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Cancer focus must include environment, new group says

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http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2 ... event.html

Last Updated: Friday, May 4, 2007 | 4:45 PM ET

CBC News

The environment needs equal billing with drug therapies and stop-smoking campaigns to control cancer, a new national group said Friday.

Lobby group Prevent Cancer Now is made up of scientists, health providers and environmentalists who will hold their inaugural conference in Ottawa May 24-27.

Members are concerned that the link between cancer and the environment is ignored, said spokesperson Guy Dauncey.

"Why are we seeing an increase in cancer among young children? And why are we seeing that babies straight out of the womb are being born with over 200 industrial chemicals in their blood, some of which are known carcinogens?" Dauncey asked.

"We totally accept that smoking causes lung cancer and that lousy diet encourages cancer, and all those things. That's all correct. But there's a whole other side to the story that's not being told."

People may be exposed to toxic chemicals including carcinogens from tobacco smoke, alcohol, radiation from nuclear power plants and the sun, processed foods, some pharmaceutical drugs and medical X-rays, the group said.

Children at risk

Studies by the environmental watchdog group Environmental Defence in 2005 and 2006 found varying levels of contamination from heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic chemicals such as PCBs, mercury and lead in the blood and urine of Canadians.

In some cases, children had higher levels of contaminants than their parents.

In December, Statistics Canada announced a similar one-time biomonitoring study of 5,000 people. On Wednesday, the Commons environment committee said the study is not enough and called for ongoing research to establish trends on Canadians' chemical toxicity.

The goals of Prevent Cancer Now include:

Working to eliminate environmental or workplace hazards.

Educating Canadians about the dangers of cancer-causing substances and exposures, and what actions people can take to reduce or eliminate the hazards.

Improve legislation, standards, regulations and policies to protect the health of workers and others who are exposed to carcinogens.

Endorse implementation and use of the precautionary principle, which states it is better to be overly cautious than to create a potential risk.

From 1976 to 2001, the age-adjusted incidence of cancer among males increased by 27.7 per cent and the female rate increased by 17.8 per cent, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2006.

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