Cancer
337 Pages
English

Cancer

-

337 Pages
English

Description

Cancer -- the word strikes fear in people's hearts. With more people getting cancer every year, the big question must be: How can we prevent this epidemic?

Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic offers solid evidence that many cancers are preventable, since their causes lie with the contamination of our bodies by pollution from the air we breathe, the products we use, the water we drink, and the food we eat. It is not being caused by just diet, smoking, and the noon-day sun!

Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic takes a positive, solutions-based approach to this unwanted disease. Its pages are filled with practical advice and success stories that will inspire you to act to protect your family, your neighbors, your fellow workers, and future generations.

Each solution is laid out on two pages, with websites for follow-up.

It includes solutions for individuals, parents, youth, action groups,healthcare agencies, cities, labor, businesses, governments, andthe world as a whole.

It provides clear information about ways to prevent cancer, and should eliminate forever the mistaken belief that we don't know how to stop this terrible epidemic.

Nautilus Silver Award Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic will appeal to anyone whose life has been touched by cancer, and everyone who wants to stop it.


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Published 01 May 2007
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EAN13 9781550924978
Language English
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Advance Praise for
Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic
Any sane person will want to know the information set out in this highly readable,
powerful primer on how to stop the cancer epidemic engulfing us.
— Linda McQuaig, author and journalist
The authors of Cancer have taken up where most doctors, public health officials,
scientists, businesspeople and regulators have left off. They have assembled and digested
a vast array of information from a wide variety of sources, and turned it into a
“handbook” for arresting the tide of unnecessary, premature death from exposure to the
carcinogens we still produce in untold quantities. This book is wonderful tool for
enhancing your own health — and the health of our planetary home.
— Dr. Warren Bell, MD, from the Preface
Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic delivers on the promise of its title. It is a
well researched and comprehensive analysis of today's cancer epidemic. It's practical
recommendations are illustrated by encouraging examples of successful initiatives that
will surely inspire readers to action.
— Ruth Grier, former Minister of Environment and Minister of Health for Ontario,
current volunteer with the Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition and the
Provincial Cancer Prevention and Screening Council
One of most overlooked reasons for high cancer rates in North America is the continued
toleration of toxic substances in so many workplaces. Blue-collar workers, especially,
have been virtually expendable in numerous occupations and — if we want to end the
cancer epidemic — we must take action to stop this travesty. This is one of the few
books that fully grasps the links between workplace hazards and cancer, and suggests
many useful solutions to this sadly neglected problem.
— Jim Brophy, PhD, Executive Director,
Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers, Sarnia, OntarioDespite a large scientific literature documenting possible links between chemicals and
cancer, there has been insufficient effort made to put chemicals on the cancer agenda.
This important and comprehensive book with its focus on practical solutions will help
put environmental causes and solutions centre stage. Canada is taking a world lead in
this area and other countries including the UK need to replicate what is happening there.
— Jamie D. Page, The Cancer Prevention and Education Society
Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic puts key elements of environmental risk
and protective opportunities in a meaningful systems perspective. To learn about what
science has to say about how to strongly reduce the risk of getting cancer, and improve
on life-quality in general from doing so, should appeal to most readers who want to
learn from facts that are put in purposeful, tangible, and hopeful contexts.
— Karl-Henrik Robèrt, MD, PhD, Founder of The Natural Step International,
Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Product Development
at Blekinge Institute of Technology
In my 40+ years of activism, I have rarely seen a book filled with so much valuable
information that focuses on solutions and not just the difficult problems that confront
us. Bravo for Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic. With it, there are no more
excuses for not taking action.
— Dr. Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, MES, PhD, environmental health educator,
University of Toronto; principal research consultant and associate producer of
Exposure: Environmental Links to Breast Cancer (1997); executive producer,
Toxic Trespass, a film about children’s health and the environment (2007)NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERSCataloging in Publication Data:
A catalog record for this publication is available from the National Library of Canada.
Copyright © 2007 by Liz Armstrong, Guy Dauncey and Anne Wordsworth
All rights reserved.
Cover design by Diane McIntosh. Images: iStock
Printed in Canada.
First printing April 2007.
New Society Publishers acknowledges the support of the Government of Canada through the Book
Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) for our publishing activities.
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-86571-542-4
Inquiries regarding requests to reprint all or part of Cancer should be addressed to New Society
Publishers at the address below.
To order directly from the publishers, please call toll-free (North America) 1-800-567-6772, or order
online at www.newsociety.com
Any other inquiries can be directed by mail to:
New Society Publishers
P.O. Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC V0R 1X0, Canada
1-800-567-6772
New Society Publishers' missing is to publish books that contribute in fundamental ways to building
an ecologically sustainable and just society, and to do so with the least possible impact on the
environment, in a manner that models this vision. We are committed to doing this not just through
education, but through action. This book is one step toward ending globla deforestation and climate
change. It is printed on acid-free paper that is 100% post-consumer recycled (old-growth forest-free),
processed chlorine-free, and printed with vegetable-based, low-VOC inks, with covers produced using
Forest Stewardship Council-certified stock. Additionall, New Society purchases carbon offsets annually,
operating with a carbon-neutral footprint. For further information, or to browse our full list of books
and purchase securely, visit our website at newsociety.com
NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERS www.newsociety.comJEAN WEISMAN
o special friends, family members and others we “met” while working on thisT book who died too soon from cancer. “Statistics are people with the tears
washed off.” Thank you for being our inspiration.
