The education ministry canceled a gene sampling project Wednesday following a protest from the Japan Medical Association over ethical issues.

The JMA and members of the gene project team will review the cancer epidemiology study, which had been scheduled to begin Wednesday in Kumano, Hiroshima Prefecture, according to officials of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

On Wednesday, the JMA blasted the cancer study, saying the ministry has not disclosed important information to participants, thereby violating their rights.

The JMA submitted a letter of protest to the ministry, alleging the institutions conducting the study — the Aichi Cancer Center Research Institute and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation — did not inform subjects that their genetic data would be analyzed. The groups also failed to provide proper measures to protect participants’ personal information, it said.

Some 130 people appointed by the Kumano township have been visiting local families, passing on information about the tests and conducting surveys on residents’ living habits and the health of their relatives. They also asked residents to participate in blood tests scheduled to start in August, the JMA said.

Because many of those distributing the information are community leaders, the residents could feel pressured to comply, it said.

The JMA also expressed concern over possible leaks of personal data.

The Aichi Cancer Center and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation plan to collect blood samples from 14,000 volunteers over the age of 40 in Kumano as part of a study into genes and living habits. They hope the results can be used to develop measures to prevent cancer.

They plan to collect blood samples from 100,000 people nationwide in the future.

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