“The environment of today is the proverbial mirror for human health. Our role is charged with reducing the unnecessary and preventable exposures that have taken on the everyday landscape in our own lives those known to have caused cancer and those we suspect to have caused cancer.” BILL COUZENS,FOUNDER LESSCANCER.ORG

POSTED BY BILL COUZENS,FOUNDER LESSCANCER.ORG
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Each school day 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer.

DEIRDRE IMUS

Losing Another Winnable War: “Yes We Can” Conquer Childhood Cancer
Posted February 15, 2008 | 11:37 AM (EST)

Read More: Cancer, Chemicals, Children And Cancer, Children’s Health, Chronic Diseases In Children, Exposure To Chemicals, Fooling Mother Nature, Health, Imus Ranch, International Childhood Cancer Day, National Cancer Act, Nixon War On Cancer, Secondhand Smoke, Smoking, Toxic, Toxic Chemicals, Toxic Chemicals And Children, Toxic Substance Control Act, Breaking Living News

If the mantra for the 2008 election is “change,” then let’s hope this includes a change in attitude and polices concerning childhood cancer.

February 15th is International Childhood Cancer Day, a day designated to raise awareness about childhood cancer. It is also a day when we reflect on the advances made and what steps need to be taken to eradicate this dreaded disease. Unfortunately, like other chronic diseases, there is not much to celebrate. This is because we have a fundamentally flawed philosophy about how to combat cancer that can be summed up in two words… irresponsible and reactionary.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a “war on cancer” and enacted the National Cancer Act. In spite of billions of dollars invested annually in scientific research over the past 36 years, cancer cures have failed to emerge.

Cancer statistics are on the rise and following the same trend we see with other children’s chronic diseases and developmental disorders. More than 7.6 million people worldwide die each year from cancer, 600,000 in the United States. This is equal to 20,000 deaths a day globally. Every year another 1.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S.

Each school day 46 kids are diagnosed with cancer. According to the most recently recorded data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cancer remains the leading cause of death among U.S. children ages 1 to 19 years, second only to accidents (2004). Approximately 13,425 children in this age group are diagnosed annually with pediatric cancer and about 2,250 children will die each year from the disease. While the prevalence of childhood cancer increased by 27.1 percent between 1975 and 2002, the death rates declined for leukemias by 3.0% and all other cancers combined by 1.3% per year, from1990 to 2004. We are doing a better at prolonging life, but not preventing the disease.

Tobacco smoke, including second hand smoke, is clearly one of the causes of several forms of cancer. According to the American Lung Association, ninety percent of all smokers begin before the age of 21. Currently, 28.4%, more than a quarter of all high school students, smoke cigarettes or cigars nationwide. It is estimated that approximately 6.4 million children using tobacco products, will eventually die prematurely from a smoking-related disease based on calculations by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. But non-smoking cancers are also occurring at proportionately higher rates. Since 1975, acute lymphocytic leukemia has increased 68.7%, brain and nervous system cancers in children is up 56.5%, and testicular cancer is up 66% in adolescents.

What is causing this disturbing increase in pediatric cancer and why are we losing what numerous scientists suggest is a winnable war on cancer?

Like many other chronic children’s diseases, science tells us that toxic chemicals used in our everyday environment are playing a significant role in the rise of childhood cancer. According to the International Agency for Research in Cancer, “…80-90 per cent of human cancer is determined environmentally and thus theoretically avoidable.”

Since World War II our environment has changed dramatically. The uncontrolled, development of untested, unregulated industrial chemicals has contaminated the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. Even children’s clothing can contain flame retardant chemicals that become just one more unnecessary toxic exposure that our children could do without.

Other carcinogenic chemicals found in our every day environment includes; arsenic used in wooden playground equipment and decking material, pesticides, ployaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) a pollutant from burning gasoline, polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (PBCD/F) a by-product of PVC production, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a Teflon chemical, identified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.

As early as 1987 research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found children exposed to pesticides in their own homes were three to six times more likely to develop leukemia. Additional studies suggest possible links between parental exposures to pesticides and other carcinogenic chemicals increases the risk of kidney and brain cancer in children.

In a ground-breaking collaborative study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Commonweal, tests were undertaken to examine industrial pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of 10 American babies born in 2004. The Body Burden – Pollution in Newborns study identified 287 chemicals in infant’s cord blood, 180 of which are carcinogens and known to cause cancer in both humans and animals. This study confirmed that before taking their first breath, babies are bombarded by a carcinogenic cocktail making them vulnerable to disease.

Today there is almost unanimous consensus among environmental health experts that small chemical exposures are linked to leukemia and other cancers. These experts also recognize the need for a paradigm shift regarding chemical regulation.

“The Faroes Statement: Human Health Effects of Developmental Exposure to Chemicals in Our Environment,” [PDF] published in Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology (2007), was authored by twenty-two researchers considered experts in the fields of environmental health, environmental chemistry, developmental biology, toxicology, epidemiology, nutrition and pediatrics. In the statement’s recommendations, the authors wrote, “The accumulated research evidence suggests that prevention efforts against toxic exposures to environmental chemicals should focus on protecting the embryo, foetus and small child as highly vulnerable populations. Given the ubiquitous exposure to many environmental chemicals, there needs to be renewed efforts to prevent harm. Healthier solutions should be researched and proposed in future work. Prevention should not await definitive evidence of causality when delays in decision-making would lead to the propagation of toxic exposure and their long-term harmful consequences. Current procedures, therefore, need to be revised to address the need to protect the most vulnerable life stages through greater use of precautionary approaches to exposure reduction.”

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