There’s a piece in the NYT about the connection — or lack of connection — between trace chemicals in the environment and cancer. The conclusion, broadly speaking, is that science doesn’t yet know enough to make a firm link, but conventional wisdom has nonetheless settled on a rather unwarranted degree of paranoia.

One Brit doctor claims cancer rates — if tobacco-related cancers are screened out — have actually been falling for 50 years, and goes so far as to say firmly: "Pollution is not a major determinant of U.S. cancer rates."

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A couple of folks have blogged about this. For my part, I’m a little leery to take it at face value, given the reporter’s history. (See this old Nation piece on Gina Kolata’s excessive deference to the big corporations she covers.)

Still, nothing is quite so screwed up and off-base as Americans’ sense of the risks they face (car crashes, people. car crashes.), so anything that can take the edge off the latest overblown fear is a good thing in my book.

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