Canadian Cancer Society  [Printer-friendly version]
September 14, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: "We use the precautionary principle when
developing positions, which states that when an activity raises
threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary
measures should be taken even if some cause-and-effect relationships
are not fully established scientifically." American Cancer Society,
please take note.]

Canadian Cancer Society volunteers and staff want you to know what our
organization is doing to prevent and fight cancer and the difference
we are making in these areas. We believe that Canadians should be
protected from inadvertent exposure to cancer causing agents including
those in our environment.

Here are some of the things that we have been doing about cancer and
the environment:

We use the precautionary principle when developing positions, which
states that when an activity raises threats of harm to human health or
the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some
cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established

We have positions against the cosmetic use of pesticides, pressure
treated lumber and occupational exposure to carcinogens.

We constantly monitor new research and information in this area so we
can inform Canadians, develop and revise health messages and guide our
advocacy efforts.

We were leaders in advocating for the implementation of the Canadian
Strategy for Cancer Control. We applauded the federal government's
announcement in May 2006 of $52 million a year for 5 years to
implement the Strategy.Prevention is a major component of this cancer
strategy. As part of our work on the Strategy, we participated in a
committee that made recommendations about the prevention of
occupational and environmental cancers in Canada. We are also members
of a committee of the Strategy that recommended that a symbol be used
to clearly and quickly identify whether a substance does or does not
have any cancer-causing substances in it. We continue to apply
pressure to policy-makers to put this initiative into effect.

We worked with Cancer Care Ontario in 2005 to produce a report for
policy-makers and health professionals about environmental exposures
and cancer.

We have been funding prevention research, including projects:
investigating genetic and environmental factors that may cause acute
lymphoblastic leukemia -- one of the most common childhood cancers
identifying risk factors for prostate cancer including physical
activity, smoking, alcohol use and exposure to chemical agents found
in the workplace investigating possible environmental and genetic
factors that might contribute to the development of non-Hodgkin's

We've been leaders in tobacco control for years, including by
ensuring policies and legislation are in place to protect Canadians
from tobacco smoke. Thirty per cent of all cancers are caused by

The complexity of cancer requires that we approach the disease in a
comprehensive way and that we work in partnership with other
organizations -- governments, regulatory bodies, employers, businesses
and individuals -- to maximize the impact of our efforts. The
complexity of the disease also requires that we focus first on areas
where science tells us we can make a substantive difference.

Prevention is a vital part of the Society's work and we are always
intensifying our efforts in this area.

Here are some of the other things we're working on to help prevent

We brought together an international committee to develop updated
health messaging about vitamin D, UV exposure and cancer. There is a
strong scientific body of evidence showing that unprotected sun
exposure can increase your risk of skin cancer. However, there has
been mounting evidence to suggest that adequate vitamin D levels -
obtained through unprotected sun exposure or supplementation -- may
reduce your risk of some cancers. Key findings were released in May

We're reviewing the body of evidence around the benefits and risks of
oral contraceptives. We expect to have completed this review and to
have information available in the summer.

We're reviewing and will be updating our Seven Steps to Health to
better reflect what individuals can do to reduce exposure to cancer
causing substances at home, in their community and at work. You can
contribute to making healthy choices easy choices by working
together with us to advocate to governments and by working in your
communities to change policies.

We're establishing a Canadian Cancer Society Research Chair in the
Primary Prevention of Cancer at the University of British Columbia in

We're establishing a Canadian Cancer Society Chair in Population
Cancer Research at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

We launched a Cancer Prevention Week in Ontario (April 17-23) with
heavy emphasis on what individuals can do to reduce their risk in
conjunction with the need for supportive public policies in the areas
of both primary and secondary prevention.

We're finalizing a plan to have a panel of prevention research experts
review the current state of knowledge about cancer prevention in
Canada and around the world. These experts will then identify gaps in
our knowledge and make recommendations about how they can be filled.

We will be conducting a review of the CancerSmart Consumer Guide and,
if appropriate, assist in making it more easily accessible to

We will continue to be active members of the National Committee on
Environmental and Occupational Exposures and the Primary Prevention
Action Group, both part of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control.

We will continue our participation in the review of the Canadian
Environmental Protection Act.

We will continue to advocate to all levels of government to ensure
they implement policies that will protect Canadians from known or
probable carcinogens and that will help them make healthy choices easy

On a final note, you may have heard Canada is experiencing rising
cancer rates. In fact, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2006,
in general, incidence and death rates for the majority of cancer sites
have stabilized or declined for more than a decade. This means that
your individual risk of developing or dying of cancer is the same or
lower than it was 10 years ago. But because Canada's population is
growing, baby boomers are aging and cancer occurs most often in older
people, the number of new individual cases of cancer is rising. If
current rates continue however, in the next 20 years, the number of
new individual cases of cancer will rise by about 60%. At the Canadian
Cancer Society, we are absolutely committed to ensuring this does not
happen. The best way to control cancer is to stop it before it starts.

The Society takes pride in its ongoing work in prevention, providing
support for people with cancer, advocating to governments, providing
cancer information for all Canadians and funding important research.
Society volunteers and staff are committed to their efforts to
eradicate cancer and to improve the quality of life of people living
with the disease. In no small part, our efforts against cancer are
helping to prevent the disease and together we will continue to find
important answers about the disease.

Visit the prevention section of our website for more information
about our efforts.

Together we will make cancer history.