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The Cancer Connection: How Environmental Contaminants and Industrial Carcinogens Affect Public Health

written by: ciel s cantoria•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 9/1/2011

The NCI has the resources to undertake researches for gathering data to be used for cancer prevention and protection. Yet, despite the establishment of links between the leading causes of cancer and environmental contaminants as well as industrial carcinogens, cancer cases are still on the rise.

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    The National Cancer Act of 1971


    In 1971, the US Senate and House of Representatives officially recognized the fact that cancer had become a leading cause of death in the US. Thus, the National Cancer Act was passed to enable the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to support cancer research programs. The main purpose of the research studies were to collect, analyze as well as disseminate data that will be used for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cancer and all other actions necessary to help the American people fight the prevailing threats.

    However, despite the funded research and programs, the NCI has been criticized for ignoring the links between the environmental contaminants and industrial carcinogens to the rising statistics in actual deaths. The Cancer Prevention Coalition, in particular, cites that the NCI has not made any reports to support or debunk the said links, if they are indeed the probable causes of deaths.

    Nevertheless, the following information gathered, furnishes brief overviews about the purported connections.

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    The Presence of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP)

    incineration plants 

    The existence of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as industrial carcinogens, have been recognized and confirmed by other countries as having detrimental effects in human bodies. The Federal Centers for Disease Control embodied these findings in their reports which cited POPs, and further sub-classified them as PCDD or Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins, PCBs or polychlorinated biphenyls and PCDFs or polychlorinated dibenzofurna, furans and tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or dioxins. They were proven as persistent environmental hazards that result in:

    (1) reproductive defects, (2) dermal toxicity, (3) immunotoxicity, (4) endocrine disruption, and (5) carcinogenicity.

    Cancer research studies made in most industrialized countries revealed that these Persistent Organic Pollutants, especially the PCDDs and PCDFs, are twice to three times higher, compared to those found in developing countries. Their links to environmental contaminants/industrial carcinogens are in the forms of:

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    Ionizing Radiation

    800px-X-ray table 

    There is also the matter of ionizing radiations which has been proven as carcinogenic as it is regarded as one of the most researched leading causes of cancer. There are indications that three percent of all cancer cases in 1990 are linked to human exposure to radiation.

    Comprehend that ionizing radiation is a factor that could alter the molecular structures of the cells, since it is able to remove the electrons from the atoms. These cells will multiply and take control once they develop as full-scale carcinogens.

    Studies of some patients treated with radiations in the past, showed that another form of cancerous disorder took place after the original had been treated. This upheld the findings about the ionizing radiation’s ability to alter cell structures. In addition, the radiologists who handled the x-ray examinations during the early 1920s, did not shield themselves during such tests. Subsequently, they themselves developed leukemia at excessive rates.

    Other evidences of ionizing radiation derived from excessive human exposure to radiation, made reference to the women workers who painted radium dials during the 1930's . Aside from being greatly exposed to radioactive radium, they also ingested the substance every time they licked their paint brushes to make finer tips.

    Radioactive fallout during nuclear weapons tests and at uranium mining sites that provide fuel for nuclear power plants, resulted in high incidences of respiratory cancers in miners. Other sources of radiation exposure include the stored radioactive wastes buried beneath the ground at certain location sites, which unfortunately, were later sold as residential areas.

    After several years, the stored nuclear wastes later leaked as radon and contaminated the groundwater. The said leakage slowly produced emissions in buildings and homes which subjected the dwellers to excessive indoor radon exposures. Related medical findings in areas identified as highly contaminated by radioactive wastes, disclosed that ten percent of lung cancers were estimated as due to radon exposure. Typical of any carcinogenic substances and chemicals, it takes about 10 to 15 years before the cancer develops into a full-blown health disorder.

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    Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

    Although there were also links between cancer and electromagnetic fields, the World Health Organization took the initiative to award grants for research studies that can establish and confirm the link between cancer and the electromagnetic fields in the environment. However, there is still no conclusive evidence being considered by WHO as a basis for considering EMFs as environmental or industrial carcinogens.

