10 10 21 Running for a Cancer Cure JH

    All across the land this summer there were dozens of events in which people ran or walked to raise money for cancer cures. The reason these events are so popular is that virtually every Canadian is personally connected with someone who is suffering or has died from cancer. That includes me. And so I too have contributed to some of these fund-raisers with the hope that more cures can be found soon.

    But I sometimes wonder if we are running in the wrong direction. The focus seems to be on finding a cure for cancer once it has taken hold within our bodies. How often do we stop to think about what we might do to prevent cancer from developing in the first place? It seems to me that if we could harness the good will and resources of all the people running to find cancer cures for efforts to prevent cancer in the first place we might actually be further ahead. In other words, maybe we should be challenging each other to run in a different direction.

    So instead of focusing all our attention on finding the cure, we should also work together to clean up the chemical soup we swim around in every day – the soup that generates most of the cancers we live with today.

    At the bottom of this bowl of chemical soup lies the weak and ineffective regulation of toxic chemicals in Canada. Despite the Canadian government’s efforts to control toxic chemicals by using the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), chemical pollution has doubled in the last two decades. Canada ranks as one of the worst industrial polluters in the industrialized world. Already in 2003 Canadian industry reported releasing more than 4.5 billion kilograms of pollutants into Canada’s land, air and water.

    One doesn’t have to search far for specifics. Google for BPA, TCE, PFC and PAH, for example, and you will discover that these toxic substances surround and penetrate our bodies every day. No one argues that they cause a pandora’s box of cancers, besides other health problems like infertility, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, thyroid dysfunction, developmental disorders, etc.

    In 2006, four Canadian politicians volunteered to be tested for toxins in their bodies. In total, 54 carcinogens, 37 hormone disruptors, 16 respiratory toxins, 54 reproductive/developmental toxins, and 33 neurotoxins were discovered in their bodies.

    Recently I heard a news report on CTV that found a direct correlation between air pollution and breast cancer. Researchers had found that in a certain city where air pollution had doubled in ten years, so had the incidents of breast cancer.

    Such information is endless.

    The USA is presently introducing legislation that would put the onus on industry to prove a chemical to be safe before it is used, not on government to prove it is unsafe and then ban it after it has been in use for years. Pressing for a similar action in Canada would be, in my view, running in the right direction for cancer prevention.

Jack Heppner