Kal Hunt Betty Kang Danny Klancher Donna Penrice
Monika Michael Devin Grumetza Mandy Green Audre Lorde
Steven Mitchell Ethel Jarvis Georgiana Phelan Marlene Michaud
Ian McGibbon Danny Steinke Jr. Herbert Rickman Ray MattheyContents
Author’s Preface – Guy Dauncey......................x Cancer Hazards of Ionizing Radiation ...........50 s Preface – Liz Armstrong ..................xii Radiation and Nuclear Power.......................52
Author’s Preface – Anne Wordsworth ..........xiii The Cancerous Corporation.........................54
Acknowledgments ...........................................xv The Limits — and Corruption
Preface by Dr. Warren Bell, MD ....................xvi — of Science..............................................56
Foreword by Dr. Devra Davis .......................xvii Big Pharma and the War on Cancer ............58
Who Is Protecting Us?..................................60
PART ONE: THE GLOBAL EPIDEMIC What Are Cancer Charities and Hospitals
Introduction Doing to Prevent Cancer? ..........................62
The Global Cancer Crisis................................2 Prevent Cancer Now.....................................64
Our Body Burden............................................4
The Cost of Cancer.........................................6 PART TWO: 101 SOLUTIONS
What Causes Cancer? .....................................8 Ten Solutions for Individuals
What About Aging, 1. Open Your Eyes ........................................68
Genetics and Lifestyle? .............................10 2. Adopt Healthy Habits ..............................70
The Environmental Links.............................12 3. Avoid All Tobacco Smoke.........................72
Cancer in Children.......................................14 4. Eat a Healthy Diet....................................74
Cancer in Animals and Fish .........................16 5. Switch to Safe Personal Products.............76
Cancer: The Bigger Picture ...........................18 6. Live in a Healthy Home...........................78
Risk Assessment and the 7. Clean Your Home Safely ..........................80
Precautionary Principle.............................20 8. Treat Your Garden with TLC, Not 2,4-D...82
Changing the Cancer Paradigm...................22 9. Minimize your Exposure to Radiation.....84
It’s Not Just Cancer.......................................24 10. Make a Difference ....................................86
Prevention, Early Detection and Screening....26
Our Weakened Immunity.............................28 Five Solutions for Parents
The Chemical Deluge ...................................30 11. Create a Healthy Pregnancy.....................88
Gender Benders.............................................32 12. Create a Healthy Home for Your Baby ....90
Cancer Where You Work..............................34 13. Breastfeed Your Baby................................92ou Live................................36 14. Feed Your Kids Organic Whole Foods .....94
Cancer from Cars, Trucks and Buses............38 15. Take Action for Healthy Schools..............96
The Way We Farm ........................................40
The Food We Eat...........................................42 Five Solutions for Youth
Awash in Pesticides.......................................44 16. Keep Your Eyes Wide Open......................98
For Everyone’s Sake, Stop Smoking..............46 17. Don’t Be a Sucker to Big Tobacco:
Electromagnetic Radiation: Kick Butts! ..............................................100
We’re the Experiment ...............................4818. Be Careful of Everyday Products............102 44. Get Smart: Fight Poverty, Stop Sprawl...154
19. Make Your School Healthy.....................104 45. Work with Other Cities..........................156
20. Become an Activist.................................106
Five Solutions for Labor
Ten Solutions for Action Groups 46. Educate and Organize ............................158
21. Join the Activists ....................................108 47. Agitate and Compensate........................160
22. Form a Local Group ...............................110 48. Negotiate, Legislate and
23. Choose Your Priorities............................112 Enforce the Rules....................................162
24. Tackle a Local Challenge........................114 49. Go for Just Transition.............................164
25. Become a Research Wiz..........................116 50. Link up with Other Activists .................166
26. Plan a Winning Campaign ....................118
27. Work for Environmental Justice ............120 Fifteen Solutions for Business
28. Build Coalitions .....................................122 51. Become a Green Business.......................168
29. Create New Legislation ..........................124 52. Move to Sustainability ...........................170
30. Learn the Art of Advocacy .....................126 53. Reduce Your Emissions to Zero..............172
54. Embrace Green Chemistry.....................174
Five Solutions for Health Care 55. Phase out Toxic Chemicals in Products ..176
31. Champion Public Health and 56. Phase out Most Uses of Chlorine...........178
Environmental Justice............................128 57. Protect Your Workers..............................180
32. Promote Healthy Parenting 58.our Neighbors ..........................182
Before Conception and Birth.................130 59. Stop Sabotaging the Solutions ...............184
33. Ensure a Safe Childhood........................132 60. Solutions for Transport Companies.......186
34. Solutions for Cancer Agencies ...............134 61. Solutions for Power and
35. Practice Health Care Without Harm......136 Mining Companies ................................188
62. Solutions for Builders.............................190
Ten Solutions for Cities 63. Solutions for Farmers and
36. Create a Cancer Prevention the Food Industry...................................192
Action Plan.............................................138 64. Solutions for Supermarkets and Retailers .194
37. Become a Green Community ................140 65. Solutions for All Businesses ...................196
38. Clean the Air ..........................................142
39. Stop Incinerating Waste.........................144 Twenty Solutions for Governments
40. Grow Organic Food and Forests ............146 66. Build a National Cancer
41. Create Safe, Green Schools ....................148 Prevention Strategy................................198
42. Curb Electromagnetic Radiation............150 67. Adopt the Precautionary Principle ........200
43. Clean the Water and Sewage .................152 68. Expand Public Health Care....................20269. Control the Chemicals...........................204 Ten Global Solutions
70. Strengthen Your Regulatory Arm...........206 91. Fulfill the Dream of Sustainable
71. Tax Pollution, Instead of People............208 Global Governance ................................248
72. Reduce the Toxics...................................210 92. Show Global Leadership on
73. Let the People Know ..............................212 Cancer Prevention..................................250
74. Control the Corporations ......................214 93. Build Stronger Global Treaties ...............252
75. Revive Democracy..................................216 94. Eliminate All Hazardous
76. Green up Your Government ..................218 Chemicals by 2020.................................254
77. Encourage Education 95. Stop the Global Trade in
for a Sustainable World..........................220 Hazardous Wastes...................................256
78. Clean up the Toxic Sites ........................222 96. Ban Asbestos...........................................258
79. End the Use of Tobacco .........................224 97. Stop Ozone Depletion............................260
80. Promote Clean Production ....................226 98. Ban Depleted Uranium ..........................262
81. Promote Organic Food...........................228 99. A Solution for the World’s Religions .....264
82. Clear the Air: Promote 100. Heal the Earth’s Cancer..........................266
Sustainable Energy .................................230
83. Let the Waters Flow Clearly...................232 One Solution for All of Us
84. Stop Military Abuse 101. Don’t Sit This One Out..........................268
of the Environment ...............................234
85. Support the Global Movement..............236 Appendix 1:
IARC List of Cancer-Causing Agents,
Five Solutions for Developing Nations Mixtures and Exposures.........................270
86. Make Prevention Your #1 Strategy ........238 Appendix 2:
87. Stop the Tobacco Industry .....................240 Glossary ..................................................276
88. Clean the Air ..........................................242 Notes................................................................280
89. Support Organic Farming ......................244 Index ...............................................................305
90. Leapfrog over the Western Path ............246 About the Authors .........................................317Author’s Preface
by Guy Dauncey
came to write this book because I am pursuing cure is clearly important — but it is equallyIsomething larger called The Solutions Project, important prevent cancer before it starts.
animated by the understanding that in spite of The exciting news is that when we look with
the hopelessness many people feel about the an open mind at the many factors which we
state of the world, there are really only two know contribute to the causes of cancer, many
problems that we have to solve. solutions begin to appear.
The first is the total of all our social, health, Many of these solutions ask us to change the
environmental, economic, political and religious way we eat, live and work. They also ask us to
problems, which need not appear so numerous change the way we travel, farm, and generate
if we each become engaged in one small part of energy; the way we make things; the way we
the puzzle. The second is the belief that we can- regulate our industries; and the way we allow
not solve our problems. corporations to corrupt both governments and
If we succumb to this despairing belief, democracy.
whether regarding the break-up of our marriages, As well as reducing the epidemic of cancer,
the corruption of American democracy, or the however, and all the suffering it brings, these
way we are destroying our environment, we changes will also help us to build a peaceful,
become part of the problem. healthy, sustainable society. They make such
We can never achieve a goal if we believe eminent sense above and beyond the need to
deep down that it’s a hopeless quest, for one of stop the scourge of cancer. They will save us all
the keys to success is a firm belief in the possi- money as the health care costs of treating cancer
bility of success. That key, once turned, opens fall, and they will save companies money as they
up a wellspring of creativity, engagement and substitute less toxic ways of making things. It’s a
persistence that can deliver previously unimag- no-brainer. Why would we not want to do this?
inable results, and inspire us to further action. As our children learn about this world they
Success also needs sound understanding, live in, they are increasingly looking at us with
working examples, and solid information. The concern in their eyes.
