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Brexit & Breast cancer: what does Brexit have to do with breast cancer?

Invitation to a Breast Cancer Prevention Month event – hosted by Helen Hayes MP. 26th October 11 am – 1 pm, Attlee Room, Portcullis House.

Speakers include: Helen Hayes MP, Zarin Hainsworth OBE, Chair NAWO, Helen Lynn, From Pink to Prevention, Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign, Nick Mole Policy Office Pesticide Action Network UK.

As we come to the end of Breast Cancer Prevention Month, we will be asking the question ‘what are the implications for breast cancer after Brexit?’ and exploring the answers. The chances are you’ll never have thought about breast cancer prevention in relation to Brexit. Yet they are linked. For example, our clean beaches and seas benefit from progressive EU legislation. Our health as citizens, consumers and workers most certainly has done and continues to benefit for EU legislation.

The European chemicals regulation (REACH) is a highly sophisticated, progressive pan-EU system to control toxic chemicals and, though not perfect, is the best in the world. At its heart is ‘the precautionary principle’ which means to take action to prevent harm, even if there is uncertainty. For the UK to be de-coupled from REACH would have a devastating impact on many aspects of consumer, workplace and environmental health and our economic wellbeing.

Please download the Brexit and breast cancer invite.

To reserve a place please RSVP to: Helen Lynn helen@frompinktoprevention.org Deborah Burton: 07779203455

European Parliament rejects unworkable and unlawful chemical regulation for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

European Parliament rejects unworkable and unlawful chemical regulation for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).
4/10/17

Today the European Parliament rejected the unworkable and controversial European Commission proposal of identification criteria for endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The Alliance for Cancer Prevention is very heartened that MEPs [i] have rejected this proposal as it would have failed in its aim to protect human health or our environment. As EDCs have long been linked with cancer, the proposal would not have contributed to cancer prevention which would have been a severe disappointment given their potential for recognition of EDCs as risk factors for cancer. EDCs can be found in wide range of products which people are exposed to each and every day, such as plastics, cosmetics, toys, building materials and cleaning products, through the work they do or the lives they lead.

By rejecting these illegal criteria [ii]the parliament has shown it cannot be waivered by vested interests or industry lobbying. Years of delays, the casting of doubt on the scientific evidence on EDCs and diverting debates by industry failed to sway the Parliament. A recent report by Ciel and Client Earth criticised the European Commission for allowing an exemption for endocrine disrupting pesticides.

The EDC Criteria are a long overdue opportunity to regulate harmful EDCs after almost half a century of usage. The proposed criteria set the bar far too high to allow the vast majority of EDCs to be classified. The Commission ignored countless scientific reports from respected institutes and scientists [iii] and the World Health Organisation which identified EDCs as a global threat that needed urgent resolving.[iv]

The Alliance is more hopeful now that any new proposal on the regulation of EDCs will actually be based on up to date scientific evidence and a real concern to protect human health and our environment from the harmful, irreparable and lasting effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals. And we are not alone, along with the EDC Free Europe Campaign organisations over 300k European citizens signed a Sum of Us petition calling on the European Parliament to put public health over corporate profits. [v]

Helen Lynn Alliance Facilitator said: Given the adverse impact of EDCs on cancer, and reproductive and developmental disorders, it is criminal to have had to wait so long for their regulation. In rejecting these criteria the European Parliament has shown itself to have real concern for EU citizens, workers and consumers. We hope that any future proposal will reach further and aim higher so we can really work to rid this world of EDCs.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention is a founder member of the EDC Free Europe Campaign. [vi]

Notes to Editor

[i] Motion for Resolution European Parliament. 

[ii] EU Commission’s Endocrine Disrupting Pesticides Criteria Are Unlawful, Conclude Two Legal Analyses – Ciel and Client Earth.

[iii] The Endocrine Society – Where we stand on EDCs.

[iv] State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – WHO 2012.

[v] Sum of Us Petition – Tell the Members of the European Parliament to put public health before corporate profits and ban harmful EDCs.

