Category Archives: Blog

BLOG: A view from Tasmania

There has been a growing if not vague and disconnected awareness here of the presence of toxins in the environment but nothing either informative or educational forthcoming from key authorities like public health.

In my daily to-ing and fro-ing around medical sites, community centres and chemist shops I see in detail the vast range of health care and risk avoidance topics selected for public education – smoking, bike riders use of helmets, falls avoidance, balanced diet, alcohol and smoking risks to baby during pregnancy, recognition of stroke onset symptoms, promotion of cancer screening tests, eye care, relaxation therapies, ADHD in children, epilepsy management, diabetes, a noticeable increase in aged care and mental health categories plus numerous government and non -government sources of help for different addictions and conditions.

Most are attractive, and well designed using easy to understand text and graphics – in short, inviting to one and all. Lots of duplication as you’d expect in the competitive world of health care and no doubt each publication uses up a fair chunk of annual budgets across the public health sector.

As we all know many standard and current Public Health messages are reinforced in other media from advertisements to documentaries. Apart from rarely reported incidences like toxic leakage from old mine sites affecting lead and mercury levels in a few very small settlements ( under 100 people) reports of which are one-day headlines, I truly think that given the fact of there being no authorized and coordinated public education program on environmental factors affecting health, it’s pretty amazing that there seems to be some level of general but unfocussed awareness of at least some environmental health risks in Tasmania. Until dots are joined up linking wild and aquatic life diseases, soil contamination from past manufacturing, overuse of herbicides, fungicides, pesticides etc to human health outcomes, it will remain so.

Known for green actions to save forests, whales, endangered wildlife species, coastal sites, and for increasing our numbers of national parks and world heritage sites, Tasmania is now a top tourist destination. Yet aside from some attention to health risks associated with fracking exploits, not one of these action organisations has included human life in its remit since they first fired up to save a wild river in 70s. One had a go in recent times but has since retired exhausted by the struggle.

It is quite odd to be living in such a naturally beautiful part of the world knowing it’s also an extremely toxic place from both past and present practices, and from where our now major industries of tourism and gambling lead to nought but smug complacency and bland denial of anything nasty in our ‘pristine environment’ among the too many grey suits running the show. Tasmania is also the poorest state with the highest levels of unemployment & illiteracy and numbers of people affected by chronic diseases.

I haven’t seen or heard of any health concerns from workers but that’s not to say they don’t exist since we are also handicapped by Murdoch controlled media in such matters.

Still, I live in hope!

Diana Ward
February 2016

What the frack??!!

How the hell do you get from fracking equipment to breast cancer?

In the USA, the highly popular Daily Show takes on the ludicrous effort by fracking companies to ‘pinkwash’ themselves at the same time as they pollute the environment with carcinogens. Very funny, very dark and totally right. (click to remove the GRIST window that comes up first)

And on the same subject, the brilliant author and activist, Sandra Steingraber gives more detail – she was the first to write about the ‘sex toy’ from hell.

And finally, here is a recent research paper published on the scary issue of fluids used in fracking.

We at From Pink to Prevention support all those who oppose the fracking push – wherever that might be in the world. Here in the UK we need to push back the government and energy industry efforts to frack in both cities ad countryside – including national parks. We must seek clean, green, local, sustainable renewable answers to our energy needs – and in doing so, enhance our health outcomes.

Health before Profits overcoming the Vested Interests barrier

You would think if a chemical has been shown to have links with breast cancer causation, testicular cancer or decreasing fertility, it would be banned immediately – especially from products people come into contact with every day through their work or at home? If they are produced at all in the first place, toxic chemicals should only be found on a high dusty shelf in a laboratory and in a tightly sealed bottle labelled Toxic Do Not Open! But alas this is not the case. Why, we ask ourselves? Where is the logic? Surely something that could harm our health should override profit? Not so, and we have the barrier of vested interest to thank for this continuing exposure.

A recent report from the Corporate European Observatory stated that two thirds of the scientists involved in decision making on controversial and potentially harmful chemicals for use in the EU had at least one conflict of interest, that is, they had direct or indirect links with the affected industries.

This, unfortunately, is not an isolated case.

According to the CEO report, scientific committees whose work it is to evaluate whether a chemical or substance is safe to use or not, can be biased due to committee members being directly paid by the affected industry or by working in an institution or facility which receives funding from that industry. Sometimes the research used to make a decision on the health and safety of that chemical has been provided by the industry which manufactures the ingredient or product. When the safety of a specific ingredient is reviewed, science that has already been dismissed as not applicable cannot be re-examined. This is the case for one of the chemicals case studied in the CEO report, parabens, still widely used as preservatives in cosmetics and still linked with breast cancer.

Vested interests can manifest themselves repeatedly in the regulation of chemicals especially when it comes to chemicals used as ingredients in a myriad of everyday products. An award winning report from Stéphane Horel and Brian Bienkowski,“Special report: Scientists critical of EU chemical policy have industry ties,” published by the Environmental Health News in Sept 2013 highlighted the influenced exerted by scientific journal editors over content relating to chemical safety.

