Why Does the East Side Have One of New York's Highest Rates of Breast Cancer?

Nov 9, 2001
Press Release
WASHINGTON: The U.S. House of Representatives this week appropriated $500,000 for a New York University Medical Center study on the potential causes of high breast cancer rates on Manhattan's East Side, neighborhoods along the East River, and in Rockland County. Specifically, the study will investigate environmental factors that may be related to increased rates of breast cancer. The $500,000 appropriation was voted on as part of the fiscal year 2002 Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Appropriation conference report. After the Senate votes on the conference report, the President is expected to sign the legislation into law.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (Manhattan, Queens), who worked aggressively with Rockland County's Congressman, Ben Gilman to obtain the allocation, said, "When I learned last year of the extreme prevalence of breast cancer on the East Side, I knew we needed to take action right away. There is no good excuse to remain a high risk community and to find solutions, we need to know the causes. This study will investigate the relationship between environmental factors around Manhattan's East Side, along the East River, and Rockland County and the high incidence of breast cancer in these areas."

Last year, the New York State Department of Health released findings from its Cancer Surveillance Improvement Initiative. The report found that Manhattan's East Side and Rockland County have among the highest breast cancer incidence in the State. Specifically, the study shows that a majority of these two areas are characterized by "elevated incidence" and are 15-50% higher than the state average for breast cancer incidence.

Rep. Maloney, working with Rep. Gilman, pushed for the $500,000 appropriation to study carcinogen levels near power plants and factories within the two areas and electromagnetic radiation coming from power coils. The funds will go to a study at NYU Medical Center, where these factors and their effects on human breast cancer will be further observed.

Rep. Maloney, in remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives, extended her thanks to Chairman James Walsh (NY) and Ranking Member Alan Mollohan (WV) of the appropriations subcommittee on VA-HUD and Rep Gilman. She also expressed her appreciation for the help and support of the entire New York delegation.