Cancer Activists Say American Cancer Society Downplays Environmental Causes of Cancer
(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2005) Three leaders of cancer support and education groups accused the American Cancer Society (ACS) of downplaying the links between environmental contaminants and cancer during a forum last week in Millbrook, New York, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. Earlier this year, health officials announced that cancer is now, for the first time ever, the #1 killer of Americans younger than 85 (See article).
"What is the American Cancer Society saying about environmental contamination? Nothing!" said Barbara Smith, coordinator of the Oncology Support Program at Benedictine Hospital in Kingston. "They're raising money and buying flowers. Let them do something with their money that will help us here and now."
Rose Marie Williams, president of the Cancer Awareness Coalition, and Hope Nemiroff, executive director of Breast Cancer Options, agreed. "The American Cancer Society never endorses the potential link between cancer and environmental contaminants," Ms. Williams said. "Their message is that detection is the best prevention. If it's been detected, you have not been protected."
Ms. Williams also accused the American Cancer Society of being influenced by money donated by pharmaceutical companies and industries that use hazardous chemicals. According to the ACS’s 2004 annual report, IBM Corp. donated more than $1 million, the Industry Cancer Foundation and Dow Chemical donated more than $100,000 each, and several pharmaceutical companies also donated more than $100,000.
Of its $131 million research budget, the American Cancer Society will spend $8 million this year on studies of potential environmental causes of cancer, spokesman Paul McGee said Monday. "We study all the evidence and we act on the science," Mr. McGee said. "When we find a clear link between something and cancer, we act on it."
A growing number of studies have linked pesticides to cancer. Of the 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 13 are probable or possible carcinogens. In schools, 24 of 48 commonly used pesticides are probable or possible carcinogens. A study sponsored by the National Cancer Institute indicates that household and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia as much as seven-fold. Other studies show that children living in households where pesticides are used suffer elevated rates of leukemia, brain cancer and soft tissue sarcoma. Two commonly used herbicide, 2,4-D and glyphosate, have been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in scientific studies.
TAKE ACTION: Call the American Cancer Society, 1-800-227-2345, or fill out the contact form on their website, and ask them to devote more money and time researching environmental causes of cancer.