News FocusEpidemiology

No Meeting of Minds on Childhood Cancer

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Science  03 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5446, pp. 1832-1834
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5446.1832

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Two years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency warned that cancer rates among American children have been rising for decades, fueled perhaps by increased exposure to new chemicals in the environment, and launched several initiatives aiming at reducing the risks to children. The National Cancer Institute responded by speeding up the pace of an already-planned review of childhood cancer rates, but concluded from that study that there has been no dramatic rise and attributed any apparent increase to better diagnosis rather than a phantom environmental menace. To some researchers, new efforts to understand the causes behind childhood cancers initiated in an attempt to settle the debate make the scuffle over cancer rates worthwhile.