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    Decrepit and Leaking Nuclear Power Plants Still Operating under Renewed Licenses

    800px-Indian Point 

    There are radioactive emissions leaking from old pipes of ancient and rundown nuclear plants still operating to date. There are 103 old power plants in the US described as decrepit and no longer meeting the required safety standards, yet about half of them have been granted renewal of licenses.

    These power plants include the Indian Point power plant, which consistently failed in vital safety measures. In addition, it was recommended for shut down by its own safety auditor, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) still issued a report that said the plant met all regulatory standards for safety. Naturally, the Indian Point power plant was granted renewal of license.

    Another example, is the Oyster Creek Generating Station located in New Jersey, which was granted a renewal of its license for another 20 years by the NRC, despite the nuclear power plant’s poor state and condition. In fact, seven days after the license renewal, workers discovered Tritium radioactive leaks that were spilling 7,200 gallons of polluted water everyday, which mingled with the area’s drinking water. Tritium has been linked as a carcinogenic substance if inhaled or absorbed by the skin in great amounts, which is highly possible if it has already contaminated the sources of drinking water.

    DOE’s Silent Management of Radioactive Waste Metals for Recycling into Household Products

    The Department of Energy is said to have released hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive waste metals coming from nuclear power industries and nuclear weapons to select companies. Accordingly, they are being recycled into household products, which include building materials, frying pans, knives and baby strollers.

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    Environmental Contributors

    Vogrie Golf Course. - - 49123 

    Wide Use of Carcinogenic Herbicides in Golf Courses

    Substantial evidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, colorectal, brain, and prostate cancers have been found among golf-course workers and supervisors. The said disorders were linked to the workers' excessive exposure to high concentrations of carcinogenic herbicides and fungicides that were utilized in order to maintain verdant golf-lawns. In addition, there are fears about the possibility of golf course water run-offs to eventually contaminate watersheds.

    The Herbicide Atrazine Already Banned in European Countries but Still in Use in the US

    Home gardens, lawns and cornfields in the US still use the herbicide atrazine, despite being established by European countries as the most common water pollutant. The said herbicide has been proven to cause cancer disorders like non Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, ovarian and prostate. This, despite independent tests made on rodents, which resulted in breast cancer and endocrine disruption.

    The Fluoridation of Drinking Water Using Industrial Fluorosilicate Wastes

    This substance is said to contain contaminated carcinogens from heavy metals and is suspected to have contributed to the bone cancer of among 60% of US male youths. This is in stark contrast to European incidences of only 2%.

    The Improper Recycling of Municipal or Landfill Wastes

    Heavy metals, dioxins and radionuclides are not removed from the composted wastes and thus become part of soil augmentations that serve as fertilizers. Hence, they add to the soil contents which are absorbed by plants to eventually cause plant extinction and groundwater contamination. In the meantime, the earlier produce were consumed by both animals and humans.

    The Use of Cosmetics and Other Products Tainted with Carcinogens

    Cosmetics were found to contain excessive amounts of regulated chemicals considered as toxic or found to contain alternative agents to produce the toxic substance in amounts that could not be quantified, since they are slowly released. Most often, almost all cosmetics, personal care products and cleaning implements that contain the regulated chemicals considered as carcinogens, are being used by a single individual in a single day. Hence, the intakes reach excessive amounts of the cancer causing agents when using multiple products.

    A lot of people believe that if the National Cancer Institute will not withhold data about the link between the leading causes of cancer and the environmental contaminants and industrial carcinogens, as gathered from their research studies, the Cancer Prevention Coalition can help win the war against cancer.


Dangerous Carcinogens

In this series, you will find information on the carcinogens around us that can be detrimental to our health. You will read about carcinogens in plastic bottles and in industrial manufacturing and how their exposure can affect our bodies, including those that may cause cancer.
  1. Debunking the Rumors About Carcinogens in PET Bottles
  2. Risks Posed by Excessive Exposure to Chemical Carcinogens in Industries
  3. The Cancer Connection: How Environmental Contaminants and Industrial Carcinogens Affect Public Health