Rachel's Democracy & Health News #933 [Printer-friendly version] November 15, 2007 ENVIRONMENTAL AND OCCUPATIONAL CAUSES OF CANCER: NEW EVIDENCE [Rachel's introduction: The war on cancer, begun in 1971, has largely failed. Today, 36 years later, one of every two men and 4 out of every 10 women in the U.S. will get cancer at some time during their lives. Now scientists are emphasizing the need to take a preventive approach to cancer based on an understanding that cancer is caused by multiple interacting factors and not single agents.] A new review of recent scientific studies finds compelling evidence linking cancer with specific exposures, namely: ** Breast cancer from exposure to the pesticide DDT before puberty; ** Prostate cancer from exposure to pesticides and metal working fluids; ** Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma from exposure to pesticides and solvents; ** Brain cancer from exposure to non-ionizing radiation; ** Leukemia from exposure to 1,3-butadiene; ** Lung cancer from exposure to air pollution; plus a variety of cancers from exposure to pesticides based on early findings from the federal government's Agricultural Health Study. The new report, titled "Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer: New Evidence, 2005-2007," by Richard Clapp, Molly Jacobs and Edward Loechler, synthesizes the recent peer-reviewed scientific literature related to environmental and occupational exposures and cancer. This is the second report on the environmental causes of cancer by Richard Clapp and colleagues. The earlier report examined 30 years of scientific evidence documenting associations between certain cancers and exposure to cancer-causing agents (chemicals and radiation) in workplaces, schools, and homes. Both reports were published by the Center for Sustainable Production at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. This latest report emphasizes the multi-factorial, multi-stage nature of cancer causation and emphasizes the need for a new cancer prevention approach in the U.S., one based on an understanding that cancer is caused by multiple interacting factors and not single agents. "No longer can we claim that one factor is more important than another and no longer can we afford to have our cancer prevention programs focus on changes in diet or tobacco cessation while ignoring the occupational and environmental links," says Molly Jacobs. The term "cancer" covers more than 100 different diseases. Devra Davis's important new book The Secret History of the War on Cancer makes clear that the U.S. "war on cancer," which was declared by President Nixon in 1971, was misdirected from the beginning because it never focused on the causes of cancer. Today -- 36 years later -- one of every two men and 4 out of every 10 women in the U.S. will get cancer at some time during their lives. The two reports by Clapp and his colleagues, plus the important new book by Devra Davis, taken together, blow the lid off the nation's best-kept secret -- that a great deal of cancer is caused by routine exposures to industrial poisons that citizens encounter every day in their air, water, and food, and on the job -- and that the only real hope for solving this problem is prevention.