The report revealed that of the 18 toxicology journal editors who signed a controversial editorial, 17 have collaborated with the chemical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, tobacco, pesticide or biotechnology industries. Some have received research funds from industry associations, while some have served as industry consultants or advisers. The stakes are high for this issue as it’s to do with efforts to regulate Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) in the EU, the first time ever this has been tried. The new rules will have global ramifications for the companies who produce products containing these chemicals, or use them in services they provide, so it is in their best interest to stall proceedings.

Of course industry lobbying influences policy on chemicals. The stalling on the EDC legislation, due to “Industry lobbying’ has put regulation back by 3-5 years, which was entirely the intention,” according to Prof Andreas Kortenkamp quoted in the Guardian. More information on this issue can be found here on the EDC Free website.

So how do we get over, around, or break through this barrier? We must demand increased transparency, safety above profits, and unbiased science advice given by unbiased advisers. The first step to overcoming a barrier is to identify that it exists, then we gain the power to overcome it.


Barriers to Prevention


For a disease that affects so many women, both directly and indirectly, it’s fair to say that the issue of how environmental and occupational exposures impact on the disease is shockingly absent. No surprise when you realise how many ‘barriers’ stand in the way of this vital part of the story getting out – barriers that impede primary prevention, in other words, stopping the disease before its start.

One of the biggest ‘barriers’ to try and clamber over is the ‘pink’ takeover of the disease – not least the way in which fundraising has become the predominant ‘pink-driven’ focus for the public. Fundraising is good – but not when it displaces other, equally vital elements of the debate.

One of the key areas of our campaign, is to promote the inclusion of ‘barriers to primary prevention’ in the breast cancer debate.

Once you start to get the ‘barriers’ picture, you are starting to join up the dots – and understand how the wider system effectively closes down the environmental and occupational story…There are a number of attitudes, mind-sets and misconceptions standing in the way of a primary prevention focus on breast cancer.

These include acceptance that breast cancer is inevitable; confusion that early detection is prevention, when it is not; a fixation on treatment and control; ignorance of the wider issue of primary prevention and the role of the media in perpetuating this, where a narrow focus on lifestyle – like a narrow focus on genetic mechanisms– obscures cancer’s environmental and occupational roots; procrastination where ‘more research’ is the standard response to calls for prevention policies; the invisibility factor, as, sadly, we cannot see many of the chemicals that are hazardous to our health; fear – fear of cancer feeds our resistance both to learning and even thinking about the disease. Finally, vested interests and the status quo – there is no profit in prevention. The disease of cancer has spawned a major world industry which, to, date has proven a major barrier to the debate about environmental and occupational links to breast cancer getting out.

Combined, these barriers prove to be a powerful means by which to marginalise those who have – over decades – argued for the inclusion of environmental and occupational links to breast cancer. This needs to stop.


The Big Question


Welcome to our new breast cancer campaign FROM PINK to PREVENTION where we expose the barriers to gaining serious attention for ‘primary prevention’ as an attainable goal for breast cancer, on the basis of more than half a century of scientific evidence.

Central to our campaign is one big fundamental question which we will use in challenging all those individuals, organisations and institutions with the power to make or to influence decisions affecting public and occupational health in general and breast cancer incidence in particular.

We will be asking government, the chemicals industry, public health agencies, cancer charities, the cancer establishment, cancer and science research bodies, the breast cancer industry, big pharma, trade unions, and the entire corporate pink-driven industry to explain to all women who have had, who now have and who will have breast cancer:

WHY they persist in refusing to acknowledge the role of environmental and occupational toxicants and other factors of influence such as shift work, in breast cancer and

WHY they persist in ignoring decades of scientific evidence up to the present day – from organisations such as World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Union (EU) and many other respected scientific bodies – on which the link between our lifelong (womb to grave) exposures to toxic chemicals and substances and the escalating incidence of breast cancer, among many other diseases, is based?

We believe that it is by asking the one big fundamental question and by revealing the barriers to the advancement of breast cancer prevention policies and strategies (and many other diseases with proven links to environmental and occupational toxins), that we can help to build public awareness and support for the knowledge-based, people-before-profit, ethically sound and beneficial to people and environment changes we urgently need to see enacted from those with power and position to make them happen.

We welcome your interest and support for the work we are doing and we invite you use and to share any material on the website in accordance with the Creative Commons licence conditions on our home page.

Event: Cancer Prevention – A Toxic Tour (29 June 2013)

On the 29th June 2013, From Pink to Prevention organised a toxic tour in Central London. The tour took in various sites of significance in relation to cancer prevention – or rather the lack of action on cancer prevention by government offices and other bodies.

At each venue speakers addressed various aspects in relation to the total lack of action on the part of governments and the cancer establishment on the issue of the primary prevention of cancer (ie stopping it before it starts).  They discussed their work on the issue and posted up Blue Plaques announcing ‘Cancer Prevention does not live here’ at each site to commemorate the visit.

Continue reading Event: Cancer Prevention – A Toxic Tour (29 June 2013)