Groundbreaking Government Report Says Chemicals Cause Cancer

by

In an alarming report released last week, the President’s Cancer Panel confirmed what many public health activists have been saying for years: Toxic chemicals in the air, water and in our food are literally killing us.

The advisory panel, which is affiliated with the National Institutes of Health, says that Americans are facing “grievous harm” from unregulated toxic chemicals in the environment.

About 1.5 million Americans were diagnosed with and 562,000 died of the disease in 2009 alone. According to the report, “the incidence of some cancers, including some most common among children, is increasing for unexplained reasons,” and exposure to chemical toxins may be to blame.

The 240-page report admonishes the U.S. government for taking a reactionary, rather than precautionary, approach to dealing with chemical threats, and calls for a new national strategy focused on minimizing the negative impact of such chemicals on human health. Under the current regulatory system, the government does not act until there is proof that a chemical is harmful, which means that Americans are exposed to many chemicals whose safety hasn’t yet been definitively established.

The report’s authors said in a letter to President Obama prefacing the report:

“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.”

Many public health activists see the publication of this government report as a breakthrough for the environmental and organic movements in the U.S. They consider huge step in the right direction — one which will hopefully lead to a more precautionary approach to regulation of chemical use by the food, pharmaceutical and other industries. However, the report has drawn criticism from some who say that it portrays the risk of environmental hazards in an alarmist fashion. The American Cancer Society released an online reaction which criticized the report for being “unbalanced” and potentially even doing a disservice to the public by diverting attention from modifiable lifestyle risk factors, like and .

The panel says that while more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of exposure to toxic chemicals, they firmly believe that the “true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated.” And, they strongly urge individuals to take precautionary measures to minimize exposure to toxins while we wait for more research to be done and new policy enacted.

Here is some of the advice the report offers:

  • Buy antibiotic and hormone-free meats, and avoid processed, charred and well-done meats.
  • Store water and food in containers that are free of BPA and phthalates, and don’t microwave food in plastic containers.
  • Filter your drinking water.
  • Avoid using products that contain potentially hazardous chemicals in your home. (You can look up the potential hazards of such items in the Household Products Database.)
  • If you are exposed to chemicals while you are on the job, remove your shoes when you enter your home, and wash your work clothes separately from other laundry.
  • Check the radon levels in your home. (Radon is a natural source of radiation which has been linked to cancer.)

Sources include:

http://wellness.blogs.time.com/2010/05/06/presidents-panel-analyzes-environmental-cancer-impact

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/opinion/06kristof.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-gordon/cancer-panel-warning-babi_b_569291.html

Never miss out on valuable information. Subscribe to our newsletter today!



Leave a Comment Below


35 responses to “Groundbreaking Government Report Says Chemicals Cause Cancer”

  1. Lynn says:

    Wow I can't believe that this report has drawn so much criticism. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    I read just the other day that California has approved a chemical called methyl iodide, which is known to cause cancer, for use as a pesticide on strawberries. This is disturbing news… You always read that berries are one of the foods that you should always buy organic, and this news sure makes that seem like really good advice.

    Here's a link to the article I read: http://food.change.org/blog/view/california_app…

    • casieLee says:

      Wow, thanks Lynn! I just posted this to the Stop Aging Now facebook wall because that is certainly something to share with our readers. With California being a state to usually lead others in a direction of more sustainable food and environmentally friendly practices, it's a shame that methyl iodide would get approved.

    • BethF says:

      So disturbing!

      I do try to buy organic, but sometimes it's just not always possible.

      I have been using a product called Environne Fruit & Vegetable Wash for a good 6-7 years. Before eating any fruits or veggies, I wash them off using this product (it's really easy to use…just pour a little on the fruit and then wash your fruit and veggies off as you normally would).

      Environne removes pesticide, fungicide and herbicide residues, waxes and oils. So if you can't always buy organic, using a product like this definitely helps keeps the food we eat safe, or safer, than just rinsing with regular water.

      I have always found Environne at Trader Joes. Whole Foods sometimes has it, but they often just carry the spray (which I am not a fan of…I like the one that you pour on).

