House Panel Holds Hearing on Breast Cancer and Environment Legislation
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a May 21 hearing on legislation (H.R. 1157) to foster additional research at NIH on the possible environmental causes of breast cancer. Subcommittee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) noted that the legislation had been introduced in several previous Congressional sessions, and he and the sponsors of the bill hoped it would be passed without further delay.
Dr. Deborah Winn, chief of the Clinical and Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch in NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, testified that although the House bill is "well intended," it could have the "unintended consequence of narrowing the field of inquiry and promoting an unwise use of precious resources by mandating a specific way of conducting Federal research in breast cancer."
She stated that NIH and NCI already have sufficient authority to address this research area, noting that in FY 2008, "We expect $60.7 million will be specifically spent on researching the role of the environment in breast cancer development at NCI, and $35 million will be spent at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, totaling almost $100 million in support of this important area across NIH."
Chairman Pallone noted that NIH had previously agreed to several revisions of the Senate version of the legislation (S.579). Dr. Winn reiterated that NIH did not oppose the Senate bill. S.579 was passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on February 27, 2008. Another witness, Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, said her group had negotiated with NIH on the revisions to the Senate bill. She and several House subcommittee members expressed hope that, with House concurrence to those revisions, the legislation may be passed during the current congressional session.