You may have noticed one or two, or a kazillion pink ribbons commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Screening is the primary focus this month. Most activities rally around the Susan G. Komen for the Cure battle cry, “Early detection saves lives!”
Is screening the most current and critical message out there? Or does tunnel vision on detection and treatment deter us from the elephant in the breast cancer living room; environmental toxins. Unlike family history, these are within our control.
The raw truth is that over 50% of breast cancer cases have no known risk factors.
Link between environmental toxins and breast cancer
After a group of research powerhouses identified 216 chemicals that cause mammary tumors in animals, they emphasized the need for better assessment in humans. They argued for integrating these findings into policies that govern chemical exposure. Silent Spring Institute executive director Dr. Julia Brody stated, “We have a great opportunity to save thousands of lives by identifying those links, limiting exposure, and finding safer alternatives.”
What are we waiting for?
The precautionary principle of public health
This principle states there is a responsibility to protect the public from harm when scientific investigation has found a possible risk, not absolute proof. The one doing potential damage is responsible for taking action while uncertain science continues to explore alternatives.
It’s an approach that concentrates on prevention rather than cure.
It says, “Hey, maybe we should stop exposing people to synthetic estrogens and chlorinated hydrocarbons until we know more. Better safe than sorry!” It’s pure common sense.
A call for action
I am a big fan of personal responsibility. It is my job to reduce my risks by not living life like a drunken sailor. Considering my family’s legacy of breast cancer, I will also continue routine screenings despite my misgivings about mammogram efficacy.
But I want to see awareness campaigns take a proactive stand in educating the public about household and occupational toxins that might actually cause more disease than individual lifestyle and family history. I’ll leave the “why” this isn’t happening up to the more well-versed, anti-“pinkwashing” advocates. If you’re interested, check out KomenWatch or Breast Cancer Action, to name a few.
Kudos to the breast cancer awareness movement for making great strides in women’s health. But science has been pointing us in a new direction and the message is still getting lost. Time for mainstream advocates to take the next step in “awareness” and include environmental risk factors in the rally.
The link between the environment and breast cancer?
Want to learn more? Visit these sites. Please share any new or more current information you find!
- Breast Cancer Action: What You Should Know about Breast Cancer and the Environment
- Cancer Prevention Coalition: Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer
- Natural News: Breast Cancer Deception Month
- Vassar College: Environmental Risks of Breast Cancer
[Photo: click/morguefile (pink ribbon added by aejohnson)]