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U.S. Must Do More to Cut Cases of Environmental Cancers
Date:5/6/2010

President's Cancer Panel report urges more public awareness of harm from common chemicals

THURSDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- The United States is not doing enough to reduce the incidence of environmentally induced cancers, a risk that has been "grossly underestimated," a special report released Thursday by the President's Cancer Panel shows.

In particular, the authors pointed to the apparent health effects of 80,000 or so chemicals, including bisphenol A (BPA), that are used daily by millions of Americans. Studies have linked BPA with different types of cancer, at least in animal and laboratory tests.

"The real burden of environmentally induced cancer greatly underestimates exposure to carcinogens [and] is not addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program," said Dr. LaSalle D. Leffall Jr., chair of the panel and Charles R. Drew professor of surgery at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C. "We need to eliminate these carcinogens from workplaces, homes and schools, and we need to start doing that now. There's ample opportunity for intervention and change, and prevention to protect the health of all Americans."

The American Cancer Society, however, has painted a less grim picture of progress in the last several decades.

"What does not come across is the very large amount that has been learned about the causes of cancer and prevention efforts to address them," said Dr. Michael Thun, vice president emeritus of epidemiology and surveillance research at the American Cancer Society. "Tobacco control is probably the single biggest public health accomplishment of the past 60 years. They are advocates for this particular focus of cancer prevention, but cancer prevention is much broader than this."

Despite advances, cancer is still a major public health problem in the United States and about 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, the
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