Solutions Project therefore takes our problems “What kind of a world are you handing over
one at a time and gathers the best examples of to us?” they ask us. “What did you do to tackle
success, laying them out so that readers can find these problems, and make our world a better
reason to believe and the courage to get place?”
involved. If we tackle these problems, this will be our
So why cancer? legacy. They will say of us:
Because it is such an enormous problem “Your actions gave us hope.”
that is in dire need of a solution — a permanent There are many who have helped us with
solution built around prevention. To work for a this project, who we thank collectively below.
x CANCERI especially want to thank my co-authors, Liz staying up all night to read it. Gardeners, take
Armstrong and Anne Wordsworth, without note! (www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath)
whose skill, encouragement and persistence this Finally, I want to thank the silent,
miracuproject would never have been completed. With lous spirit of life that inspires me to take on my
support from others, Liz and I also founded a various projects, supports me in all that I do,
Canadian non-profit society, Prevent Cancer and fills me with gratefulness for this life, this
Now, which we hope all our Canadian readers beautiful world, and all the possibilities that we
will join (www.preventcancernow.ca). US read- hold in our hands.
ers can find similar encouragement in the
Collaborative for Health and the Environment — Guy Dauncey, December 2006
(www.healthandenvironment.org), and British
readers in the Cancer Prevention and Education
Society (www.cancerpreventionsociety.org). • The Solutions Project www.earthfuture.com
All three of us — Liz Anne and I — want to
� Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate
thank Judith and Chris Plant, our publishers, Change by Guy Dauncey with Patrick Mazza (New
Judith Brand and Ingrid Witwoet, our eagle-eyed Society Publishers 2001).
editors, and the whole team at New Society
� Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror
Publishers for your deep commitment to a more and War by Mary-Wynne Ashford with Guy
just, sustainable world. Dauncey (New Society Publishers 2006)
I want to thank Carolyn Herriot, my wife and
� Building an Ark: 101 Solutions to Animal Suffering
partner of 17 years, for her support and
encourby Ethan Smith with Guy Dauncey (New Society
agement while I engage in my various projects. Publishers 2007)
During the years while I was working on Cancer
� A Room Somewhere: 101 Solutions to Homelessness
she too became an author with A Year on the
(coming soon)
Garden Path: A 52-Week Guide to Organic
� The Great Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to
Gardening (Earthfuture/New Society Publishers)
Global Warming by Guy Dauncey (coming soon)
which won her the ultimate accolade when her
readers said they enjoyed it so much they were
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC xiAuthor’s Preface
by Liz Armstrong
am writing this on January 5, 2007, the day could be a book in itself — we have deliberatelyIafter our beautiful friend Donna Penrice died chosen not to tackle several issues. There is
following an anguishing struggle with leukemia. nothing about the possible role of stress and
This creative, caring, witty, wonderful woman emotions, or alternative and complementary
did not want to die at age 63. All of us who cancer treatments, or special diets or vitamin
loved her did not want her to die either, therapies. Yes, these and other topics are
imporalthough those last unsettled days before the tant, but we want our readers to focus on the
morphine eased her gently out of this world opportunities most overlooked in the big picture
made us pray the end would come quickly. — occupational and environmental links to
The love will never die. cancer.
Most people believe the cancer epidemic In many ways, this is very much a work in
now upon us is simply impossible to rein in and progress. Every day a flood of new information
stop. We know this is not true, and through the surfaces on the environmental health front.
101 Solutions format so cleverly fashioned by Much of it is discouraging, but there are usually
Guy, we are able to share scores — in fact, many some victories to celebrate. As authors of Cancer:
hundreds — of practical ways each of us can 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic, here’s our
take action for cancer prevention on our own, stand: that copies of this book gets so thumbed
and with others — and it’s all under one book and underlined and bookmarked and used by so
cover. many people that they become a vital part of
We are not cancer experts, but Anne, Guy the tipping point that ends the cancer epidemic.
and I have all focused on scientific data and Huge thanks to many wonderful friends and
trends long enough to observe that cancer is family members who have cheered this project
clearly connected to the larger world of environ- on over the past four years — especially to Linda
mental health. Nature’s gifts of pure air, water, Rosier, for her relentlessly positive outlook and
soil and food are indispensable life supports, and encouragement, and to Zorro the dog, who
prowe need to hold up our end of the bargain by vides daily lessons in the fine art of total
restoring their integrity. As Jane Houlihan of the relaxation (and not taking oneself too seriously)
Environmental Working Group said, “Babies as he gently snores at his post next to my
aren’t supposed to be born pre-polluted.” We computer.
have it in our hands to cleanse our toxic world
— not just for kids, but for all life on Earth. — Liz Armstrong, January 2007
While there is a great deal of cancer
prevention information in this book — each segment
xii CANCERAuthor’s Preface
by Anne Wordsworth
n Earth Day 1970, my best friend, Kat What I am doing about it, and what manyOMcCarthy, conscripted me to educate teach- others I know are doing about it, is this —
ers about garbage and our wasteful society. I had demanding that carcinogens be removed from
no idea about it, but I learned quickly and our daily life. How surprising can it be that
canremember pulling Styrofoam cups out of a green cer is on the rise when for 50 years we have
garbage bag and talking about biodegradability. accepted shampoos, pans, foods, building
mateLittle did I know that, from that day on, I would rials and packaging made of materials of
be involved in a lifelong engagement with envi- questionable safety. Sadly, the more things we
ronmental and health issues. In fact, I have buy, use and stuff into our houses, the higher
come at it from almost every angle — first, as an the levels of toxins around us and the higher
activist calling on government to do the envi- our overall risk. If there’s anything people
ronmental right thing, then as an advocacy should take away from this book, I think it is to
journalist trying to inspire television viewers simplify and detoxify your life. It is the best
and, finally, for one glorious moment, working chance for a healthy and happy future. And
in the Environment Ministry itself. once your own house is in order, help your
comIt became clear to me a long time ago that munity refocus on respecting and restoring the
environmental and occupational problems were local environment. Then, send the message up
directly and intimately linked with our health. It to the next level of government. It’s an awesome
isn’t possible to poison waterways, the air, fish task, but it’s one that becomes inevitable once
and the other living beings with which we share you know what the stakes are. Like my job on
the planet without it ricocheting back on our- that first Earth Day, I didn’t really choose to be
selves. I’ve always called it my “chickens come concerned about the environment and our
home to roost” theory. It seems obvious that health but once I did it for Kat, I just had to
cancer, autism, learning disorders, asthma and keep doing it.
other chronic illnesses are, if not rooted, at least
connected to the environmental and occupa- — Anne Wordsworth, January 2007
tional contaminants to which we are all
exposed. I think almost everyone at some
fundamental level knows this now, and the question
is what can we do about it.
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC xiiiAcknowledgments
s authors of this book, we would like to Lynn, Joe Mangano, Elizabeth May, Janet May,Athank the many people who have helped us Janet McNeill, Loretta Michaud, Brian Milani,
along the way. For their advice, ideas, and cri- Katrina Miller, Sarah Miller, Joe Odie, Jamie
tiquing of the manuscript, we would like to Page, Ian Panton, Michael Perley, Leo Petrilli ,
thank Devra Lee Davis, PhD, Director of the Gerry Potter, Barbara Reid, Angela Rickman,
Centre for Environmental Oncology at the Karl-Henrik Robert, Karen Robinson, Anne
University of Pittsburgh Center Institute; Rochon Ford, Cheryl Rook, Sara Rosenthal,
Maryann Donovan, PhD, Scientific Director at Nicola Ross, Norm Rubin, Patricia
Runningthe same; and Dr Peter Carter, MD, past Horan, Cindy Sage, Brian Schaeffer, Janette
President of Canadian Association of Physicians Sherman, Sandra Steingraber, Elisabeth Sterken,
for the Environment. Larry Stoffman, Laura Telford, Beverley Thorpe,
And for their many and various contribu- Joel Tickner, Joan Vincent, Cathy Walker, Laura
tions, we would like to thank the following. Our Weinberg, Rich Whate, Mark Winfield, Marilyn
appreciation is immense, and the responsibility Wolfe and Miriam Wyman.
for any errors or omissions is entirely ours: Rita We thank the families of the people included
Arditti, Mary-Wynne Ashford, Mary Bachran, on the Dedication page for permission to use
Jen Baker, Thomas Bierma, Judy Brady, Warren their photos.