[vi] EDC-Free campaigners criticize vote on first ever EDC criteria.  EDC Free Europe. 

Flawed and ineffectual Endocrine disrupting chemical criteria agreed by European Commission.

After years of delay and quibbling by the European Commission on how far it would go to protect EU citizens from Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) , the end results suggests not far enough! Up until now EDCs, which are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, infertility and allergies, have had no effective regulation despite the fact that they can be found in a variety of products we live and work with on a daily basis. Scientists and independent scientific institutes have submitted evidence and written to the EC to express their concern about the ‘unfit for purpose’ EDC criteria. But despite scientific concerns and a petition signed by almost half a million people the Commission has now produced and agreed flawed criteria to assess EDCs which will fail to prevent unnecessary exposure for citizens and workers.

The criteria simply don’t go far enough and set the burden of proof so high for EDCs it’s unlikely many will be identified and therefore exposure will continue. The text as it stands will also allow an exemption for certain pesticides which are designed to be endocrine disrupting to get thru the loophole.

Initially Denmark, France and Sweden complained of the high burden of proof in the commission’s proposal but France’s newly elected president Emmanuel Macron voted through the criteria despite outlining his concerns before the election. But according to Chemsec in a press release from the French Ministry of Ecology it said that in return for its vote France got the Commission to commit to a number of actions against EDCs. These include an EU-wide strategy for toys, cosmetics and food packaging, the immediate implementation of the new criteria to substances currently being re-assessed, and an additional 50 million euros for EDC research. In addition, France promised even more activities at national level.

Twenty-one member states voted in favour of the criteria, with the Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden voting against. Hungary, Latvia, Poland and disappointedly but not surprisingly the UK abstained.

The EDC Free Europe Campaign is now calling on the European Parliament to reject these ineffectual criteria and to properly protect us from these harmful chemicals. The Alliance for Cancer  Prevention is so very disappointed by this lack of care by the EC which will see hundreds more suffer and die from largely preventable illnesses and diseases such as cancer due to EDC exposure. Especially after the many years of campaigning and the considerable scientific evidence weighted on the side of stronger criteria. This decision will have crucial implications for the future health of our children and the wider environment according to ChemTrust.

While individual EU countries can decide the health and wellbeing of their citizens are worth protecting and implement effective criteria –it’s unlikely we will see such progressive and prevention public health legislation from the UK government.

Press release from EDC Free Europe.

New report on why GE workers paying price for decades of exposure to toxic chemicals

A comprehensive study of chemical exposures at GE’s Peterborough plant shows workers routinely handled more than 3,000 highly toxic substances in decades past. GE has said protective measures were appropriate for the time and that health and safety of workers has always been ‘No. 1 priority.’

“For many years, workers and their family members were forced to provide proof as to their working conditions, only to be told this is anecdotal,” said Sue James, whose father Gord worked at the plant for 30 years and died of lung and spinal cancer, diseases his family believes were caused by his exposure to workplace chemicals.

“This report is a true depiction of the working conditions of the GE plant from its very beginnings until approximately 2000, when safety measures were finally being mandated,” said James, who was also employed by the company for 30 years and is among 11 retirees who worked as advisers on the report.

“It honours and recognizes the struggles and grief of a working community and gives validation to a historic past,” she added.

Plant workers, who built everything from household appliances to diesel locomotive engines and fuel cells for nuclear reactors, were exposed to more than 3,000 toxic chemicals, including at least 40 known or suspected to cause cancer, at levels hundreds of times higher than what is now considered safe, the report says.

Subsequent to the release of this report the Canadian Labour Minister Kevin Flynn seeks “expedited” settlement process for workers exposed to toxic chemicals at Peterborough plant in decades past.  Read the news report here.

Read the original article in the Toronto Star here.

The full report prepared by Robert DeMatteo and Dale DeMatteo available to download here.

 

NGOs express concern about lack of decisions on endocrine disruptors and nanotechnology

31 NGOs including the Alliance for Cancer Prevention have written a letter to the EU REACH Committee in lieu of crucial decisions to be made at next weeks meeting on the identification of endocrine disrupting chemicals and the delayed inclusion of nanoforms in REACH.

