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Experts: Research fails to address environmental factors in breast cancer causes

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Breast cancerAn interagency panel tasked with studying how the U.S. spends money in the study and prevention of breast cancer said on Tuesday that more money should be spent to study environmental causes of the disease as well as how women can prevent it.

According to the New York Times, the group has concluded that funds devoted to breast cancer are being spent inefficiently and without much coordination between agencies tackling the disease.

The committee, made up of one-third scientists, one-third government officials and one-third members of advocacy groups, was empaneled in accordance with 2008′s Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Act. It presented its findings in the report, “Breast Cancer and the Environment — Prioritizing Prevention,” emphasized environmental factors, which included behaviors like diet, alcohol intake and exercise; exposure to chemicals like pesticides, industrial compounds and the dyes and fragrances in makeup, clothing and food; as well as drugs, radiation exposure and factors tied to social status and socioeconomic conditions.

The study noted that scientists have long known that a combination of genetic and environmental factors cause cancer. The question is what environmental factors are driving U.S. cancer rates. Why, for example, do women who move to the U.S. from Japan develop breast cancer at the same rate as American women? Their genetics are the same, so environmental causes would appear to bear the blame.

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