Paul Cienfuegos’ January 5, 2016 Commentary on KBOO Evening News
(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at PaulCienfuegos.com, CommunityRightsPDX.org/podcast, or subscribe via ITunes.)
Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.
Today is my fifth commentary about what I call the “cancer industrial complex”. Last week I focused on the myriad of ways that corporations are directly causing this cancer epidemic, and how the American Cancer Society not only looks the other way and does nothing about it, but colludes with those very companies to keep the ever-so-profitable cancer epidemic going. Today I’m going to read excerpts from a recent article titled “The Real Root Causes of Cancer” by Dr. Kamyar Enshayan. He is the Director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa, and has lectured widely on pesticides and cancer. Here’s the article…
Another round of pink ribbon this, T-shirt that, 5K runs, fight-for-the-cure walks, and click-here-to-donate was upon us during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (in October). Clearly we need to raise awareness and support those affected, but we do not seem to be serious about addressing the root causes.
The emphasis is on early detection and treatment (after you have cancer) and on personal responsibility, like diet and physical activity, which are all necessary. But the most effective prevention strategy — a healthy environment to live in — is not on our pink to-do list.
You almost never see or hear the word “carcinogen” in doctors’ offices nor in educational campaigns about cancer. Here is what a basic human genetics textbook says about cancer: “As much as 90% of all forms of cancer are attributable to specific environmental factors. Because exposure to these environmental factors can, in principle, be controlled, most cancer could be prevented. … Reducing or eliminating exposure to environmental carcinogens would dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer in the United States.” …
A 2007 American Cancer Society investigation identified 216 chemicals known to cause breast cancer in animals. Of these, 73 are found in food, water, and consumer products, 35 are air pollutants, and 29 of them are produced in the United States in large amounts every year. Given this reality, cancer prevention should mean changing our nation’s industry-controlled chemical regulatory system, which allows these known carcinogens to stay on the market even when sound alternatives are available.
Let’s look closer to home here in Iowa. In 2014, 8 million pounds of acetochlor and 6.7 million pounds of atrazine (both corn weed killers) were applied to Iowa’s soil and water. Atrazine is a possible carcinogen, a known endocrine disruptor, banned in Europe, linked to reproductive cancers and birth defects, and is the most common weed killer detected in surface and groundwater in the United States. Are breast cancer prevention advocates paying attention here? (I recently attended a Relay for Life event held on a lawn freshly sprayed with 2,4-D, with strong links to many forms of lymphoma.)
Glyphosate ([a key ingredient in] RoundUp) is declared by the World Health Organization as a probable carcinogen. Did your doctor or fight-for-the-cure organizers tell you that 13 million pounds of this probable carcinogen are applied to bean [fields] in Iowa annually? Did she tell you that a total of 50 million pounds of weed killers, insecticides, and fungicides are applied all over Iowa every year? Remember, reducing or eliminating exposure to environmental carcinogens would dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer in the United States.
Doctors, public health professionals and cancer prevention advocates need to know one very important fact: it is totally possible and practical to have a productive agriculture without the use of pesticides. … Agronomist Matt Liebman and colleagues at Iowa State University have demonstrated that a more diverse cropping system would take away the need for nearly all of that 50 million pounds of highly hazardous pesticides, with no loss of productivity. …
Biologist Sandra Steingraber in her book “Living Downstream” explains the way we have come to think of cancer prevention. Referring to cancer fliers found in doctors’ offices, she says “by emphasizing personal habits rather than carcinogens, they frame the cause of the disease as a problem of behavior rather than as a problem of exposure to disease-causing agents.” The focus on lifestyle … blames the victim, and is dismissive of threats that lie beyond personal choice.
In Iowa, it is not a lifestyle choice to drink hormonally active corn weed killers in our public drinking water; it is not a lifestyle choice when our kids play in schoolyards that are sprayed with carcinogens. It is not a lifestyle choice when a parks department fogs the entire neighborhood with neurotoxins for no good reason.
Here is the conclusion of a consensus statement of the cancer research and advocacy community to the President’s Cancer Panel in 2008: “The most direct way to prevent cancer is to stop putting cancer-causing agents into our indoor and outdoor environments in the first place.” Let’s put that on a pink ribbon and Fight for Prevention.
I have been reading from an article titled “The Real Root Causes of Cancer” by nationally acclaimed agricultural engineer and ecologist Dr. Kamyar Enshayan. He’s the Director of the Center for Energy & Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa, and has lectured widely on pesticides and cancer. The article appears in the November 1, 2015 issue of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier newspaper in Iowa.
You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback.
You can subscribe to my weekly podcast via I-Tunes or at CommunityRightsPDX.org. You can sign up for my ‘Community Rights Updates’ at PaulCienfuegos.com. You can follow me on twitter at CienfuegosPaul. THANKS FOR LISTENING! And remember: WE are the people we’ve been WAITING for.