In a continuing increase in breast cancer, one in nine women in the UK now risk contracting the disease during their lifetime.
Some scientists argue that the cause may be an increased exposure to a number of environmental chemicals, a claim taken up by campaigners in the US and the UK who urge the government to provide better health protection. However, whereas the UK government has been keen to engage people in debate about genetics, GM crops and mobile phone masts, some say it is less enthusiastic about debate on breast cancer, where the research is officially regarded as equivocal.
In recognition of the concern to raise the profile of citizens influence and expertise in the management and control of risk, the Economic and Social Research Council has sponsored a detailed investigation of the issues involved here. A research team led by Laura Potts, Reader in Public Health and Environment, York St. John College has undertaken a project (ESRC Report "Divided we stand: bridging differential understandings of environmental risk") in which a number of interviews, focus groups and discussions with key people were set up. It organised three local hearings at which participants were asked to map any local environmental hazards, as has been done in the US. A national hearing staged at the House of Commons drew together public health practitioners, advocacy groups, activists, environmental and non-governmental officers, dissident scientists, women with experience of breast cancer, epidemiologists, research scientists and an MP.
Becky Gammon | alfa
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