      Anyhow, if you are interested in the product, here's their website http://www.vegiwash.com/

      • CasieT says:

        Thats awesome, Ive been meaning to try that. I get so torn because I want to buy organic but when I do I feel like the fruits go bad in 1 day. I need to adopt the European approach maybe and shop for F & Vs every other day but its nice to know theres at lease one alternative to spoiled fruit.

        • BethF says:

          I love the stuff. It really does wash off the dirt and wax on the non-organic fruits and veggies. And it has no smell or taste, which is great. Totally try it!

  2. Sue says:

    I think the best thing to do is protect yourself. We need to be knowledgeable about the products we use and the things we put into our bodies. I don’t think the government, in the condition it is in right now, with the deficit growing leaps and bounds each day is going to have the money to put programs into place that help protect consumers from dangerous chemicals. I think the suggestions in this article are great. And, the Household Products Database link (http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/) you provided is loaded with great information. I know I will be referring to it often.

    • Bob Greene says:

      Deficit or no deficit, poisons in our environment represent a clear and present danger unlike any terrorist attack could accomplish.

      Safe food and water must be made a priority by properly regulating industry– the source (both admitted and widely documented) of most of it.

      With economic recovery, deficits will become more manageable, but delay already has made the environmental toxic burden almost unmanageable.

  3. BethF says:

    There has also been a lot of talk recently about parabens and how they too can cause cancer….and they are in so many of our skin care products.

    I know there are different types of parabens, and think some are more dangerous than others, but I'm not exactly sure.

    Which are the parabens we should definitely avoid? Are all of them harmful?

    • Mina says:

      That's a good question, and one that I think a lot of people wonder about. As I understand it, all types of parabens (methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl) have endocrine-disrupting effects, and should be avoided. Parabens mimic estrogen in the body, and can interfere with your body´s endocrine system, disrupting your body's delicate balance of hormones, and leading to a wide range of potential health problems.

      There are also some environmental concerns associated with our excessive use of parabens as a society. The EPA has expressed concern they may be accumulating in our waters and affecting the ecosystem.

      Look an article next week on the dangers of parabens and other chemicals to watch out for in personal care products.

      • Lissa says:

        It's unfortunate so many of our beauty products contain parabens and other toxic substances. They are cheaper to purchase monetarily, but the cost health wise may not be worth it. The great thing today is being able to purchase products that are free of toxins. They may cost more, but definitely less regarding our health.

        I think it's great we are becoming more aware and informed about what we should put on our skin. It will be great if at some point, sooner rather than later, more companies phase out using toxic substances.

    • valeriegitelson says:

      That is so disturbing.. we think we are doing good by protecting our skin when in all realty we could be harming ourselves…

  4. galemaleskey says:

    Hurray to the government for finally doing this! It can take years of exposure before the cancer, neurological damage or or chronic disease from exposure to environmental chemicals becomes apparent. That's one reason it's been difficult to confirm the harmful effects. Besides avoiding these chemicals as best we can, we can shield ourselves from their effects with the right nutrients.

    • Mina says:

      I'm glad you brought that up, Gale! Antioxidant-rich foods and supplements like green tea, curcumin and alpha lipoic acid (among others) can offer significant protection from the effects of the toxins in the air, etc. that are impossible to avoid completely.

  5. […] and considering that the President’s Cancer Panel has just released a report warning that exposure to chemical toxins can cause cancer. (Note: The California Department of Pesticide Regulation is accepting comments on this decision […]

  6. […] Many raw ingredients, whether they have been found to be effective in clinical studies or not, are used in skin care and beauty products as preservatives or fillers. If you are like most people, you probably assume that the ingredients found in the products you put on your face and body have been thoroughly tested for safety before they make it on to store shelves.  But as more studies are done, we are learning that many “inactive” ingredients actually have harmful effects within the body. […]

  7. […] cost. He says that organic produce and other food items offer increased nutrient content, reduced exposure to dangerous chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, and GMO-free fruits and veggies — all significant benefits in […]

  8. […] after the President’s Cancer Panel released a groundbreaking report stating that unregulated environmental chemicals increase risk for cancer. This study is believed to be the first report published in a scientific journal to link use of […]

