Toxic Chemicals and Cancer: It's Time to Take Action
An average of 23,650 Minnesotans are diagnosed with cancer each year. More than 9,000 die annually from cancer in this state. These numbers are overwhelming, especially when you consider that many of these cancers are not genetically inherited. For example, 90 to 95% of those diagnosed with breast cancer in this country do not have a mother or sister with the disease. We have to ask ourselves, could it be the chemicals in our every day lives?
Last May, the President’s Cancer Panel report called the link between cancer and environmental toxins “grossly underestimated.” The panel urged President Obama to “strongly use the power of [his] office” to help protect Americans from harmful chemicals. With the one-year anniversary of this report fast approaching, it’s time to heed the panel’s call to action.
Last month, right here in Minnesota, we heard another call to action: the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s list of priority chemicals. Created as a result of the 2009 Toxic Free Kids Act, this list addresses nine toxic chemicals, including several carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
Some of the list’s chemicals have been implicated in various forms of cancer. Ubiquitous endocrine disruptors, like BPA and phthalates, have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are found in everyday items from canned foods and store receipts to shampoos and soaps. Formaldehyde, found in building materials, pressed-wood furniture and even baby shampoo, has been linked to several cancers including nasal cancer.
While creating a priority chemical list is step in the right direction, Women’s Cancer Action and the other organizations of the Healthy Legacy Coalition, believe we need a comprehensive approach to chemicals policy. With 80,000 chemicals on the market today, this country’s chemical policies are backward at best and downright dangerous and deadly.
As an individual, you can try to avoid these toxins as best you can through lifestyle changes and purchasing decisions. But, if you want long-lasting change, you need to take action! Please join Women’s Cancer Action in signing a petition asking President Obama to use his presidential powers to create better chemical policies in this country. And, contact your Minnesota state legislator to ask him/her to do the same right here in Minnesota.
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