PCBs banned in 1978 as specific breast cancer propagators, even though these tenuous links have been found only in studies of mice and other rodents.

When referring to human research, Adams recalls studies in California s Marin County, as well as New York s Long Island, that allegedly found an increased rate of breast cancer among women with higher exposure to environmental pollutants. Yet once socioeconomic status was accounted for, the high rates disappeared, points out Deborah Winn, deputy director of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland.

Despite the obvious conclusion that environmental chemicals do not cause breast cancer, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross is annoyed that the paper s headline insinuates there is still an ongoing scientific debate about the issue. The LA Times should be ashamed of publishing such a misleading and irresponsible piece, he says. Ms. Adams alarmism will serve only to needlessly scare women and their families and distract from valid research aimed at reducing the toll of breast cancer.

The only thing hazy is probably the air in L.A., notes ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom. The science seems quite clear, he adds.