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EU rebuffs China’s challenge to pollution plan

BRUSSELS — The European Commission said Monday that it would continue charging airlines for their greenhouse gas emissions, despite an announcement from China that its carriers would be forbidden to pay without its permission.

“We’re not backing down in our legislation, we’ll apply this to companies operating in Europe,” said Isaac Valero-Ladron, a spokesman for the European Commission, the Union’s executive body.

The system, which began Jan. 1 and requires airlines to account for all of their emissions on flights that land at, or take off from, European airports, represents the Union’s boldest move to date to protect the climate.

The system involves folding aviation into the Union’s 6-year-old Emissions Trading System, in which polluters can buy and sell a limited quantity of permits, each representing a ton of carbon dioxide.

Earlier Monday, the Chinese air regulator effectively barred the nation’s carriers from paying those charges or other fees, or increasing ticket prices in response to the EU system, without permission from the government. The Chinese government said it was also considering unspecified measures in response to protect Chinese companies.

—James Kanter, The New York Times

Cancer-deterring drug found to harm bones

A drug that scientists hoped might be a safe new way to prevent breast cancer appears to pose a risk after all: significant bone loss.

The finding, published online Monday in The Lancet Oncology, could make women more reluctant to use the drug, exemestane, and it deals a setback to the notion that one day healthy people might take medicine to reduce their risk of getting cancer.

“One might not be too reassured about the use of exemestane in the prevention setting,” Jane A. Cauley, an epidemiologist at the University of Pittsburgh, wrote in a commentary that accompanied the study.

Exemestane (brand name Aromasin) is already used to prevent recurrence of breast cancer. But a large study published last June showed its use could reduce the risk of getting invasive breast cancer in the first place by about 65 percent, compared with a placebo, in women at higher risk of the disease.

While two other drugs, tamoxifen and raloxifene, are already approved to prevent breast cancer, they are rarely used for that purpose, in part because of serious side effects like blood clots. But exemestane does not have those side effects.

Dr. Angela M. Cheung, the lead investigator of the new study, said its findings should not discourage women at high risk of getting breast cancer from considering the drug.

—Andrew Pollack, The New York Times