American Public Health Association passes ground breaking resolution on breast cancer and occupation

The American Public Health Association has passed a groundbreaking resolution on breast cancer and occupation calling on the U.S. Surgeon General to declare the association between known classes of chemicals including endocine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and breast cancer while acknowledging that women working with these chemicals are particularly at risk.

The declaration needs to emphasise the precautionary principle and highlight the importance of identifying workplace and other environmental hazards that contribute to elevated breast cancer rates. The resolution was authored by Dr. James Brophy, Dr. Margaret Keith, and Dorothy Wigmore from Worksafe, Inc.

Last year, Dr Keith and Dr Brophy from the University of Windsor, Ontario and Prof Andrew Watterson from the University of Stirling (all members of the OEHRG group at Stirling University) won an international award for their work on occupational breast cancer with two studies looking at women’s breast cancer risk in specific workplaces.

The APHA resolution calls on the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes for Health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other relevant federal agencies to:

  • Focus more on the etiologic and mechanistic pathways of suspect chemicals and breast cancer and chemicals identified as, or suspected of being, linked to breast cancer, particularly EDCs and mammary carcinogens.
  • Identify and investigate the causes of breast cancer in groups of workers in suspect sectors and workplaces or those who work with known and suspected chemicals.
  • Initiate special emphasis hazard surveillance programs to identify sectors and workplaces where breast cancer-linked hazards are present.
  • All initiatives need to incorporate green chemistry, toxics use reduction and informed substitution principles in their purchasing practices, to contribute to prevention and reduction of breast cancer in a life cycle approach that recognizes the power of purchasers.

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer diagnosis among women in industrialised countries, and rates in North America and Western Europe are among the highest in the world. But yet despite decades of their contribution to the workforce; women’s occupational health hazards continue to be mostly invisible, studied inadequately and infrequently.

This historic resolution should pave the way for urgent public health action world wide. We look forward to hearing the reactions  from our own public and occupational health agencies.

Press release from Stirling University.

Better regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals the only way forward cancer primary prevention

Effective regulation of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) represents an important opportunity for the primary prevention of hormone-related cancers, including breast, prostate and testicular an MEPs briefing at the EU parliament was told yesterday. The meeting was organised by MEPs Against Cancer, the Health and Environment Alliance and the Association of European Cancer Leagues and hosted by MEP Christel Schaldemose.

“Curbing exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals should become a central part of cancer prevention strategy in Europe,” said Wendy Tse Yared, Director of the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL). “It represents an exciting opportunity for prevention because reducing exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in our everyday environment may stop cancers before they start.”

Dutch toxicologist Dr Majorie B.M. van Duursen said: “We need to use every possible opportunity to prevent cancer so environmental prevention is important. Hormone-related cancers, especially of those of the breast and prostate, have been increasing in recent decades. Today, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in Europe, and prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men.”

Génon K. Jensen, HEAL Director, said: “Exposure to EDCs is a likely explanation of why cancers that are hormone dependent, such as many breast and prostate cancers, have been increasing in recent decades.”

MEPs Against Cancer include environmental pollutants, air quality control and endocrine disruptors as one of their key areas of action over the coming 5 yrs in order to strengthen cancer prevention policies.

The press release can be viewed here. And on the Association for European Cancer Leagues site here. And an article in The Parliament Magazine can be viewed here.

To the memory of THEO COLBORN

Scientist, Writer, Researcher, Activist

An outstanding visionary of our time

1927 – 2014

We honour her unstinting pioneer work in locating and identifying endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment and in carrying out research to increase the scientific knowledge base of their real and potential deleterious impacts on both human and wild life.

Read the obit from the Endocrine Disruptor Exchange and her video letter to President Obama about chemicals disrupting our bodies. And finally a link to her favourite quote please do read it and see why we have been so inspired by this amazing woman.

Media Release – From Pink to Prevention 16/12/14

A new campaign on breast cancer: environment, occupation & obstacles to getting both of these risk factors taken seriously in the breast cancer debate

FROM PINK to PREVENTION is a new breast cancer campaign that exposes the barriers to achieving ‘primary prevention’ – stopping the disease before it starts. Central to our campaign is one big fundamental question we seek to put to 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 want 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 the 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 toxics and the escalating incidence of breast cancer, among many other diseases, is based?

Over the decades, we and many others have been asking questions such as this and still await a satisfactory answer. We are deeply concerned about the consistent pushing of lifestyle factors as the main culprit behind the rising incidence of the disease. We are totally mystified as to why primary prevention is ignored in favour of addressing the 30% – 50% of breast cancer cases thought to be linked to our lifestyle – leaving 50-70% of cases unanswered.

We cannot understand why the environmental and occupational links to breast cancer have been totally marginalised.

We argue that the barriers to prevention – acceptance, confusion, fixation, ignorance, procrastination, invisibility, fear and vested interests – play a huge role in barring progress on primary prevention. We see the ‘pink’ takeover of breast cancer as aiding and abetting these barriers since 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.

Not when it displaces primary prevention.

We are convinced that it is by asking this one big fundamental question and by revealing the barriers to the advancement of prevention policies and strategies for breast cancer (and many other diseases with proven links to environmental and occupational toxics), 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.
Join us, help us, support us, like us and follow us, and help us overcome the barriers and get an answer to the big question.

1. About us
From Pink to Prevention is a new initiative formed by Deborah Burton from Tipping Point North South, Helen Lynn and Diana Ward of the Working Group on Primary Prevention of Breast Cancer. It draws on our campaigning expertise over the past two decades in raising public, media and political attention to the issues of environmental and occupational links to cancer – especially breast cancer
2. Links for further information
Evidence supporting the case to act on environmental and/or occupational risks to breast cancer.
Some Facts
3. Background to From Pink to Prevention

For More Information

Helen Lynn (UK) : +44(0)7960 033687
Deborah Burton (UK) : +44(0)7779 203455
Diana Ward (AU) : +61(0)400640144

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.


Stopping Breast Cancer Before It Starts. From Pink to Prevention asks breast cancer charities, government and industry to act upon the evidence linking environmental and occupational links to breast cancer.