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Shocking News: Chemicals Cause Cancer!

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Shocking News: Chemicals Cause Cancer!

Anyone who has paid attention to cancer rates and scientific studies dealing with the everyday toxins we are subjected to knows that, yes, many chemicals are bad for us. Bad, bad, bad. Cancer-causing bad.

The European Union legislates the use of chemicals on the precautionary principle–if there is any doubt about a substance’s safety, ban it until it is proven innocent. But in the United States we have taken the opposite approach–substances are legal until they are proven lethal, and with all of the lobbying in favor of toxic chemicals, many dangerous substances are allowed. Case in point: the EU has a ban on approximately 1,100 ingredients used in cosmetics, the US bans less than a dozen.

So what’s the shocking news? In an op-ed in The New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof writes about the President’s Cancer Panel, “the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream,” which released a landmark 200-page report warning that “our lackadaisical approach to regulation may have far-reaching consequences for our health.” Someone finally woke up and smelled the BPA.

The report blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary. Hello precautionary principle! The report notes that “only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” adding that “many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

I can already hear the loud, growling roar of the major chemical companies’ PR departments revving up their spin control–it’s not going to be pretty. But for now we have something yet to be seen, a government agency giving legitimacy to what many of us have long known: chemicals cause cancer.

Next: How to reduce the risk of cancer.

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

100 comments

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8:09AM PDT on Sep 26, 2010

yes, it may be hard (or "extremely hard to get", as you claim Emily) from just ONE product. The problem is really the fact that a woman, on average, can use 15-20 different products DAILY that each contain their own set of toxic chemicals. So, if you ADD all those up together, that's a heavily toxic body and you are more prone to diseases.

10:10PM PDT on Aug 21, 2010

All the ways of luxury and fast life today is the cause of cancer. Somehow, we dont seem to want to accept to give up any of them untill we are really hurt.

12:16PM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

what really worries me are agrochemicals and here where i live now, they throw them around like they were water. it drives me crazy that even people i consider smart still say "oh it is just a little weedkiller it won't last long, it breaks down in a short time"
do these people hear themselves, do they really believe it will just disapear.... yeah! into our bodies when it makes itself into our home with our shoes and finally sooner or later in our water... oh yeah then montsanto will clean that for us and charge and arm and a leg for it and take control not only of our food, but also the other most important thing for living beings....oh do we think wildlife creatures are going to buy clean water?
i have read that 50% of indiana's water is contaminated by agrochemicals.... costa rica is so much smaller....

9:44AM PDT on Aug 16, 2010

Thanks for the tips

11:22PM PDT on Aug 2, 2010

It' time to be wary of what we use, wear and eat in our own interest and in that of our precious planet.

3:06PM PDT on Jul 13, 2010

Yes, many chemicals can cause cancer but many of these chemicals are extremely hard to get cancer from. Just like it is hard to get AIDs from kissing somebody, even though saliva can spread the virus.

Don't get overly protective about these chemicals. A new study talks about how hair-dye can cause cancer, but it is extremely hard to get cancer from it, because you'd have to dye your hair 5x a day to expose you enough to get cancer.

1:25PM PDT on Jul 9, 2010

now, who would have thought, eh?

11:05PM PDT on Jun 30, 2010

Thanks for this article - it's amazing (not to mention frightening) how many things we have to look out for these days just to live a healthy, natural life!

1:46AM PDT on Jun 30, 2010

Thanks.

7:23PM PDT on Jun 28, 2010

I look for items that say BPA free. We reuse jars rather than plastic containers and use organic, non-toxic cleaners when hot water is not enough. The trick is to educate yourself and never stop reading... there are often nasty surprises around the corner. If something is good today and bad tomorrow, use your best judgment, keep researching and keep asking questions. We live in a chemical world and it is up to us to make the best of it.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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