Posted on Wed, 12 May 10
This is the verdict of a recent panel on environmental chemicals and cancer risk. The panel, appointed by the US presidency has heavily criticised the US National Cancer Program for not adequately addressing this issue.
Call for action
In an open letter to president Obama the reports panel chair and panellist wrote that "The grievous harm from this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The Panel urges you most strongly 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."
Environmental pollutants have been, and continue to be released into our environment without adequate safety testing; furthermore mixtures of these chemicals have poorly understood effects in the body. Some examples of common sources of pollutants includes industrial chemicals used in plastics, food packaging, food additives, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics in meat and poultry, household cleaning agents, cosmetics, electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones, as well as air pollution from cigarette smoke and motor vehicles.
What you can do
In addition to urging change in policy and industry the panel also made recommendations on how you can reduce your cancer risk.
- Parents should realize that children may be particularly sensitive to environmental carcinogens. Parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize a child's exposure to toxins.
- Both parents should avoid exposure to chemicals prior to a child's conception and throughout pregnancy.
Reducing chemical exposures:
- Remove shoes before entering the house.
- Wash work clothes separately from the rest of the family laundry.
- Filter home tap or well water. Prefer filtered water to commercially bottled water.
- Store and carry water in stainless steel, glass, or BPA- and phthalate-free containers.
- Microwave food in ceramic or glass containers instead of plastic.
- Try to choose foods grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
- Eat free-range meat raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, or exposure to toxic runoff from livestock feed lots.
- Properly dispose of medications, household chemicals, paints, and other toxic materials that can contaminate the water or soil.
- Turn off lights and electrical devices when not in use.
- Drive fuel-efficient cars; find alternatives to driving.
- Quit smoking and eliminate secondhand smoke in the home, car, and public places.
Cut exposure to electromagnetic energy by wearing a headset when using a cell phone, texting instead of calling, and keeping calls brief.
- Periodically check home radon levels.
- Reduce exposure to medical imaging devices by discussing the need for medical tests with health care providers.
- Avoid overexposure to UV light by wearing protective clothing and sunscreen when outside, and by avoiding sun exposure when sunlight is most intense.
1. DeNoon, DJ. Environmental Cancer Risk 'Grossly Underestimated'? WebMD Health News. 2010.
2. Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now," President's Cancer Panel, 2008-2009 Annual Report.