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Organic Consumers Association

President's Cancer Panel: 'Eat Organic, Ward Off Cancer'

Thanks to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times ("New alarm bells about chemicals and cancer") for telling readers about a report on chemicals and cancer released last week by the President's Cancer Panel.

I had never heard of this panel—appointed during the Bush Administration, no less—and went right to its 2008-2009 annual report (PDF).

The Panel says that the "risk of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated," that "nearly 80,000 chemicals [are] on the market in the United States, many of which are ... understudied and largely unregulated," and that "the public remains unaware ... that children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults."
evidence suggests that some environmental agents may initiate or promote cancer by disrupting normal immune and endocrine system functions. The burgeoning number and complexity of known or suspected environmental carcinogens compel us to act to protect public health, even though we may lack irrefutable proof of harm.
I'm guessing this report will cause a furor. Why? "Lack irrefutable proof" means the science isn't there. In this situation, the Panel advises precaution. Check out these examples selected from the recommendations:

    • Parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children's exposure to toxics. Ideally, both mothers and fathers should avoid exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

    • It is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.

    • Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing ... food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers [translation: organics] and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues.

    • Exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feedlots can be minimized by eating free-range meat [translation: don't eat feedlot meat].

Expect to hear an uproar from the industries that might be affected by this report. The American Cancer Society (ACS) doesn't like it either (see Denise Grady's take on the report, also in the New York Times), since the report implies that the ACS hasn't been doing enough to educate the public about this issue.


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