Kids in Crisis: Health Department called into question

Posted at 10:26 PM, Aug 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-04 09:20:05-04

FORT MYERS, Fla.- For those living in Florida, south of Lake Okeechobee, a number of scientific studies show pediatric cancer rates soaring.

Scientists say their frustrated the Florida Department of Health has done little to figure out what is causing the spike in deadly diseases for our children.
Not one, but five different studies are showing kids in this region have a greater chance of getting cancer than in the rest of the state.
Scientists want more funding to do more research to figure out what is causing it.  But they say the DOH is strangely silent on the issue.
"I'd say the state is completely negligent in failing to alert citizens and to follow up on a very serious health threat." says Alan Farago with Friends of the Everglades.
He says there is too much to ignore, showing a link between the people living south of Lake Okeechobee and alarming pediatric cancer rates.
A map shows in red where children have a 36% greater risk then the rest of the state for contracting cancer.
Dr. Raid Amin with the University of West Florida conducted the first study in 2010.  He says the Florida Department of Health met with him to discuss the study but then the state went silent.  "Nothing happened at all!"
The American Statistical Association was so alarmed by the results, five different researchers did their own independent studies.
And just last year, the A.S.A., led by David Banks from Duke University, devoted an entire morning of their symposium. They poured over the numbers which continued to point to a health crisis.
He says the Florida Department of Health is falling behind.  "It is a disappointment yes. it seems to me there is a public duty to take a warning seriously."
FOX 4 News reached out to the Florida Department of Health.  They said they had no comment at this time.
There may be a link between Lake "O" and pediatric cancer, but without further studies no one can understand what is causing it.  Other scientists who didn't not want to go on record explained that getting funding for research projects has become political.
So if a powerful lobbyist feels such studies would be a threat, researchers kind find themselves frozen out of getting any type of funding.
The DOH did get back to FOX 4 News and stating that it's team reviewed the data and they do not see any elevated risk of pediatric cancer.
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