We are concerned about the identification of certain phthalates which are substances of very high concern and can be found in a variety of consumer products including cosmetics and plastics. The Alliance is particularly worried about those working with these chemicals and products on a daily basis where exposure can be continual. Delays on addressing nanoforms in REACH will also potentially impact on health of workers and consumers.

Letter can be seen here.

 

Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals — One more way CETA endangers public health and the environment.

The Alliance joined with 34 other public interest organisations lead by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL),  to write to the EU Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee to urge them to vote in favour of the draft ENVI Committee opinion  which calls for the rejection of the EU Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) at their meeting on the 12/1/17. The organisations believe that CETA will prioritise trade and monetary interests over public health and environment, and so the decision to conclude CETA by February 2017 should be rejected.

The European Commission is already on course to lower EU standards to protect against harmful and toxic Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs).  EDCs are harmful chemicals that have been linked to a wide range of diseases, including cancer, birth defects and other developmental disorders which conservative estimates estimate to cost Europeans more than € 160 billion each year in additional health expenses. If CETA is allowed to enter into force it will considerable weaken any regulations on EDCs. Trade must not be allowed to take priority over our health, the health of our environment and wildlife.

You can support the call by sending the letter to your MEP copy can be downloaded here.

Sign up the the Sum of Us Campaign here.

Follow us on Twitter:
@Cancer_Alliance,
@TTIPingToxics,
@ciel_tweets,
@HealthandEnv
@EDCFree

 

 

 

Cancer all-clear for night work was based on ‘bad science’

An Oxford University study that concluded the classification of night work as a cause of breast cancer in women is no longer justified was based on ‘bad science’, top researchers have warned.

The large scale ‘meta-analysis’, published online on 6 October 2016 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI), concluded “night shift work, including long-term night shift work, has little or no effect on breast cancer incidence.” It added the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) ranking of night work as a ‘probable’ cause of breast cancer in women “is no longer justified.”

But three of the most respected epidemiologists on night work and breast cancer have now said they “fully disagree” with this conclusion, noting a succession of methodological flaws in the research “invalidate” its conclusions.

Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Eva Schernhammer told Hazards magazine that given the Oxford study’s “bad science”, it was “not surprising” it found no effect. In a detailed criticism of the paper, published online on 15 December, she said the JNCI paper’s many shortcomings “preclude it from making the conclusion that there is no association between night work and breast cancer risk.”

Johnni Hansen, a researcher with the Danish Cancer Society, was equally unimpressed. “They base their conclusion on a poor study, but even worse is that their conclusion may hinder preventive initiatives for night workers,” he said.

Richard Stevens, of the University of Connecticut medical school, who has written influential papers on the topic with both Schernhammer and Hansen, was blunt. “Why was the paper written in the first place?” he asked.

The main cohorts in the Oxford study, which was financed by the Medical Research Council, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK), were “worryingly old”, with many over retirement age, and the follow up was “unusually short”, Hansen said.

The risk of women developing breast cancer appears to wane in the years after night working ends, so studying retired workers without recent exposures misses the point and the cancers, said Schernhammer. She said the higher risk is seen in women with long exposures ­ at least 15 years ­ early in their careers. Hansen added the authors behind the JNCI study should have recognised the possibility of ‘truncation bias’ in their analysis.

Night work was sometimes defined so loosely in the study participants, a single night shift might have seen a worker added to the ‘exposed’ group despite facing minimal exposure and risk. The JNCI paper also discounted case-control studies and those exploring the mechanism behind a possible association. According to Stevens, the JNCI meta-analysis “excluded case-control studies, of which there are many, for no good reason.”

He added that studies considering the biological mechanisms give a valuable insight into why and where you might look for an association. Understanding the process, something integral to his own research, was important, he indicated.

Stevens, Schernhammer and Hansen, together with Scott Davis, a professor of epidemiology in the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, are the stand-out epidemiologists on night work and breast cancer.

