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From the Office of the Cancer Prevention Coalition





Escalating Incidence of Childhood Cancer Is Ignored by the National Cancer

Institute and American Cancer Society, Warns Samuel S. Epstein, M.D.

And Quentin D. Young, M.D.


CHICAGO, May 9, 2002- /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released by Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and Professor

Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois

School of Public Health, Chicago, and Quentin D. Young, M.D., Chairman of the

Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, Past President of American Public

Health Association, Chicago:


Since passage of the 1971 National Cancer Act, launching the "War Against

Cancer," the incidence of childhood cancer has steadily escalated to alarming

levels. Childhood cancers have increased by 26% overall, while the incidence

of particular cancers has increased still more: acute lymphocytic leukemia,

62%; brain cancer, 50%; and bone cancer, 40%. The federal National Cancer

Institute (NCI) and the "charitable" American Cancer Society (ACS), the cancer

establishment, have failed to inform the public, let alone Congress and

regulatory agencies, of this alarming information. As importantly, they have

failed to publicize well-documented scientific information on avoidable causes

responsible for the increased incidence of childhood cancer. Examples


-- Over 20 U.S. and international studies have incriminated paternal and

maternal exposures (pre-conception, during conception and

post-conception) to a wide range of occupational carcinogens as major

causes of childhood cancer.

-- There is substantial evidence on the risks of brain cancer and leukemia

in children from frequent consumption of nitrite-dyed hot dogs;

consumption during pregnancy has been similarly incriminated. Nitrites,

added to meat for coloring purposes, have been shown to react with

natural chemicals in meat (amines) to form a potent carcinogenic


-- Consumption of non-organic fruits and vegetables, particularly in baby

food, contaminated with high concentrations of multiple residues of

carcinogenic pesticides, poses major risks of childhood cancer, besides

delayed cancers in adult life.

-- Numerous studies have shown strong associations between childhood

cancers, particularly brain cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and

leukemia, and domestic exposure to pesticides from uses in the home,

including pet flea collars, lawn and garden; another major source of

exposure is commonplace use in schools.

-- Use of lindane, a potent carcinogen in shampoos for treating lice and

scabies, infesting about six million children annually, is associated

with major risks of brain cancer; lindane is readily absorbed through

the skin.

-- Treatment of children with Ritalin for "Attention Deficit Disorders"

poses risks of cancer, in the absence of informed parental consent.

Ritalin has been shown to induce highly aggressive rare liver cancers

in rodents at doses comparable to those prescribed to children.

-- Maternal exposure to ionizing radiation, especially in late pregnancy,

is strongly associated with excess risks of childhood leukemia.


It is of particular significance that the cancer establishment ignored the

continuing increase in the incidence of childhood cancer in its heavily

promoted, but highly arguable, March 1998 "claim to have reversed an almost

20-year trend of increasing cancer cases."


The failure of the cancer establishment to warn of these avoidable cancer

risks reflects mindsets fixated on damage control -- screening, diagnosis, and

treatment -- and basic genetic research, with indifference to primary

prevention, as defined by research and public education on avoidable causes of

cancer. For the ACS, this indifference extends to a well-documented

longstanding track record of hostility, such as supporting the Chlorine

Institute in defending the continued global use of chlorinated organic

pesticides, and assurances in the 2002 Cancer Facts and Figures that cancer

risks from dietary pesticides and ionizing radiation are all at such low

levels as to be "negligible." This indifference to primary prevention is

compounded by conflicts of interest, particularly with the giant cancer drug

industry. Not surprisingly, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the nation's

leading charity watchdog, has charged that: "The ACS is more interested in

accumulating wealth than saving lives."


The minimal priorities of the cancer establishment for prevention reflects

mindsets and policies and not lack of resources. NCI's annual budget has

increased some 20-fold since passage of the 1971 Act, from $220 million to

$4.2 billion, while revenues of the ACS are now about $800 million. NCI

expenditures on primary prevention have been estimated as under 4% of its

budget, while ACS allocates less than 0.1% of its revenues to primary

prevention and "environmental carcinogenesis."


It should be particularly stressed that fetuses, infants and children are

much more vulnerable and sensitive to toxic and carcinogenic exposures than

are adults. It should also be recognized that the majority of carcinogens

also induce other chronic toxic effects, especially in fetuses, infants and

children. These include endocrine disruptive and reproductive,

haematological, immunological and genetic, for which there are no available

incidence trend data comparable to those for cancer.

The continued silence of the cancer establishment on avoidable causes of

childhood, besides a wide range of other, cancers is in flagrant denial of the

specific charge of the 1971 National Cancer Act "to disseminate cancer

information to the public." As seriously, this silence is a denial of the

public's inalienable democratic right-to-know of information directly

impacting on their health and lives, and of their right to influence public


Whether against cancer or terrorism, war is best fought by preemptive

strategies based on prevention rather than reactively on damage control. As

importantly, the war against cancer must be waged by leadership accountable to

the public interest and not, as is still the case, special agenda private

interests. The time for open public debate on national cancer policy is long



SOURCE Cancer Prevention Coalition 05/09/2002 /CONTACT: Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Chicago, +1-312-996-2297, fax, +1-312-413-9898, /

Quentin D. Young, M.D., Chairman of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, Past President of American Public Health Association, Chicago, +1-312-372-4292,

Web site: /



CO: Cancer Prevention Coalition ST: Illinois IN: MTC BIO HEA

SU: JR-AJ -- CGTH004 -- 2641 05/09/2002 11:00 EDT


Copyright 2002, PR Newswire

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