President’s Cancer Panel: Cancer Caused by Contaminants “Grossly Underestimated”

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Much to the delight of environmentalists and to the chagrin of industry, a panel of experts has warned that cancer, the No. 2 killer of Americans, has been “grossly underestimated” when it comes to potential causes from everyday items and procedures. The three-person President’s Cancer Panel declared in its annual report that people are “bombarded” with chemicals, gases and radiation that can cause cancer, and the federal government—especially President Barack Obama—should do more to protect Americans from these carcinogens.

“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,” the report says. Only a few hundred of the chemicals have been tested for safety, according to the Cancer Panel.
The panel also warned about the uncertain dangers posed by cell phones, arguing people should wear headsets and limit their call times to minimize exposure. And it recommended that the military “aggressively address the toxic and environmental exposures it has caused,” in particular the needs of the people of the Marshall Islands, who were exposed to major radiation during U.S. nuclear weapons testing from 1946 to 1958.
The American Cancer Society took issue with the report, describing it as provocative while perhaps overstating some risks at the expense of known causes of cancer, like tobacco, obesity, alcohol and sunlight.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk (by Suzanne H. Reuben, President’s Cancer Panel) (pdf)
U.S. Panel Criticized as Overstating Cancer Risks (by Denise Grady, New York Times)


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