AN OUNCE: The Challenge of Cancer Prevention

Diana Daghofer
By Diana Daghofer
March 12th, 2009

Cancer statistics are pretty scary. Right now, it is estimated that almost half of men (45%) and more than 1 in 3 women (40%) will develop cancer in their lifetimes (Canadian Cancer Society). As the Baby Boom generation gets older, even more Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer. But it’s not just our aging population – 30% of new cancer cases and 18% of cancer deaths now occur in young and middle-aged adults, aged 20-59.

Cancer incidence is rising in young women ages 20-39. Even worse, the umbilical cord blood of new-borns contains scores of cancer-causing substances such as pesticides, solvents, hormones and heavy metals – all commonly found in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.

Well over half of all cancers are ‘environmental’ – that is, they’re not caused by genes inherited from our parents, but from exposures in the womb and throughout life after our births. What we do to the environment, we do to ourselves – and to our children.

Prevent Cancer Now is a relatively new national organization – the only group in Canada dedicated entirely to eliminating the preventable causes of cancer. We work to provide people with the information they need to reduce their exposure to carcinogens. We lobby various levels of government to change regulations so our products and environment are safer. We believe that half of public research dollars should go into prevention – not the 2% that is currently spent on primary prevention (Canadian Cancer Research Alliance).

Why Prevention?

Enormous spending on research over the past 50 years has not found the elusive “cure” for cancer. Leading cancer scientists are realizing that the costly search for drugs to treat the more than 200 diseases that make up cancer is an endless black hole, and that far more attention should be paid to finding the causes of genetic mutations that lead to deadly tumours (Science, September 4, 2008).

To prevent cancer, we are urged to stop smoking – better still, never start – eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, limit alcohol consumption, and exercise regularly. This is all very good advice. But even more cancers can be prevented if we reduce or eliminate cancer-causing substances from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat – and from numerous consumer and personal products we use daily.

What can you do to Prevent Cancer?

The Rossland Telegraph will be carrying a regular column with practical steps people can take to reduce their exposure to cancer-causing agents. In the meantime, go to Prevent Cancer Now’s website and:

• Sign our Declaration for Cancer Prevention.
• Check out the “resources” and “prevention” sections.
• Support the Action Alerts on our home page for specific action you can take to reduce carcinogens in our environment.
Pledge your financial support, or help us raise funds through the Cancer Prevention Challenge Second Annual Cancer Prevention Challenge

The Cancer Prevention Challenge takes place on Red Mountain on March 21, with a “Score at the Stores” event in Rossland and Trail from March 18-20. You can participate in a full day of fun activities, join in the one or two that appeal to you most, or just join in the fundraising aspects to support cancer prevention in Canada.

Prevention is the best single opportunity we have to stop the cancer epidemic in Canada. We invite you to join us now!

Support cancer prevention in Canada through the Cancer Prevention Challenge.

Diana Daghofer is the national co-chair of Prevent Caner Now and will be writing a regular column with information on what people can do every day to reduce their exposure to cancer-causing agents.

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