Cancer ... conquered or conqueror?
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Environmental Toxicity

" Environmental Toxicity is one of the most important areas of cancer causation and cancer prevention and it is yet to receive adequate recognition from the cancer research establishment," Dr Epstein notes. " Neither the National Cancer Institute or the American Cancer Society have ever given scientific testimony before congress or any regulatory agency on the importance of avoiding exposure to toxic chemicals. This, despite significant evidence that environmental carcinogens in the home and the workplace are one of the primary causes of cancer.

" We have more than enough scientific information on the relationship between environmental and occupational toxins and increasing cancer rates. The problems are economic and political. Industry, with it's powerful lobby, has moved heaven and earth to prevent increased emphasis on the phase-out of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the air, water, food, and the workplace, " says Dr Epstein.

For example, while researchers have continued to promote the link between fat intake and cancer, especially breast cancer, the have steadfastly chosen to ignore the fact that adipose ( fatty ) tissue is the chief repository for chemical toxins such as pesticides absorbed by the body. " In all the studies on fat consumption funded by the NCI, none have even bothered to consider this issue ", Dr Epstein notes, " Even though, as far back as 1968, independant researchers had already found evidence of a link between elevated pesticide concentrations in adipose tissues and cases of carcinoma. "

Additionally, in 1976, a research team at the Department of Occupational Health at Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School in Jerusalem completed a study of women with breast cancer that compared cancerous breast tissues with heealthy breast tissue from the same woman. What the study found was significant in that the concentration of toxic chemicals, including pesticides such as DDT, and industrial chemicals such as PCB's, was " much incresaed in the malignant tissue when compared to the normal breast and adjacent adipose tissue. "

In 1978, following public outcry and threatened legal actions, Israel banned many of the chemicals cited in the 1976 study, resulting in a significant decrease in the level of toxic chemicals found in breast milk. Over the next decade the rate of breast cancer mortality also declined sharply, with a more than thirty percent drop in deaths among Israeli women under forty four years old, and a drop of eight percent overall. This, in spite of the fact that every other known risk factor for breast cancer, such as alcohol consumption, fat intake, lack of fruit and vegetables in the diet, and the age women give birth for the first time, increased dramatically. The only answer researchers could come up with to account for this stunning drop in cancer rate, was the greatly reduced level of environmental toxicity. During this same period, the rate of breast cancer deaths worldwide rose by an overall rate of four percent.

Subsequently, independant researchers in the United States, supported with a grant from the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, conducted a similar study. Their findings verified that high concentrations of PCB's and other common toxins found in drinking water and household products exist in the breasts of women with cancer. But these same chemical concentrations were not found in the breasts of women with only fibroid cysts or benign tumors.

One of the main problems with environmental toxicity is that the chemicals associated with cancer can be found almost anywhere, including in our hair, our water, our workplaces, and our homes.

Even chemicals such as DDT, which have been banned from use for years, still show up in the environment today. These chemicals are very durable and do not break down easily. Their residues can stay in the soil or water for years, to be passed on indefinitely through the food chain as they go from soil or water to plant to animal to human consumption.

The use of home and garden pesticides is another major source of toxicity and has been linked to a variety of cancers, including childhood leukemia and brain cancer. In a recent study, indoor pesticide use was found to result in a risk factor four times higher than normal for childhood leukemia. This risk became seven times higher for the children of parents who used garden pesticides, and continued to climb in both cases, as the frequency of pesticide use went up.

Childhood brain cancer has been directly associated with the use of chemical pesticides, such as diazinon and carbaryl, in the garden or orchard, as well as with various herbicides used to control weeds. Pesticides used to control pests in the home have also been implicated in this disease, including those found in no-pest strips, termite pesticides, home pesticide bombs, and flea collars for pets.

No-pest strips may seem innocuous, but they emit continuous vapours of DDVP ( the active ingredient used in most strips ), a highly carcinogenic chemical associated with an increased risk for all types of cancer in children and adults alike, according to the EPA. People who use these strips as directed and are exposed to them over a lifetime have a greatly increased chance of getting cancer. This can be as high as one in one hundred, which is ten thousand times the risk that the EPA considers to be of significant concern.

