Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Children and Cancer

The word “carcinogen” has become almost ubiquitous in our society as scientists learn more about how various chemicals and technologies impact our health. At Grassroots, much of our work on environmental health issues refers to certain types of exposures as possible, likely or proven carcinogens.

This month has been designated as "Childhood Cancer Awareness Month," and it reminds us that “carcinogen" is not just an abstract scientific term. Carcinogens cause cancer in people, including small children. 

The fact that we even have a special month dedicated to children with cancer should be cause for alarm.  It seems to me we should all be marching in the streets, demanding action. After all, we already know many of the causes of cancer. Carcinogens appear in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the products we consume. From hot dogs and diesel exhaust to benzene and cell phones, carcinogens are all around us. 

But even though these causes are well-known and scientifically established, the medical, pharmaceutical and biotech communities, with the compliant cooperation of government agencies, are intensely focused on finding a “cure” for cancer, rather than preventing it in the first place. After all, why spend money removing carcinogenic chemicals from our food or air, or ban products known to cause cancer, if we can spend that money (and make a fortune) developing a “cure?”

The reason, of course, is that while we eat, drink and expose ourselves to known carcinogens, children are suffering and dying.


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