Friday, May 14, 2010

Environmentally Caused Cancers

Reading this article prompted me to re-publish a post I wrote from 2008. It illustrates how little positive progress has been made in our society to alleviate the chemical burden placed on our environment and ourselves.


Environmentally Caused Cancers 'Grossly Underestimated'

In the fight against cancer we may not be paying enough attention to what's right before our eyes. A new report from the President's Cancer Panel reveals that cancer stemming from environmental factors have be "grossly underestimated," Marla Cone reports for Environmental Health News. "The panel advised President Obama 'to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation's productivity, and devastate American lives,'" Cone wrote.

The President's Cancer Panel was initiated in 1971 and oversees the National Cancer Program. This year, in recommending that Obama take more action to address environmental factors that could lead to cancer, the panel pointed its fingers at a few culprits in particular: bisphenol A, radon, formaldehyde and benzene.

But that's not all -- they also advised being cautious when it comes to CT scans and other tests that expose people to radiation. Shockingly, Cone writes that according to the report, a CT chest scan will give a person a similar does of radiation as someone who was a half mile from the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

And speaking of bombs, the report also calls out the U.S. military for creating toxic environments like Camp Lejeuene and for the exposure of veterans to Agent Orange.

But it's not just war zones that are dangerous, the panel also recommended increasing public education about the potential hazards in our food, air and water.

One of the most important highlights in the report was the call for a more precautionary approach when it comes to the regulation of chemicals -- something the chemical industry has long fought. Hopefully Congress and the president will take notice.

Tara Lohan is a senior editor at where she heads up the environment, water, and food sections. Her work has appeared on the websites of The Nation, Mother Jones, the Huffington Post and in Yes! Magazine.

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