The Environmental Causes of Cancer

Why We Can't Prevent Cancer
by Peter Montague
[...] between 1950 and 2001 the incidence rate for all types of cancer increased 85%, using age-adjusted data, which means cancer isn't increasing because people are living longer. People are getting more cancer because they're exposed to more cancer-causing agents.

Contrary to well-funded rumors, the culprit isn't just tobacco or the hundreds of toxic chemicals intentionally added to tobacco products. Tobacco products remain the single most significant preventable cause of cancer, but they have not been linked to the majority of cancers nor to many of the cancers that have increased most rapidly in recent decades including melanoma, lymphomas, testicular, brain, and bone marrow cancers.[pg. 1]

No, it's more complicated than just tobacco with its toxic additives. Most plastics, detergents, solvents, and pesticides and the toxic-waste by-products of their manufacture came into being after World War II. From the late 1950s to the late 1990s, we disposed of more than 750 million tons of toxic chemical wastes.[pg. 27] Over 40 years, this represents more than two tons of toxic chemical wastes discharged into the environment for each man, woman and child in the U.S. No wonder some of it has come back to bite us.
So let's not kid ourselves. Yes, cancer must be prevented because for the most part it can't be cured -- it can only be slashed and burned away at enormous cost, personal, social and monetary.

But saying cancer must be prevented is one thing. Expecting that it can be prevented within the framework of the modern economy is another. We can never stop working to prevent cancer -- and precautionary policies will always make sense no matter what kind of economy we have -- but until we shift to an economy that doesn't require growth, we'll find ourselves right where we are now -- on an accelerating rat wheel. As a result, we can expect to be living with more and more cancer at greater and greater cost to ourselves and to our children, accompanied by ever-increasing pain. It is not a pretty picture. But at least we can now see it clearly.

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  1. Not to mention the "cures" that are supposedly available. Curing cancer would end a Trillion dollar business.

  2. I wonder how many of the cancers people get today are related to nutrition. I am sure industrial waste and toxicity is a major factor, but I have to assume that diet is also a major factor, and this problem will only get worse as people eat more and more processed foods.

  3. No kidding... There are FDA regulations about how much (literally) Crap is in our food. Makes you think doesn't it...


Aldo Leopold: "We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."

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