Bell, Dave Bennett, Madeleine Bird, Jim Brophy,
Mae Burrows, Moni Campbell, Morag Carter, We would also like to thank all those who
Theo Colborn Kathleen Cooper, Sylvain De encouraged us while we worked on the book,
Guise, Karen DeKoning, Fe DeLeon, Lissa knowing how important this work is. To quote
Donner, Vern Edwards, Donna Ell, Suzanne the Roman author, lawyer and statesman Cicero:
Elston, Nancy Evans, Marian Feinberg, Helke
Ferrie, Robert Ferrie, David Gerratt, Michael Salus populi suprema est lex
Gilbertson, Dorothy Goldin Rosenberg, Tim The welfare of the people is the highest law
Grant, William Grant, Ruth Grier, Magda Havas,
Mandy Hawes, Genevieve Howe, Rhonda For our modern context, we need to add:
Hustler, Molly Jacobs, Sat Dharam Kaur,
Margaret Keith, Marjorie Lamb, Elizabeth Lamb, Salus mondi suprema est lex
Sue Larsh, Michael Lerner, Rick Lindgren, Helen The welfare of the planet is the highest law
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC xvPreface
by Warren Bell
et me tell you why this book is important And that’s why this book is important andLand valuable. valuable.
When I completed my family medicine resi- The authors of Cancer: 101 Solutions to a
dency at McGill in 1976, there was a final exam. Preventable Epidemic have taken up where most
It included interviews with simulated patients. doctors, public health officials, scientists,
busiOne such person was a woman in her fifties who, nesspeople and regulators have left off. They
I was told, had just been confirmed to have ter- have assembled and digested a vast array of
minal cancer. It was my task to tell her this fact. information from a wide variety of sources, and
It was an emotional encounter. I had already turned it into a “handbook” for arresting the
completed an elective in palliative care, and was tide of unnecessary, premature death from
exponot at all uncomfortable talking about death. sure to the carcinogens we still produce in
But the woman — even though she was simply untold quantities. They have laid out, for every
an actress playing a role — somehow connected reader, a series of practical steps to prevent
expodeeply to the experience of having cancer and sure, reduce risk, and ultimately restore Planet
being close to death. Afterwards, she wept, and Earth.
told me about the overwhelmingly sense of loss In this well-organized volume, you will find
she had felt while we were speaking. a road map out of the morass of what oncologist
Over the decades, I have had many encoun- Karl-Henrik Robert, founder of The Natural
ters with people with terminal cancer. Death is Step, has called “molecular garbage”.
not the problem — every dawn is followed by a This book is wonderful tool for enhancing
sunset. But premature, preventable disease and your own health – and the health of our
planedeath — that’s another matter. When I meet tary home.
someone sick with a cancer that could clearly
have been prevented, I feel a sense of disquiet, — Dr. Warren Bell, M.D.
and even frustration. In particular, I am deeply Family physician. President of Medical Staff
concerned about the rising toll of cancer that and Active Staff member,
comes from involuntary exposures to carcinogens. Shuswap Lake General Hospital.
While many cancers are caused by personal President of the Association of
behaviours (e.g. smoking) or “bad genes” (about Complementary and Integrative Physicians
5% of breast and bowel cancer), there are a of BC. Past Founding President,
rapidly growing number that are caused by man- Canadian Association of Physicians
made contaminants in the environment. for the Environment (CAPE).
Exposure to them is leading to steadily rising
cancer rates, especially in children.
xvi CANCERForeword
by Devra Davis
’m a cancer orphan. Both my parents died The Canadian Cancer Society has spoken outIfrom the disease that now affects almost one against the use of ‘cosmetic’ pesticides and adopted
out of every two men and more than one in the precautionary principle. California has
proevery three women in North America today. duced a major report on Green Chemistry,
I know what cancer looks and feels like. I linking the health impacts of toxic chemicals to
have also come to know that much of the disease the urgent need to develop a new approach.
could have been prevented, if only we had paid Massachusetts has shown the way with toxics
attention to what some people have been warn- use reduction legislation that has helped hundreds
ing for years. of companies not just to clean up their act, but
In this book, Liz Armstrong, Guy Dauncey and to prosper financially. Sweden has made a
comAnne Wordsworth turn the dominant paradigm mitment to phase out all hazardous chemicals
about cancer upside down. In North America, by 2020. President Jacques Chirac has called for
for years, the debate on the environmental causes candidates for the French national presidency to
of cancer has been whether there is sufficient make public declarations of their intent to
proof to declare that any given substance causes reduce the environmental burden on cancer.
our cancers. Risks are generally assessed one sub- This book sends an urgent wake-up call. It
stance at a time, and only a small percentage of exposes some troubling episodes in public health
the hazardous substances that are part and par- where people have been denied the fundamental
cel of our daily lives are tested. Obscure models human right to know about the dangers that exist
using animals exposed to these substances are in their everyday world, and it provides copious
used to estimate their likely impact on humans. evidence of policies, practices and principles
The authors show us that this approach has that offer us the possibility of a far safer,
healthnot worked. They confirm the tragic and contin- ier world, if we are willing to embrace them.
uing saga of individuals, workers and Some may be challenged by the passion of
communities whose continuing exposure to the this book. Some may be uncomfortable with its
risks of cancer has endangered their lives and tone, but no one can dispute the solid grounds
those of their families, and killed far too many on which it rests.
humans — and other living creatures. — Devra Davis, Ph.D., MPH
The world is changing, and Canadians are at Director of the Center for Environmental
the center in two major roles. Prompted by Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer
engaged citizens, the provincial governments of Institute, and Professor, Department of
Alberta, Quebec and Ontario have begun efforts Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health.
to get rid of cancerous agents, and businesses are Author of When Smoke Ran Like Water (Basic
emerging to create greener, more efficient and Books, 2002) and The Secret History of the War on
less polluting products of all kinds. Cancer (Basic Books, Fall 2007).
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC xviiDREAMSTIME.COM
Part I
The Global Epidemic
Beauty discarded, or beauty found?
It is time to start pursuing alternative paths. From
the right to know and the duty to inquire follows
the obligation to act.
— Sandra Steingraber
1INTRODUCTION
The most determined effort should be made
to eliminate those carcinogens that now
contaminate our food, our water supplies andThe Global Cancer Crisis
our atmosphere, because these provide the most
dangerous type of contact — minute exposures,
1repeated over and over throughout the years.
— Rachel Carson
e first saw it pinned on the sweater of a five. In 2007 cancer strikes nearly one in twoWbreast cancer survivor in Boston — a males and over a third of all females, and one
small, round, pink button with just four words in four will die. Cancer recently overtook heart
printed in black type: “Rachel Carson was disease as the leading cause of death in both
2right.” the US and Canada and is head and shoulders
For most people under 50, the button begs above the rest in the category “potential years
two questions: who is Rachel Carson, and why of life lost.”
was she right? Is cancer primarily connected to aging?
According to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2006,
1. Rachel Carson was a marine biologist, and 43% of all new cancer cases and 60% of deaths
author of three best-selling books about the 6occur in people 70 years and older. As more of
3mystery and magic of life in the oceans. us live longer, the total burden of cancer in
Her final book, Silent Spring, published in Canada and the US will grow accordingly. But
1962, was a major departure, a scrupulously some of the increases have nothing to do with
researched exposé about the health hazards age; more people in all age groups are
developof modern pesticides and nuclear radiation. 7ing certain types of cancer than in the past.