Not one of them was asked to review the paper. “We are the four epidemiologists who have been working for by far the longest on the epidemiology of night work and breast cancer,” said Stevens, who is dismayed the Oxford study, led by molecular epidemiologist Ruth Travis, found its way in to a high visibility journal like JNCI.  “Any of the four of us would have quickly noticed the severe flaws of the Travis paper and pointed them out to the editors of JNCI.”

He said it was “absurd” that the night work association with breast cancer was being dismissed on the back of a “troubling” paper by “a distinguished group of experienced researchers who should have known better.”

The JNCI study’s lead author, Ruth Travis, declined an invitation from Hazards to address the detailed criticisms of the study.

*   Ruth C Travis and others. Night shift work and breast cancer incidence: Three prospective studies and meta-analysis of published studies, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, volume 108, number 12, published online 6 October 2016.

This breast cancer month, we need to ask why are we still ignoring the elephant in the room?

Press Release
As we find ourselves mid-way through the global fundraising phenomena that is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, From Pink to Prevention asks ‘are environmental and occupational risk factors for the disease the elephant in the room?’ 

Given breast cancer incidence has risen by 64% since the 1970’s in the UK, why are increasing efforts to draw attention to these confounding risk factors met with an unyielding lack of acknowledgement by the breast cancer establishment which includes the government, and breast cancer charities?

From Pink To Prevention (FPTP) and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention argues that everybody, especially women who are more at risk of breast cancer, have the ‘right to know’ the up-to-date science on breast cancer which, for decades, has been linking the escalating rates of breast cancer with exposures to toxic chemicals in our homes, workplaces and wider environment along with workplaces practices such as night shift work.

This October FPTP has produced a new Tool-Kit with interactive webpage, posters and action guide and with contributions from some of the leading experts, writers and campaigners from across Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, UK), USA, Canada, Australia and the Philippines. It advocates that that it is time to move from pink to prevention, beginning by renaming the month Breast Cancer Prevention Month, as suggested by Gudrun Kemper from Breast Cancer Action Germany.

Lisette Van Vliet from the Health and Environment Alliance cites the call by the World Health Organisation for the recognition of the environmental and occupational exposures that cause cancer to be an integral component of cancer control worldwide. As Professor Andrew Watterson points out, assessments estimate that there are  at least 50% of breast cancers we can’t explain, so  a good starting place would be to remove the carcinogens, some 216 chemicals in regular commercial use, that have been linked to breast cancer.

From Pink to Prevention campaigner Diana Ward is disturbed to discover the failure of leading breast cancer charities to inform women about all the risk factors, and questions the exclusive focus on lifestyle factors (alcohol, exercise and smoking) and the 10% of cases linked to genetic factors, to the exclusion of the impact toxic chemicals are having on the health of every single one of us. Given that the vast amount of existing research into lifelong (womb to grave) exposures to environmental and occupational risk factors and the fact that breast cancer is a hormonal disease, this selective narrative could be seen as a barrier to official and public recognition of the right to know.

In her film ‘Endocrination’, Stephane Horel very effectively outlines the blocking by the chemical lobby of progressive legislation by the EU to try and control exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) – chemical which affect our body’s messenger system and so all aspects of life. EDCs have been linked to breast and other cancers as well as damaging our reproduction, growth and development. Studies have shown that these EDCs build up in human body tissue and can be detected in our blood, urine and breast milk, up to 300 different manmade chemicals have been detected in the human body.

Researchers Dr. Jim Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith are concerned that workplace exposures can take many forms and think we should use workers’ health as a barometer for the wellbeing of the whole of society. Toxic chemicals used and produced in the workplace find their way into our general environment where they pose a threat to people of all ages. Their investigation into occupational breast cancer in Canada showed an elevated breast cancer risk for women working in agriculture and metal working, with women in both automotive plastics and food canning having an almost five-fold risk.

