The landmark National Children's Study will track 100,000 children for the first 21 years of their life to examine the environmental causes of disease -- but cancer will not be one of the diseases studied, according to a story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Seven localities around the country -- in Wisconsin, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, North Carolina and South Dakota -- will be the focus of the study, which will track outcomes and environmental triggers associated with seven diseases: Birth defects, genetics, brain development, injuries, obesity, asthma and social exposure. Cancer was left off the list -- despite parental concern in neighborhoods where cancer rates appear higher than normal.
Superfund sites and other areas where people have been exposed to toxic substances have long been eyed with suspicion, and apparently increased rates of childhood cancer has been an ongoing concern among those concerned about toxic chemicals in the environment. Cancer was left off the list because the sample size -- 100,000 children -- was deemed too small to yield meaningful results.
This study is of great importance. It should shed light on the ways children develop diseases, and identify ways to prevent disease at ages when people are most vulnerable. Time and again, it has been shown that the reaction to toxic chemicals is a product of several factors: the dose and duration of exposure, any genetic predisposition to disease -- and, importantly, the time of life when the exposure occurs, since chemicals can interfere with natural biochemical processes.
To learn more about the study, click here.
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