The Savaged Breast
After years of announcing that the war on cancer was being won in the U.S., the National Cancer Institute acknowledged this month that it had previously underestimated the incidence of the disease, and that new diagnoses of at least one variant, breast cancer, have been increasing at a rate of 0.6 percent per year nationwide. That admission, coupled with a stunning 72 percent jump in the incidence of breast cancer in 46- to 64-year-old women in California’s wealthy Marin County during the 1990s, has prompted environmental health advocates to call for more research into the role of pollution, radiation, and other environmental factors in causing the disease. Most major cancer research centers downplay the connection, and little federal research money goes toward investigating the relationship between cancer and the environment. But last week, California received almost $1 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study that relationship, making it the 20th state in the nation to do so.