CBS just aired “Stand Up 2 Cancer,” a telethon with countless Hollywood stars and reports of research being done to fight cancer. All of this is necessary and great, but I’m concerned that people don’t care enough about what causes cancer and a host of other disabling diseases and disorders. Obviously, most people know that smoking and alcohol are huge risk factors, and poor diets that lack enough fruits and vegetables don’t help either. But there is increasing evidence that pollution and chemicals in the environment are to blame for the increase in cancers and disorders such as autism.
There are 80,000 chemicals in the U.S., and only about 200 of them have been tested for safety. People are constantly saying we need less regulation. To them, it’s a slogan, but having less regulation hurts, and results in an increasingly polluted environment, tainted food, and oil spills, not to mention the financial crisis.
Heavy metals in the environment such as mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium are health hazards, not to mention many of the 78,800 chemicals that haven’t been tested for safety.
In April 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel published “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk” and concluded that cancer has been caused by environmental factors much more often than previously thought. Last July I wrote an article in Examiner.com about the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act introduced into Congress, a bill that aims to improve safety for chemicals, many of which are linked to cancer and autism.
Also in July, I wrote about the National Children’s Study, an effort to determine which pesticides and other chemicals cause autism, cancer, and other disorders and diseases. Dr. Philip Landrigan, known for his work in ensuring lead was banned from paint and gasoline in the 1970s, is heading the study.
We need to understand that people may be genetically susceptible to certain conditions, but they might live to the age of 90 with no problems as long as those susceptibilities are not triggered.
Is it normal for so many 40-year old women to get breast cancer? No.
We need to realize that pesticides, designed to kill pests, may just have an effect on infants and developing fetuses. We need to understand that coal emissions from China result in pollution in California, including mercury that goes into the ocean, accumulates in seafood, and gets into the food chain. We need to stop just doing what is profitable and convenient, and make sure that safety is a concern when putting new products on the market.
We need to treat cancer, but also prevent it and minimize the risk.