Cancer was a prominent theme. The incidence rates of breast, prostate, brain,
2. Rachel Carson died from breast cancer in non-Hodgkins lymphoma, thyroid, melanoma
1964. Because she identified man-made and multiple myeloma are continuing to climb,
chemicals and radiation as major causes of while only a few, such as stomach cancer in
cancer and other illnesses, she became the both men and women, lung cancer in men and
target of a fierce industry campaign to cervical cancer in women are declining. Several
destroy her reputation and credibility. escalating cancers have clear links to
environ8In Silent Spring she issued this clarion call: mental hazards.
To prevent cancer, we must rid society of In Canada from 1975 to 2000, the
age-stan4man-made substances causing the disease. dardized incidence of cancer among females
increased by 19.5% (from 290.2 to 346.5 per
In 1964 Wilhelm Heuper and W.C. Conway 100,000 population) and among males by 29.2%
of the National Cancer Institute described cancer (from 357.7 to 462.0 per 100,000 population).
as “an epidemic in slow motion” and predicted The increase is higher for men and lower for
a future catastrophe resulting from “reckless” women when lung cancer is excluded, as
5chemical contamination. Canadian smoking rates dropped for males and
9All three were right. rose for females.
In the early 1960s cancer struck one of every In the US cancer incidence in children under
four Americans and Canadians and killed one in 15 years of age climbed 27% between 1975 and
2 CANCERHARRIS & EWING, COURTESY OF THE LEAR/CARSON COLLECTION, CONNECTICUT COLLEGE
INTRODUCTION
102002, . Worrisome increases are also evident processed food stripped of its protective
nutri11among young adults aged 20 to 44. ents and loaded with additives; and by an
In 1998 the National Cancer Institute and assault on our immune systems by toxic
the American Cancer Society claimed with some substances.
relief that the rates of many common cancers The latest science is proving that Rachel
had stabilized during the 1990s and were finally Carson was right about this, too.
on the decline. But in a 2002 research paper,
NCI’s scientists reported that the apparent
downturns were due to a delay in reporting new
cases. Once corrected, the data showed that
breast cancer was still rising by 0.6% a year,
melanoma in white men by 4.1% a year and
that prostate cancer in black men was 14%
12higher in 1998 than originally reported.
Worldwide the burden of cancer is rising.
In 2002 there were 10.9 million new cases and
6.7 million deaths. Lung cancer led the way,
followed by breast and colorectal cancer. The
World Health Organization has warned that this
will rise by 50% to 15 million new cases a year
by 2020 unless major public health and
preven13tion programs are aggressively pursued.
The most common cancers in developed
countries are of the colon and rectum, breast,
prostate, brain, nervous system and testes. In
developing countries, cancers of the liver,
stom14ach and esophagus are more common. As
developing nations adopt Western ways of life,
the rates of many of “our” cancers are
increasing, including lung cancer, caused by an Born in 1907, Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring,
explosion in the number of smokers. died from breast cancer at age 56 in 1964. “There is
This brings us to our book’s main theme: the so much more I want to do,” she wrote her closest
cancer epidemic is being fueled by carcinogens friend in November 1963, “and it is hard to accept
in our air, water and food; by poor-quality that in all probability, I must leave most of it undone.”
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC 3INTRODUCTION
If ever we had proof that our nation’s
pollution laws aren’t working, it’s reading
the list of industrial chemicals in the Our Body Burden
bodies of babies who have not yet lived
outside the womb.
— Congresswoman Louise Slaughter
ur bodies are truly amazing. The fact that It is very disturbing, therefore, to learn thatOyou are alive today means you have inher- our bodies are being contaminated with a
burited an unbroken chain of being that stretches den of toxic chemicals. In 2003 the Mount Sinai
right back to the first single-celled organisms, School of Medicine in New York conducted a
4,000 million years ago — that’s 4 billion years. study with the Environmental Working Group
Your body contains between 50 and 75 tril- (EWG) in which nine healthy volunteers, none
lion cells, and each cellular nucleus contains up of whom worked with chemicals, had their
2to 25,000 genes. You breathe in and out 23,000 blood and urine tested. They found 167
industimes a day from the same air that was breathed trial chemicals, including:
by the dinosaurs, and your body is 60% water,
� 76 chemicals linked to cancer in humans
from the same ever-recycling water that is
or animals (average 53 per person)
1shared by every being in the world.
� 94 chemicals that are toxic to the brainWhen you consider this amazing complexity,
and nervous system (average 62)it is remarkable how healthy most of us are.
� 86 chemicals that interfere with the When your body receives the nutrients it needs,
hormone system (average 58)breathes clean air, drinks pure water and gets the
exercise needed to keep your oxygen pumping � 79 chemicals associated with birth defects
and your muscles fit, it should last a hundred or abnormal development (average 55)
years. � 77 chemicals that are toxic to the
reproductive system (average 55)
� 77 chemicals that are toxic to the immune
system (average 53)
The chemicals came from everyday things
such as adhesives, pesticides, food additives,
fireretardants, hair sprays, perfumes, lubricants,
brake fluid, varnishes, paints, dyes and cleaning
products. A Canadian study came up with
simi3lar results, as did a European study including 47
4Members of the EU Parliament from 17 nations.
When the EWG examined the breast milk of
20 nursing mothers, it found levels of
brominated fire-retardants (PDBEs) from furniture
foam, computers and televisions that were 75
times higher than the average found in recent
4 CANCER
INDEX OPENINTRODUCTION
� Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns:
www.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2
� California’s Body Burden Campaign: www.calbbc.org
� CDC National Report on Human Exposure to
Environmental Chemicals: www.cdc.gov/exposurereport
� Chemical Body Burden: www.chemicalbodyburden.org
� Environmental Defence Canada: www.ToxicNation.ca
European studies. The PDBEs accumulate in the
� Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.orgfood chain and human tissues and adversely
5 � WWF: www.worldwildlife.org/toxicsaffect brain development and the thyroid.
In 2004 when they looked at the umbilical
cord blood of ten newborn babies, they found
that 287 chemicals had passed through their industry not to interfere have combined to allow
6mothers’ placentas, averaging 230 contaminants. over 100,000 novel chemicals to be used, most
The US Centers for Disease Control is also of which have never been examined for their
monitoring environmental chemicals in our health impacts (see p. 30). When chemicals are
bodies. In 2005, as well as finding similar results studied, they are almost never studied in
combito the other studies, they found that children nation with other chemicals, and rarely at the
had higher levels than adults for residues from minute levels of contamination that can
undersecond-hand smoke, for some pesticides and for mine the body’s exquisitely sensitive hormonal
chemicals such as phthalates that leach from systems.
plastics. We should be outraged that this is being
The good news is that they observed a steep allowed. Hazardous substances linked to cancer
decline in lead in the children’s blood, following and other health problems are being found in
regulations to remove it from gasoline and the tissue of almost every living creature on
paint, and in second-hand smoke residues, fol- Earth, and it is up to us to do something to stop
lowing smoking bans. The bad news is that this toxic trespass.
these studies do not include the effects of
ionizing radiation, a known carcinogen that is adding For too long, policy-makers have
retroto our body burden. spectively pleaded, “if only we had
When the chemicals are not removed, how- known earlier what we know now.” I
ever, they often contribute to cancer. In 2003 a believe that what we do know now must
Belgian study found that women with breast guide us in our review and approval
cancer were 5 times more likely than healthy processes, and should become the basis
women to have residues of the pesticide DDT in of a bold new precautionary approach
7their blood. In 2006 a US study found that men that puts the burden of evidence on
whose bodies were contaminated with PCB 153 safety first.
were 30 times more likely to have prostate
— Dr. Roberto Bertollini,
8cancer than those who were not contaminated.
