Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Karl Grossman.Investigative reporter
Posted: August 17, 2010 03:59 PM
The World Health Organization projects that this year cancer will become the world's leading cause of death. Why the epidemic of cancer? Death certificates in the United States show cancer as being the eighth leading cause of death in 1900.
Why has it skyrocketed to now surpass heart disease as number one?
Is it because people live longer and have to die of something? That's a factor, but not the prime reason as reflected by the jump in age-adjusted cancer being far above what could be expected from increased longevity. And it certainly doesn't explain the steep hike in childhood cancers. Is it lifestyle, diet and genetics, as we have often been told? They are factors, but not key reasons.
The cause of the cancer epidemic, as numerous studies have now documented, is largely environmental -- the result of toxic substances in the water we drink, the food we eat, the consumer products we use, the air we breathe. (Some of the pollution is voluntarily caused -- by smoking. But most is involuntary.)
As the President's Cancer Panel declared in May, in a 240-page report titled "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now," : "The American people -- even before they are born -- are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures." It said: "With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action."
It pointed to chemicals and radiation as major causes of cancer and stated: "Cancer continues to shatter and steal the lives of Americans. Approximately 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and about 21 percent will die from the cancer. The incidence of some cancers, including some most common among children, is increasing...The burgeoning number and complexity of known or suspected environmental carcinogens compel us to act to protect public health."
at 1:39 PM