Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today joined the Breast Cancer Fund and other organizations in calling for a comprehensive investigation of the linkages between environmental contaminants and breast cancer and other diseases. "Environmental health will be a central human rights issue of the next century," Pelosi emphasized. "Everyone has the right to live in an environment free of deadly pollutants and toxic waste, and every child has a right to be born free of exposure to toxic chemicals."
Day and night, American women die of breast cancer at the rate of five per hour. The incidence of breast cancer has risen approximately one percent per year since the mid-1940s and is now second only to lung cancer as a cause of deaths from cancer among women.
"We have spent billions of dollars in the war on cancer," Pelosi noted, "but the emphasis on treatment has lead to the neglect of prevention and research. We need to understand the environmental role in breast cancer. We need to know what we are doing to the earth and to our bodies."
Last year, Pelosi led the fight to triple funding at the Environmental Health Laboratory of the Centers for Disease Control to $21 million for fiscal year 1999. In the appropriations bill for fiscal year 2000, now awaiting Congressional action, funding for the Lab is increased by another $5 million, to a total of $26 million.
"I strongly support today's call for a cross-agency committee to oversee government funding for environmental health research," said Pelosi. "Two years ago I requested the General Accounting Office to make recommendations for improving the collection, analysis, and accessibility of environmental health information. Results of the analysis are expected early next year. I have also requested a special hearing on environmental health in the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor-HHS-Education and have urged the Chairman to hold it early in the new year."
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