  9. […] Source: Meeker, JD et al. Environmental Science and Technology; 2010 Feb 15;44(4):1458-63. Editor’s Note: BPA has been making big headlines this week. A group of 60 scientists from health and environmental organizations around the world has issued an open letter to the European Food Safety Authority, which is currently reviewing BPA’s safety, calling for stricter regulation of the chemical. The letter cites the myriad of scientific studies which demonstrate the hazards of BPA exposure. […]

  10. […] Here’s a healthier dessert recipe that makes good use of carotenoid-rich fresh summer peaches. Like other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, peaches are a good source of the carotenoids, lutein and lycopene. They help protect your vision and heart. It’s best to buy organic or pesticide-free peaches, since they, like other thin-skinned fruits, tend to absorb any chemicals they may be sprayed with. […]

  11. […] Over 60,000 new chemicals have been introduced to our food in the past 65 years. By that fact alone, it is easy to see how much our food supply has changed in a relatively short period of time. In addition to this, we have the problem of soil depletion to deal with. Modern industrial farming methods strip our land of the vital minerals and nutrients that make food medicine. […]

  12. […] evolved to eat a diet packed with nutrients in a natural state and live in an environment free of pollutants and man-made toxins. Research now shows that a diet high in vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of death from all […]

  13. […] remain “plastic” and able to function at optimal capacity. Years of dietary abuse and exposure to toxic household and environmental chemicals can cause brain stress, inflammation and insulin resistance — all of which are known to […]

  14. […] to him, the EPA has known for years that some of the materials used in conventional dentistry pose risks to both the dentist and the patient. But he said there has been enormous pressure from the higher […]

  15. […] health activists have been saying for years: Toxic chemicals in the air, water and in our food are literally killing us. The report said that Americans are facing “grievous harm” from unregulated toxic chemicals in […]

  16. […] The quality of the water you drink has an enormous impact on your health. Here in the U.S., we are fortunate enough to have effective sanitation systems that keep our water free of disease-causing microorganisms. Yet accumulating evidence shows that our drinking water is becoming more and more likely to cause disease, due to increasing levels of chemical pollution. […]

  17. […] acid (PFOA), a chemical used in non-stick PTFE coatings, to countless health problems including cancer, infertility, thyroid problems and ADHD in […]

  18. […] consumers for pristine, unblemished flowers encourages growers to use incredibly high levels of toxic chemicals in the growing process. As a result, flower farm workers are exposed to high levels of carcinogens, […]

  19. […] written a lot recently about the increasing levels of chemical pollution threatening our drinking water supply. A few months ago, we posted an article from the Alliance for […]

  20. […] Summer is prime time for fresh fruits and vegetables. Centering your diet around the cooling, juicy, crunchy high-water-content plant foods, many of which are available direct from the farm, is a great way to stay healthy, hydrated and balanced during the warm Summer months. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that those fruits and vegetables are not loaded with toxic chemicals. […]

  21. […] It’s become crystal clear in recent years that environmental toxins are jeopardizing not only our health right now, but our long-term health as well. Worse yet, the people most impacted by environmental toxins are infants and children, whose young bodies are most vulnerable to toxicity and who are powerless to protect themselves. In fact, a government advisory panel affiliated with NIH recently concluded that Americans are facing “grievous harm” from unregulated toxic chemicals. […]

  22. […] U.S. government has acknowledged that toxic chemicals in our air, water and food are harming our health, yet many of these chemicals remain unregulated. And unfortunately, even when the government bans a […]

  23. […] cancers was due to various factors such as radiation exposure, lack of exercise and occupational exposure to harmful chemicals, along with sunlight exposure and certain […]

  24. […] the President’s Cancer Panel confirms that toxic chemicals in the air, water and in our food are literally killing us. The report said that Americans are facing “grievous harm” from unregulated toxic chemicals in […]

  25. […] Defence, a Canadian organization that strives to inspire change by raising awareness about harmful chemicals and practices, recently released a great video to shed light on the use of dangerous and toxic ingredients in […]

  26. […] to believe, the levels of chemical toxins that Americans are exposed to on a daily basis does some serious damage to our health. Research has linked exposure to toxins to a host of health problems, including cancer, liver and […]