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Phipps conference to explore connections between cancer, environmental hazards

Stephen Huba
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Candy Williams
The newly-restored Phipps Conservatory Palm Court.

A conference exploring the connections between cancer and environmental hazards will be held at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on Tuesday. All the registrations are filled.

“Cancer and the Environment: Priorities for Research, Clinical Practice and Policy” will feature experts discussing the latest science on how cancer develops and the role of environmental risk factors. Participants also will identify actions to reduce carcinogens and cancer prevention strategies for Southwestern Pennsylvania.

“We know that harmful chemicals in our air, our water, our food, and even the products we use are important contributors to cancer. As medical professionals, it’s critical that we include these factors in our prevention efforts,” said Dr. James Herman, a medical oncologist at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Organized by the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the meeting will include presentations by scientists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute and academic institutions, including the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Conference highlights include:

  • Dr. Shaina Stacy of the University of the Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health: Research on the impact of unconventional natural gas operations in Pennsylvania on childhood cancer risk, specifically leukemia.
  • Dr. David Kriebel of UMass Lowell: Analysis comparing cancer rates among counties across the country. The analysis shows that even if smoking were eliminated, rates of cancers would remain higher in some counties — including Allegheny County — than in others.
  • Dr. Richard Clapp, professor emeritus at Boston University of School of Public Health: Overview of Pennsylvania cancer incidence rates, which were significantly higher than the U.S. from 2011-2015, and cancer incidence rates in Southwestern Pennsylvania and Allegheny County.

The conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., will include a panel discussion by regional governmental and nongovernmental leaders. A reception will follow.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.