The EPA also estimates that members of a household using the pest strips face a cancer risk ten times greater than even pest control workers who apply DDVP thousands of times a year without wearing protective clothing.

The cancer danger of the use of some pesticides extends to pets who come into close contact with contaminated soils, lawns and plants. Flea collars with DDVP put pets at a similarly increased cancer risk. Also, in our industrial age of plastics, chemicals, and metals manufacturing, it is common to find a higher incidence rate of cancer in any group of workers which are overly exposed to any of these carcinogens. Arsenic and vinyl chloride have been found to cause liver and lung cancers in smelting, tanning, and plastic workers. Asbestos has been linked to lung cancer in miners, glass and pottery workers, and iron workers. Painters and dye workers have been found to have a higher incidence of bone marrow cancers and leukemia because of their exposure to benzene.

It is estimated that ten percent of all cancers are attributable to job-related exposure to carcinogens.

Indoor pollution found in offices and homes, can also contain contaminants which lead to cancer. Some examples include formaldehyde fumes from pressed wood furniture and cabinets, fumes and vapors produced by cleaning products, air fresheners, paints, hobby supplies ( glues, varnishes, ect... ), and improperly vented gas stoves and driers, lead and other chemicals found in drinking water, office or home air systems which fill the air bacteria, mildew, and viruses, and radon gas inflitration.

The EPA estimates that indoor radon pollution may cause as many as ten thousand cancers per year in the United States.

The disinfection of drinking water with chlorine, is a standard practice throughout the United States, as also added to the toxic level of carcinogens Americans are exposed on a daily basis. While the EPA tries to downplay the cancer risk from chlorinating drinking water by asserting that the known risk of water-born disease in humans, if water is not disinfected, is much greater than the theoretical risk of developing cancer, a recent study conducted jointly by the Medical College of Wisconsin and Harvard University, has found a very definite link between chlorine and cancer. The study found that the consumption of chlorinated drinking water accounts for 15 % of all rectal cancers and 9 % of all bladder cancers in the United States, or an additional 6,500 cases of rectal cancer and 4,200 cases of bladder cancer each year. Additionally, people drinking chlorinated water over long periods of time have a 38 % increase in the chance of contracting rectal cancer and a 21 % increase in the risk of contracting bladder cancer.

Fluoride is another chemical which is routinely added to the water system today, even though it was first linked to cancer back in 1975. A comparison of ten large US cities that fluoridated their water with ten cities that did not found an increase of approximately ten percent in cancer deaths in the cities with fluoride in their water. As a result of this study, tests were ordered by congress which confirm that fluoride added to water causes cancer in laboratory animals, but the government has yet to change it's policy on fluoridation.

Industrial Toxicity
Industrial toxicity is an emerging technology which enables people to quantify the level of dangerous toxic chemicals absorbed into their bloodstream and bodily tissues via exposure at the workplace. One of the leading scientists in this field is Hildegarde L.A. Sacarello, PHD, founder and past president of the INternational Academy of Toxicological Risk Assessment.

Dr. Sacarello monitors the level of various contaminants in the workplace by obtaining tissue samples from workers and comparing the levels found to be recommended maximum safety levels. ( She is also able, in the case of male workers, to determine levels of toxins by analyzing semen ). Her expertise in this area enables her to determine the risk which a particular worker faces of developing environmentally induced illness, including cancer, and to advise that person accordingly. In some cases the employee is advised to totally avoid any further exposure.

For example, a 75 year old man was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Dr. Sacrello analyzed specimens of the cancerous tissues. These tissues showed abnormally high levels of a variety of carcinogenic chemicals, including arsenic, chlordane, and DDT, causing toxic overload and liver dysfunction in the patient. After three months of a detoxifying herbal and vitamin therapy, the patient's tumor shrunk by about a third.

Industrial toxicology offers the chance for workers to limit damaging exposure in the workplace, as well as a way for them to determine what factors may affect their health in the future.

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