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OMG! Obama's Council Recos Mitigating Environmental Causes of Cancer

Posted May 07 2010 1:56pm
I never thought this would happen. The President's Cancer Panel, originally installed by President Nixon to kick off the War on Cancer, has released its first report blaming cancer on chemicals: Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk . I'm in shock. We are actually interested in prevention? Wasn't "science" busy trying to tell us all diseases are genetic? Are we not "looking for the cure" anymore?

Here I was thinking Obama's euphemism for prevention could be tidily summed up by the word "mammograms," which are about detection and not about prevention at all.

There is something interesting about the timing of this report. ObamaCare will make health care much more expensive for our government. Subsidizing uninsurables through private insurers is not as expensive as single payer healthcare would be, but it is enough incentive for the government to take its first true stand on prevention.

The executive summary contains paragraphs that read like a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG)
The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. [Editor's Note: Duh, that is the reason you are reading my blog!] 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. One such ubiquitous chemical, bisphenol A (BPA), is still found in many consumer products and remains unregulated in the United States, despite the growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.
While BPA has received considerable media coverage, the public remains unaware of many common environmental carcinogens such as naturally occurring radon and manufacturing and combustion by-products such as formaldehyde and benzene. Most also are unaware that children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults. Efforts to inform the public of such harmful exposures and how to prevent them must be increased. All levels of government, from federal to local, must work to protect every American from needless disease through rigorous regulation of environmental pollutants.
From BPA to pesticides to mercury to industrial chemicals to ionizing radiation, this report lists the cancers to which each exposure is linked and if the connection is strong or suspected.

The report even tags non-ionizing radiation as a suspect in cancer. I'm still in disbelief on that one, given all the vitriolic denial about cell phones and wifi being a hazard. Noting that the data are not all in yet, the action plan for cell phones includes this language
...cell phone users can reduce their exposure to radiofrequency energy by making fewer calls, reducing the length of calls, sending text messages instead of calling, using cell phones only when landline phones are unavailable, using a wired “hands-free” device so that the phone need not be held against the head, and refraining from keeping an active phone clipped to the belt or in a pocket.
In the action plan section, I found this nugget: "It is more effective to prevent disease than to treat it." Isn't that what this blog is all about? Is my job done? Probably not, but let me be excited about this step in the right direction, at least for a little while.

I'm curious to see how the government's action plan plays out and how much of the budget they will put behind cancer prevention. How will this play out at the USDA? The FDA? The CDC? The EPA? The DOE? Expect some big battles -- it's health versus wealth, and it's going to be ugly.

Many thanks to my friend Leslie who first sent me a link to this report. Girl, you are on it!
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