Toxic chemicals linked to breast and other cancers or to other illnesses and diseases have no place in our bodies. It’s not just EDCs but a host of other breast cancer carcinogens as well as physical risk factors such as shift work and ionising radiation which need to be urgently addressed. Helen Lynn, Alliance for Cancer Prevention and  From Pink to Prevention campaigner, questions why, when we know about the links between these carcinogens and breast cancer,  we aren’t asking the question why environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer are not included and actioned in every cancer plan and strategy?

In Europe, Women in Europe for a Common Future’s executive director Sascha Gabizon asks why primary prevention (stopping the disease before it starts) is being ignored in favour of an unsustainable and costly epidemic? Survival rates continue to fall despite increased spending. Every 6 minutes a woman dies from breast cancer in the EU.  WECF, as the women’s organisation working on health and the environment, calls on the EU for a strategy on the primary prevention of breast cancer.

Forty years ago breast cancer was a disease of the wealthier nations but now half of all breast cancers are occurring in countries which are rapidly being industrialised, such as the Philippines. Danny de Meneses from the Philippine Breast Cancer Network is very concerned about the Philippines having the highest incidence rate of breast cancer in Asia and the highest increase of 589% among 187 countries over a 30 year period from 1980 to 2010. It has the 11th highest incidence rate of breast cancer in the world.

Hilda Palmer from the Hazards Campaign thinks some Trade Unions could be doing more by taking a proactive and preventive approach to cancer caused by work. Occupational cancer should be a priority, starting by addressing the 16% of occupational cancers through the empowerment of Safety Reps to use the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations.  Safety Representatives need information and support on how to hold employers to their legal duty to prevent exposure to chemical carcinogens, and how to challenge and negotiate shift patterns for all workers and night work for women which increases the risk of breast cancer.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas thinks we still have some way to go before we take a precautionary approach to risks associated with breast cancer but quotes the US scientist Sandra Steingraber, who says “From the right to know and the duty to inquire flows the obligation to act.”

The global Pink Ribbon has become the most prominent global icon of a deadly disease according to academic and campaigner Grazia de Michele, who argues that  breast cancer is anything but ‘feminine, joyful and relaxing’. The Pink Ribbon, used to sell products, many of which themselves contain chemicals linked to breast cancer, range from cosmetics to food, jewellery, clothing and even cars and drill bits. As a result, it has ‘normalised’ the fact that thousands of women worldwide are diagnosed with and die from breast cancer. The original aim – to spur public opinion to demand political change – was deflected, some would say stolen – by a capitalist system where the combination of marketing skills and our own purchasing power can guarantee corporates unlimited ‘pink’ profiteering.

While we do not want to undermine those who gain hope, strength and a sense of community from pink ribbon fundraising, we do need to ask questions about the pink ribbon brand.  Patricia Kearns from Breast Cancer Action Quebec and adviser for the film ‘Pink Ribbons Inc’ notes the growing criticism of the trend for business to ‘cash in’ on the disease. “Pink-washing” means, on the one hand selling products to raise money for the disease while on the other, using ingredients in that product which linked to causing the disease. Breast cancer is a good cause for big corporations as women make 80% of the buying decisions but with less than 5% of the money raised spent on primary prevention and finding the root cause of the disease, questions need to be asked before hands are put into purses.

No one is saying that healthy lifestyles aren’t admirable, and encouragement to eat well and exercise is a positive thing but Challenge Breast Cancer Scotland questions why many healthy women still get breast cancer? Moira Adams bemoans the continual lecturing to women on how they are to blame for their own breast cancer with the almost exclusive focus on healthy lifestyle. This October CBCS’s message is:  Stop passing the buck to women and start taking responsibility for our polluted environment and the chemical cocktails we are subjected to on a daily basis.

Deborah Burton from Pink to Prevention campaigner thinks the ultimate responsibility for primary prevention should lie with government but that this is patently not the case. There are myriad ways in which the cancer establishment has proven its capacity in blocking any debate, recognition and action on the role of environmental and occupational factors for breast cancer. This means that as long as national cancer practices and policies continue to be so influenced by the cancer establishment, environmental and occupational risk factors will be excluded from government agendas.

