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  New York Times Whitewashes Environmental Causes of Cancer -- by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.

       CHICAGO, Dec. 14 (AScribe Newswire) -- Following is a commentary by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.; Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition; Professor Emeritus, Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health.

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       New York Times Whitewashes Environmental Causes of Cancer

       New York Times columnist Gina Kolata's article, "Environment and Cancer: The Links are Elusive" (Dec. 13, 05), claims that "cancer statistics do not indicate a cancer epidemic," and that "Rates of cancer have been steadily dropping for 50 years," apart from tobacco-related cancers.

       However, these claims are contrary to the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) latest available data in its "Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2002." During this period, there has been a major decrease in the incidence of lung cancer, the single most common cancer, due to decreased smoking in men. Meanwhile, there has been a major increase in the incidence of a wide range of non-smoking related cancers. These include: Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, by 74 percent; acute childhood leukemia, by 68 percent; childhood brain cancer, by 52 percent; acute adult leukemia, by 56 percent; and testes cancer, by 51 percent. Overall mortality rates have remained virtually unchanged, despite $50 billion NCI funding, predominantly allocated to diagnosis, treatment and treatment related research, with only minimal funding for research on cancer prevention.

       Contrary to Kolata's assertion, there is an extensive body of published evidence on avoidable exposures to carcinogens in the totality of the environment -- air, water, the workplace, and consumer products; food, cosmetics and toiletries; and household products. This information has been summarized in the Cancer Prevention Coalition's 2003 "The Stop Cancer Before It Starts Campaign," endorsed by over 100 leading scientific experts on cancer prevention and epidemiology ( Further information is detailed in the September 2005 University of Massachusetts review on Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer (, by Dr. Richard Clapp, a leading international epidemiological expert, and colleagues at the Boston University School of Public Health.

       Finally, Kolata's article is consistent with her track record of extreme anti-environmental and pro-corporate bias. Surely the New York Times could publish a more objective report on such a critical national concern.

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