May 6, 2010

Group Warns On Multitude Of Cancer Risks

Presidential cancer advisers said on Thursday that Americans are being "bombarded" with chemicals, gases and radiation that can cause cancer, and the federal government must do far more to protect them, according to a recent Reuters report.

The panel said that although as many as two-thirds of cancer cases are because of lifestyle choices like smoking, many avoidable cancers were also caused by pollution, radon from the soil and medical imaging scans.

"The panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated," they wrote in the report.

The report has already delighted environmental groups, which have had hints for over a week of the report's content.

The American Cancer Society said the report downplayed known risks that cause the majority of cases of cancer such as tobacco, obesity, alcohol, infections, hormones and sunlight.

Dr. Michael Thun of the group said in a statement, "The report is most provocative when it restates hypotheses as if they were established facts."

"For example, its conclusion that 'the true burden of environmentally (pollution) induced cancer has been grossly underestimated' does not represent scientific consensus. Rather, it reflects one side of a scientific debate that has continued for almost 30 years."

Dr. LaSalle Leffall, a professor of surgery at Howard University College of Medicine in Washing, along with Margaret Kripke, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, are two sitting members of the panel.

This is the first time the panel has taken this direction into what had long been disputed territory - whether pollution, cell phones and even household objects like water bottles can cause cancer.

The report says, "The incidence of some cancers, including some most common among children, is increasing for unexplained reasons."  Cancer is the number 2 killer among Americans, after heart disease. 

It also said "With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread."

Kripke and Leffall wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama at the beginning of the report, "The American people -- even before they are born -- are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures."

"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 healthcare costs, cripple our nation's productivity, and devastate American lives."


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