Scottish Campaigner Dr. Morag Parnell asks why current trends are being slavishly accepted, given the role that industrialisation has played in its links to the growth of cancer diagnoses. We need look no further than the WHOs global cancer map. Lack of political will by governments to eliminate human exposure to such chemicals and substances already known to be carcinogenic is overlooked in favour of asking science and commerce to invent new disease detection and treatments. In themselves they are needed but they  do little to prevent exposures wherever possible, while  much money is made out of them.

Gayle Sulik from the Breast Cancer Consortium believes there is an urgent need to change the conversation around breast cancer and to ‘get real’ about this disease and to acknowledge that there is an ocean of misinformation, trivialization, and commercialization that is undermining the movement, and the breast cancer cause  itself. What’s more, pink ribbon hype diverts money and attention away from endeavours and ideas that have a greater chance of making a real difference to the diagnosed, those at risk, and the epidemic at large.

We have to acknowledge what women have already achieved in making breast cancer a national priority increasing awareness and funding for better treatment and care. But we need to move beyond the pink ribbon version of awareness. We need truth. Evidence. Action.

www.frompinktoprevention.org
www.allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk

Tel: 07960033687

info@frompinktoprevention.org

Notes to Editor:

  1. On line Tool Kit and posters: From Pink to Prevention and the Alliance for Cancer Prevention campaign has produced an online ‘tool-kit’ to help the wider public understand  the links between environmental and occupational risk factors and the obstacles that stand in the way of these risk factors being accepted and acted on by government, breast cancer charities and industry. The toolkit includes an interactive webpage, downloadable posters and a guide on how to be better informed and take action.
  2. Scientific Evidence From Pink to Prevention.
  3. EDM Early Day Motion on environmental and occupational risk factors . Caroline Lucas MP will table an Early Day Motion to Parliament calling upon the Government to act upon the urgent inclusion of environmental and occupational risk factors into all National Cancer Plans and strategies. More information on the FPTP website.
  4. FPTP is organising a Book Launch on the 31st of October in London of So Much to Be Done by Barbara Brenner. The event is support by Unison, the Alliance for Cancer Prevention and the Breast Cancer Consortium. More information here.
  5. Press release for October 2016.

Samsung lung cancer deaths were ‘occupational’

At SHARPS’ sit-in site, each pair of white rubber sleepers represents a cluster victim. Credit: Lee Ki-hwa

The lung cancer deaths of two former Samsung Electronics semiconductor factory workers have been accepted as work-related by the Korea Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service (KCOMWEL).

The cases are the first officially recognised cases of occupational lung cancer among Samsung Electronics semiconductor workers. The ruling is expected to prove controversial, with lung cancer not included among diseases Samsung Electronics has acknowledged as linked to semiconductor work. – See more at: Cancer Hazards

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European Commission crosses Parliament’s red lines on TTIP, say 65+ organisations

Over 65 civil society organisations warned European Parliament President Martin Schulz that the European Commission is failing to comply with Parliament’s 2015 Resolution on the EU-US trade agreement (TTIP). In crossing Parliament’s “red lines”, the Commission’s TTIP proposals endanger public health, the environment, and democracy.

The letter, signed by organisations representing consumers, farmers, not-for-profit health insurers, the environment, and public interest, comes ahead of the 14th round of TTIP negotiations, planned to start on 11 July in Brussels. The organizations urge President Schultz to use his influence to ensure that the Commission complies with the European Parliament’s 2015 Resolution on TTIP,

The letter highlights the findings of a new report, which demonstrates that the European Commission has crossed several dangerous red lines established by the European Parliament. The report, authored by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), ClientEarth and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), clarifies that the European Commission’s TTIP proposals can affect the more protective EU chemical and pesticide laws, can undermine the EU regulatory system, and fail to respect the jurisdiction of courts of the EU and Member States.

Copy of the letter can be downloaded here TTIP letter to Schulz

A preliminary analysis by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), ClientEarth and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) published on 7 July 2016 – A Compliance Check of the European Parliament’s TTIP Resolution -Public health, environment and democracy at risk can be viewed here.

 

 

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