Plain Dealer: Senators want better investigations of ‘disease clusters,’ but may disagree on methods

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Plain Dealer: Senators want better investigations of ‘disease clusters,’ but may disagree on methods

It’s still not known why the town of Wellington, Ohio, had more than three times the number of multiple sclerosis cases you’d expect.

Was it because of a former foundry in the Lorain County community, or emissions or materials from another factory, or could genetics, diet or something else hold a piece of the puzzle? Researchers have had a hard time pinpointing links between the cases, first reported two decades ago, partly because MS is a complex disease whose causes aren’t fully known, said James Boddy, Lorain County director of environmental health.

Now several U.S. senators are pushing for a federal law that would bring more scientific and environmental enforcement toward solving the riddle when a single disease afflicts an unusually high number of people in a single area. This might make a difference around Clyde, too, another northern Ohio community affected by a high prevalence of a disease — in this case childhood cancer — according to a co-sponsor of the legislation, Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. Clyde and the surrounding area of Sandusky County have reported 35 cases of childhood cancer, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

“Cancer clusters, like the one in Clyde, have caused enormous suffering and heartbreak in communities across our country,” Brown said. “We need to do more to find out why so many young lives have been affected by cancer in these cluster areas.”

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