World Health Organization
Why is this being allowed? A lack of
regulatory oversight and constant pressure from
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC 5INTRODUCTION
There is just no way to control the cost.
The manufacturers have zero incentive to
reduce their prices. The Cost of Cancer
— Tom Baker, drug-cost expert
1with Zitter Group, San Francisco
The Personal Cost costs $6,500 to $9,000 a year. Herceptin, which
irst, there’s the emotional cost. Most of us fear increases the survival for certain breast cancer
3Fdying. We are afraid that we will not live to patients by five months, costs $22,500 a year.
see our children get married, or our grandchildren The cost of these drugs can be two to five times
grow up. We dread the anguish of watching help- higher in the US than in Canada.
lessly as a small child or teenager dies from cancer.
Then there’s the pain: the nausea and vomit- Going Bankrupt for Cancer
ing that are experienced by 70% to 80% of those Who can afford this? In America only 27% of
who receive chemotherapy, and 70% to 90% of the population is covered by government health
those who go through radiation. And the care programs — Medicare for the elderly and
fatigue, hair-loss, blood disorders and bone pain Medicaid for those with very low incomes.
that often accompany cancer treatments, in Thirty-five million Americans have private
spite of a fall in the incidence of side effects, and health insurance that comes with restrictions, high
their treatment. deductibles and caps. You think your insurance
We celebrate the survivors of cancer — as we will cover your treatment, until you discover the
should — but we must never forget those who cost of chemotherapy may reach $6,000 a day
lose the most precious gift of all, whose loved but your plan only allows for $1,000. There are
ones are left weeping and bereft. Look around other costs, too, such as the loss of income
you. One in four of the people you see will die when you take time off for sickness, or to look
from cancer. On average each one loses 15 pre- after a spouse or child, and the need for
transcious years of life that could have been filled port, daycare and home health care. Even with
with love, adventure, family and music. the much touted US drug benefits, people
needing cancer treatment will still have to pay more
The Financial Cost than $1,500 a year out of their own pocket.
People with cancer live longer today than in the A quarter of all Americans cannot afford the
past, but the cost of treatments has risen enor- cost of cancer. For many the only solution is
mously. In 1994 doctors could extend the life of bankruptcy. A study in 2005 by the Harvard
a patient for a year by using a combination of Medical School found that illness and medical
drugs worth $500 in today’s dollars. By 2004 bills contributed to half of all bankruptcy filings,
they could extend a life by almost two years, but representing two million Americans a year, a
2the cost had escalated to $250,000. 2,200% increase since 1981. Three quarters had
The wholesale price for Avastin, a colon medical insurance at the start of their illness,
cancer drug that extends patients’ lives by five but illness led to job loss and the loss of
insurmonths, is $46,000 a year. Tarceva, a lung cancer ance. In 2001 Americans with cancer had
4drug that increases survival by two months, average medical debts of $35,878.
6 CANCERSUMEET WADHWA DREAMSTIME.COM
INTRODUCTION
Whichever way US citizens are covered, the
cost of cancer is huge, and a financial collapse of
the system is a real possibility. For the 48
mil5lion Americans — including 9 million children
— who are not covered at all — a single health
crisis may spell disaster.
In Canada, the public health care system pays
for the cost of treatment, which is an enormous
blessing, but once a drug has been approved by
the federal government, if a province does not
approve of its use, or if a doctor fails to do the
necessary paperwork, cancer patients either have
to go without or pay for it themselves, creating a
6two-tiered system for rich and poor. The Terry Fox statue in Victoria, BC. In 1977, Terry
Fox ran 3,107 miles across Canada in The Marathon
Where Will This Lead? of Hope, to raise funds for cancer research. He was
In 1990 the direct cost of cancer treatment to the forced to stop when his own osteosarcoma cancer
US health care system was $35 billion, representing spread to his lungs. He died on June 28, 1981, aged
710% of national health expenditures. By 2003 it 22. By 2007, the annual Terry Fox Run had raised
had risen to $64 billion, representing 20% of more than $400 million. www.terryfoxrun.org.
8expenditures. The total cost of cancer, including
financial losses from premature death and reduced similar to diabetes. To some drug companies, it is
10productivity, was over $171 billion. In Canada a “vast healthcare and commercial opportunity.”
9the total cost of cancer in 1998 was $14 billion. Regarding the social and economic costs of
With survival rates rising, there is expected cancer — the work days lost, the agonies of
famto be a 50% increase in the number of people ilies torn apart by illness — the true costs are
living with cancer by 2015, leading to a vast incalculable but could well run to nearly half a
new demand for drugs and treatments. trillion dollars in the US.
To the drug companies, this represents an
enormous opportunity. In 2005 the worldwide Prevention: The Only Answer
cost of cancer drugs was estimated at $24 billion, There is only one possible way out of this mess.
of which $15 billion was spent in the US. If effec- We have to stop cancer at its source by focusing
tive cancer drugs emerge, the market could reach on eliminating the preventable carcinogens from
$300 billion by 2025 as pharmaceutical companies our lives and by maximizing our natural abilities
seek to make cancer a chronic, controllable illness to fight cancer.
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC 7INTRODUCTION
Scientific research has made it clear that
preventable environmental and
occupational exposures are fueling excess cancersWhat Causes Cancer?
1cases and deaths.
— Richard Clapp
ancer is a general term for over 200 similar Then there is diet. Our bodies evolved on aCdiseases that are characterized by a process diet of healthy plants that develop natural
disof abnormal, uncontrolled cell division. Cancers ease-fighting compounds when attacked by
evolve through a complicated web of multiple fungi or pests. When modern farming sprays
2causes that interact with each other. crops with pesticides and fungicides, the plants
Most cancers begin when something damages are no longer exposed, so they no longer
genera healthy cell, followed by further injuries that ate these compounds.
accumulate over time. It might be exposure to one There are also genetic traits that make some
of the 69 carcinogens in cigarette smoke, to ion- people more susceptible to cancer than others.
izing radiation, to one of over 80,000 modern A study of children’s leukemia in Quebec showed
chemicals that are used in products and pro- that the cancer risk was higher in children who
cesses, or to a natural carcinogen such as arsenic. carried a certain genetic mutation, who had also
3The injuries may damage the DNA strands been exposed to pesticides in the womb.
that govern reproduction, causing genes to These factors accumulate, and some
subbecome deranged, natural repair mechanisms to stances only become carcinogenic in the
fail and cancerous cells to multiply out of con- presence of others. The evidence seems to show
trol. Some pollutants also damage the immune that most cancers have a multi-factorial origin.
system, rendering it less able to protect us.
