x
Print This Post

President’s Panel Report: “Grievous harm not adequately addressed”

Released in early May, the US President’s Cancer Panel report called Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk, What We Can Do Now, finally stated what we’ve been saying all these years: “The true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated.”

The report noted that environmental carcinogens “do not represent a new front in the ongoing war on cancer” but, as the panel of three top US experts emphasized: “The grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the US National Cancer Program. The American people {Canadians too, we hasten to add} – even before they are born – are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures.”

American Cancer Society Push-Back
Among many others, New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristoff jumped on concerns expressed in the report immediately (New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer, May 6, 2010), but it wasn’t long before the American Cancer Society (ACS) pushed back, saying, in effect, Hey, wait a minute. Don’t forget that pollution and occupational hazards account for only about 6% of all cancers, while the majority are linked to smoking, obesity, alcohol consumption, and so on.

But, please take note: the ACS is still basing public statements and policy decisions on the nearly three-decades-old and now widely discredited 1981 study by the ‘two Richards’, Sir Richard Doll & Sir Richard Peto. That famous paper, The causes of cancer: quantitative estimates of avoidable risks of cancer in the United States today has since been ably deconstructed by many critics and scientists, including Dr. Devra Davis, author of The Secret History of the War on Cancer. The Doll & Peto controversy is well explained in a Health Beat Blog entry by Maggie Mahar – a useful critique. It is also fundamental for readers to know that Dr. Doll, a world-renowned epidemiologist, was finally ‘outed’ shortly after his death in 2005 as the covert recipient of generous funding from Monsanto, Dow Chemical and the American Chemical Council, to name just a few who may have skewed his judgment about the trivialities of environmental toxins. In this context, readers might also appreciate a reminder about Dr. Samuel Epstein, author of 1978 blockbuster, The Politics of Cancer (as well as a Revisited version in 1998), who for many decades has taken aim at what he calls The Cancer Establishment, including ACS, for its numerous conflicts of interest and other mortal sins, duly noted in this May 12 submission to The Huffington Post.

Useful Consumer Advice

As for useful advice for everyday consumers from the President’s Cancer Panel report, here are seven good tips:

1) Filter home tap water and do not store water in plastic bottles
2) Do not use plastic plates to heat food in a microwave oven
3) Eat food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers
4) Avoid processed, charred and well-done meats
5) Reduce cell phone usage
6) Reduce exposure to radiation from medical sources by discussing with healthcare providers whether medical tests or procedures (such as CT-scans) that use radiation are really necessary
7) Check home radon levels.

 
Also in this issue on An Ounce …