Cancers can start without damage to the The Conventional Response
DNA. When a toxic substance mimics human The conventional explanation focuses almost
hormones, as some pesticides, plastics and phar- exclusively on the role of tobacco, alcohol, poor
maceuticals do (see p. 32), it can fool the body’s diet, lack of exercise, exposure to the sun,
infecendocrine system by latching onto receptors tious agents and drugs. It also says that cancer is
that are meant for natural hormones, unleashing increasing because we live longer, even though
a cascade of mistaken outcomes including can- close to 60% of new cancers appear in people
4cers of the breast, prostate and testicle. under 70. The danger from novel chemicals and
There is also an epigenetic factor. The radiation is minimized.
epigenome is the chemical and physical code Conventional prevention programs urge us to
that governs a gene sequence, acting as a mes- stop smoking, eat more fruits and vegetables and
senger between the genes and their so on. This is good advice, but it is very limited.
environment. When it encounters a novel Why? Here’s your principal clue: Doll and Peto.
chemical, it can wrongly tell a tumor suppressor Sir Richard Doll was a British scientist of
gene to turn itself off. There is evidence that high renown who, with Richard Peto, laid out
damage to a mother’s or father’s epigenome may his assessment of the causes of deaths from
can5trigger cancer in the next generation. cer in 1981, followed by similar reports by the
8 CANCERLISA F. YOUNG DREAMSTIME.COM
INTRODUCTION
6Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention in 1996 In summary, Doll and Peto’s work should no
7and again by Doll in 1998. longer be used as an explanation of the causes of
In their 1981 analysis, Doll and Peto con- cancer.
cluded that no more than 2% to 4% of cancers In 2006 it was disclosed that Doll had a
were caused by occupational exposure, and 1% long-term financial relationship between 1970
to 5% by pollution. The rest were attributed to and 1990 with Monsanto. While he was
reviewtobacco, diet, solar UV, infections and lack of ing the cancer risks of vinyl chloride, dioxin and
exercise. By 2004 their work had been cited in phenoxy herbicides, he received payments from
441 scientific articles and had become the foun- the American Chemical Council and the
chemi9dation for the conventional “lifestyle” cal companies ICI and Dow. He (and Green
explanation of the causes of cancer. College, Oxford, that he founded) also received
Doll and Peto’s analysis was very limited, payments from the asbestos industry and
10however. They looked only at deaths, not the General Motors.
incidence of cancer. In their analysis of
occupational cancers, they excluded anyone over 65
due to the non-availability of systematically
collected data, even though more than 70% of
cancers were occurring after 65. They excluded
African-Americans, who were more likely than
whites to work in dirtier, dustier workplaces, and
they ignored the steady increase in cancer
among children and young people. They paid
no attention to cancer vulnerability
pre-conceptually, in the womb or during puberty. Their
work, based chiefly on epidemiologic evidence,
ignored animal and other laboratory studies that
would have demonstrated likely harm, and did
not address the multi-factorial manner in which
8carcinogens and other risk factors combine.
As a result, they seriously underestimated the
role of environmental pollution. They based
their 1981 research on just 16 known
carcinogens, whereas in 2006 the International Agency
for Research on Cancer listed 414 known or
suspected carcinogens. (See Appendix 1)
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC 9INTRODUCTION
The number of people getting cancer is
wrong. Our failure to do better
fighting this disease is wrong. I just thinkWhat About Aging, Genetics
we need to be wiser about the world
1we are creating.and Lifestyle?
— Wendy Mesley
ancer is primarily a disease of the Still when we take away the age-adjustment“C elderly.” factor, the cancer situation becomes more
chillWe’ve heard this statement from cancer ing at this time in history. The explosion we’re
agencies for so long that we rarely question it. experiencing is definitely more pronounced
But let’s look again. According to the 2006 because the average North American is older
edition of Canadian Cancer Statistics, 57% of the now than 20 years ago. The baby boomers —
153,100 new cancer cases are predicted to occur that enormous batch of infants born between
in Canadians less than 69 years old, not in the 1946 and 1964 and now moving through
midelderly population. We know from the age- dle age — will soon reach Prime Cancer Time.
adjusted statistics — which take into account Even the Canadian Cancer Control Strategy
shifting ratios of young to old in our population calls what lies ahead a “looming cancer
catastroover time — that more Canadians and Americans phe.” Over the next three decades, almost 6
in every age group are diagnosed with cancer million Canadians will get some type of cancer,
than decades ago. with more than 38 million “potential years of
2life lost.”
Yes, there are more cancers as we age. Of all
new diagnoses, 25% occur in the 60 to 69 age
group; less than 1% of cancers affect kids aged
320 and younger. But age does not “cause”
cancer. It is environmental factors such as smoking,
toxic chemicals, radiation, infections and empty
junk food, often in combination with “internal”
factors such as inherited genes and immune
4deficiencies, that cause cancer.
What about genetics? The number of
hereditary cancers, passed via damaged genes from our
parents, is very small. “About 5% to 10% of all
cancers are strongly hereditary,” … the American
Cancer Society explains. “However, most cancers
do not result from inherited genes, but rather are
the result of damage (mutations) to genes that
5It’s important for cancer prevention to adopt and keep good occurs during one’s lifetime.” We all vary in our
personal habits, but our Western ‘lifestyle’ is more than the genetic susceptibility to cancer: that’s a fact of life.
sum of diet, smoking, drinking alcohol, exercise and avoiding And then there’s “lifestyle.” Wendy Mesley,
the midday sun. co-host of the CBC television show Marketplace,
10 CANCER
ROB MARMION, DREAMSTIME.COMINTRODUCTION
� American Cancer Statistics: www.cancer.org
� Canadian Cancer Statistics: www.cancer.ca
� The Green Guide: www.thegreenguide.com
� Green Living, The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly
on the Earth: www.emagazine.com
said she thought she was doing everything right
according to the Canadian Cancer Society’s
guidelines. “Don’t smoke. Eat your veggies. for breakfast in a Teflon-coated pan, burn the
Exercise. Stay out of the sun.” Like many toast a little but eat it anyway (PAHs,
acryCanadians, she did all these things and was still lamide), heat coffee made from city tap water
diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Her docu- (chlorine by-products, trace toxins). Drive to the
mentary “Chasing the Cancer Answer” chose to office in the brand new car (plastics and glues
focus on “what else” in our lives might cause off-gassing formaldehyde) in heavy traffic (diesel
cancer. It attracted a record audience and was particulates, benzene). Turn on the computer
subsequently aired many more times in Spring and copier (EMFs, cadmium), breathe copious
62006. amounts of indoor office air (too many
chemiWhat is this thing called “lifestyle”? As cals to list). Eat lunch with fatty foods that are
defined by cancer agencies, lifestyle is about non-organic (deprived of antioxidants). Keep
smoking, diet, exercise, alcohol and avoiding hydrated with water from polycarbonate plastic
the midday sun. Yet we are all children of a bottles (bisphenol-A). Home again at 6 pm to
toxic industrial age, and how we live is more relax with glass of red wine (pesticide residues)
than the sum of personal habits. and a scented candle (too many chemicals to
A typical “day in the life” might unfold name). Poach some farmed salmon (mercury
something like this: and PCBs); serve with non-organic spinach,
7 am: Shut off the alarm on the clock radio potatoes, sweet bell peppers and celery (veggies
7(exposure to electromagnetic fields). Hit the syn- most likely to be contaminated with pesticides).
thetic carpet (too many off-gassing chemicals to Go to sleep on a mattress made with
petrochem8list) running. Take a shower in hot chlorinated icals and flame retardants.
water (chloroform, etc.) using an anti-bacterial Yes, of course, it’s important to cultivate
body wash (triclosan). Apply several personal good personal habits, but — at the same time —
care products including underarm deodorant/ let’s acknowledge that “lifestyle” is way more
antiperspirant (parabens), lipstick (coal tar dyes) than diet, smoking, alcohol, physical exercise
and blusher (main ingredient, talc, possibly con- and staying out of the sun. Transforming the
taminated with asbestos). Step into a freshly toxic lives we lead is an exciting challenge —
dry-cleaned (perchlorethylene), perma-pressed and unquestionably possible.
(formaldehyde-finished) business suit. Fry eggs
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC 11ALEJANDRO RIVERA, DREAMSTIME.COM
INTRODUCTION
For most people, cancer comes not
from preprogrammed genes, butThe Environmental Links from conditions and exposures that
are encountered throughout their
life.
— Devra Lee Davis
or years the traditional analysis alterations before it succeeds in overwhelmingFof the causes of cancer has played the body’s defenses and producing cancerous
down or ignored environmental cells. At any one of these stages, multiple factors
factors. This is convenient, since it are involved, any or all of which may need
means we do not have to make external carcinogens to promote the cancer.
troublesome changes to the way we We need to remember that it took almost 50
live, eat and run our society. years for society to accept that smoking caused
The reality is very different, with lung cancer and to bring in anti-smoking rules.
Permanent dark a growing understanding that can- The evidence was clear in 1950, when several
hair dyes: one of cer is tragically connected to different studies in England and America were
the most suspected environmental pollution. published showing that lung cancer patients
causes of cancer. Some of the known environ- smoked, while those without the disease did so
mental causes of cancer are shown rarely.
in the chart opposite, drawn from a detailed sur- In 1958 a Harley Street physician objected to
vey of scientific studies done for the the Medical Research Council’s link between
Collaborative on Health and the Environment in smoking and cancer as “a staggering and most
2005. For every reference (pesticides linked to unscientific claim … They will be blaming
1brain cancer, solvents linked to cancer of the mother’s milk next.” The tobacco industry paid
kidney), there is a peer-reviewed study of a number of highly respected scientists in
humans that reflects careful scientific work. America, England and elsewhere to confuse us,
It is wrong to assert that “1% to 5% of cancers delaying for five decades the measures needed to
are caused by pollution,” as epidemiologists Doll discourage and prevent smoking. During that
and Peto did in 1981 and the Harvard Center for time, 5 million people died prematurely in
2Cancer Prevention did in 1996. Cancer is a com- North America from smoking.
plex disease that involves at least six different Today we are seeing the same resistance to
environmental pollution and radiation as
contributing causes of cancer. We cannot afford to� Breast Cancer Environmental Risk Factors:
wait another 50 years. www.envirocancer.cornell.edu
It is not necessary to propose a hierarchy, or� CHE Toxicant and Disease Database:
play one component off against another.http://database.healthandenvironment.org
Preventing carcinogenic exposures wherever pos-� Collaborative on Health and the Environment:
sible should be the goal, and comprehensivewww.healthandenvironment.org
cancer prevention programs should aim to reduce� Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer:
exposures from all avoidable sources, includingwww.sustainableproduction.org/pres.shtml
environmental and occupational sources.
12 CANCERINTRODUCTION
3Cancer of the: Pollutants that are known to be contributing factors:
Bladder Arsenic in drinking water, chlorination by-products, solvents (e.g., among dry-cleaning workers),
hair dyes, petrochemicals, coal tars, metalworking fluids, ionizing radiation
Bone Ionizing radiation from X-rays, CT scans, nuclear exposure, medical experiments
Brain & nervous Solvents, paints, inks, ionizing radiation, low-frequency non-ionizing EMF
system radiation, pesticides, maternal consumption of cured meats during pregnancy (N-nitriso)
Breast Ionizing radiation; endocrine disruptors that mimic the actions of estrogens, found in many
pesticides, fuels, plastics, detergents and prescription drugs, the drug diethylstilbestrol (DES),
solvents (e.g., among electronics, metals, furniture, printing, chemical, textiles and clothing
industries workers), pesticides, benzene, and more
Cervix Solvents (e.g., dry cleaners)
Colon Limited and inconsistent evidence: ionizing radiation, chlorination by-products
Esophagusy cleaners and dye-house workers), metalworking fluids and oils
Kidney Solvents (e.g., trichloroethylene TCE), pesticides, metals
Larynx Metalworking fluids, asbestos, wood dust, reactive chemicals
Leukemia Solvents, benzene, reactive chemicals, ionizing radiation (e.g., diagnostic X-rays during
pregnancy), pesticides (including while pregnant)
Liver Metals (especially arsenic), solvents, ionizing radiation, reactive chemicals, PCBs
Lymph (Hodgkin’s Solvents, pesticides, hair dyes
& Non-Hodgkin’s)
Lung Tobacco smoke, environmental (second-hand) tobacco smoke, outdoor air pollution, indoor air
pollution, petrochemical by-products, metalworking fluid, natural fibers (silica, wood dust,
asbestos, mineral fibers), radon
Mesothelioma Asbestos
Multiple myeloma Solvents, ionizing radiation, pesticides, occupational exposure to hair dyes
Nasal & Pharynx Solvents, reactive chemicals, metalworking fluids, ionizing radiation
Ovary Pesticides, ionizing radiation, talc powder, products used by hairdressers and beauticians
Pancreas Solvents, metals (cadmium, nickel), reactive chemicals, pesticides, metalworking fluids, mineral
oils
Prostate Pesticides, endocrine disrupting chemicals such as Bisphenol-A, metallic dusts, metalworking
fluids, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), fuel combustion products, aromatic amines (from
cooked red meat), metals
Rectum Solvents, chlorination by-products, metalworking fluids, mineral oils
Soft Tissue Metals, reactive chemicals, ionizing radiation, pesticides
Skin Ionizing radiation (UV radiation), metals, metalworking fluids, mineral oils, creosotes, coal tars
Stomach Metals (e.g., lead), ionizing radiation, pesticides, metalworking fluids, mineral oils, asbestos
Testes Endocrine disrupting chemicals, PCBs, especially in the womb, work in agriculture, tanning,
mechanical painting, mining, plastics and metalworking industries
Thyroid Ionizing radiation (nuclear fallout, medical X-rays, workers at nuclear facilities)
Dr. Richard Clapp, et al., Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer
101 SOLUTIONS TO A PREVENTABLE EPIDEMIC 13INTRODUCTION
Babies aren’t supposed to be born pre-polluted. Cancer in Children
— Jane Houlihan, Environmental Working Group
5t’s a sure sign that something is very wrong since the 1950s as treatments have improved, thisIwhen children get cancer. Some infants are is little comfort if a child you know has cancer.
even born with the disease. Why is this happening? There are some
As Sandra Steingraber wrote in her landmark strong environmental clues:
book, Living Downstream, children don’t smoke,
� The human embryo is especially vulnerable
1drink or hold stressful jobs. And yet in Europe
to chemicals. Recent data from hormone
dis2and the US from the 1970s to the 1990s there
ruptor pioneer Theo Colborn indicates that
was a steady 1% annual rise in childhood
canseveral adult and childhood cancers are
pro3cers, and a slightly smaller rise in Canada. There
grammed before birth, making the fetal
were 9,500 new cases in the US in 2005, repre- 6origins of cancer a troubling new frontier.
senting 15 children per 100,000.
� The developing fetus is also more susceptibleThe main childhood cancers are leukemias,
to DNA damage from vehicle pollution andwhich are cancers of the blood (30% of the total),
second-hand smoke than its mother, despiteand cancers of the brain and nervous system
7the protection of the placenta. One study4(21%).
concluded that the children of fathers whoWhile the number of children with cancer
worked with benzene or alcohols in industryhas stabilized or fallen since the 1990s, and the
prior to conception are nearly six times morenumber of children dying has been cut by half
8likely to develop leukemia.
� The average newborn has 230 industrial
chemicals in its blood at birth, 180 of which
are known to cause cancer in humans or
ani9mals. That’s surely not a healthy way to
start life on Earth.
� Children are also exposed to chemicals in
breast milk from consumer products such as
plastics and carpets and from the air, water
and food, many of which disrupt biological
processes. The US Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) says infants and young
children are ten times more vulnerable to
cancer-causing substances than adults
because they live longer after the time of
exposure and they eat, drink and breathe
10more than adults relative to their weight.
14 CANCER
CHRIS POLLACK, ISTOCKPHOTO