London, Saturday 29th June 12-2pm The Alliance for Cancer Prevention and Tipping Point Film Fund in association with The Organic Pharmacy have come together around a programme of events designed to increase the debate and public awareness on the links between breast cancer, the workplace and the wider environment. These events have included two film screenings of PINK RIBBONS INC – one hosted by TPFF and most recently, by the Organic Pharmacy. As part of the Pink to Prevention programme of activity, on Saturday 29th June we are organising a walk with a difference… Cancer Prevention: A Toxic tour. The locations will be centred on the Victoria and Westminster area of London and will have a particular focus on breast cancer.
Audio, transcripts and photos of the tour is available here.
The Walk – what is a ‘Toxic Tour’?!
No running, no fundraising- just a ‘what do you know?’ tour giving you the lowdown on why we need to tackle environmental and occupational links to a disease that affects an increasing number of women of all ages. The alternative tourist-health walk takes in green spaces, shops and parliament. It will give you a whole new perspective on how you can learn more and influence the key players in the breast cancer debate in the effort to get them to take on board a much ignored aspect – the environment around us, from our first environment the womb, through our work and lived environments. By address the issue of breast cancer prevention we will look at all cancers connected to environmental and occupational exposures The notion of the ‘toxic tours’ originated in the USA with tours held annually in San Francisco and the ‘bucket brigades’ which held tours to test the air quality around nearby industries which was harming community health. The tours advocate for civil rights and environmental justice. The first ‘toxic tour’ in the UK was organised by Helen Lynn and the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) and held in London. Subsequent tours were held in Wales with WEN Wales and Scotland in conjunction with WEN Scotland. This is the second tour of this kind in London, linking environmental and occupational links to cancers in general and breast cancer in particular.
The route will cover your daily life; the wider environment; the workplace and the political dimension to this debate. It will take place in green spaces, shops, government departments and parliament; and finally, the Emmeline Pankhurst Statue in Westminster. It will last approximately 2 hours and starting point is Christchurch Gardens, Victoria by the Suffragette Statue for 12 noon. The tour will leave commemorative blue plaques to mark our visit illustrating that cancer prevention does not live in the related tour visit sites.
The walk is free, but we need RSVPs in advance if possible. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with email subject: RSVP Toxic Tour.
Speakers and Contributors
Prof Andrew Watterson (University of Stirling) Prof. Watterson is the Director of the Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research, at the University of Stirling, Scotland where he also heads up the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group. His interests include occupational cancer prevention, fracking and biomass hazards, regulation of hazards and risks, costs of occupational diseases, PAR and lay epidemiology. He has acted as an adviser to the World Health Organisation and is on the editorial boards of IJOEH and Environmental Health.
Dr Ana Porroche-Escudero Ana is a dedicated activist and educator on gender and health. She has initiated workshops and campaigns on gender violence and is fascinated by the powerful combination of activism, art and innovative methods. She is a member of the Breast Cancer Consortium Advisory Board which is an international platform dedicated to changing the conversation on breast cancer through public and scientific discussions. She is currently organising a series of sessions on Breast Cancer Awareness in Brighton and recently showed the film Pink Ribbons Inc there along with other committed activists. She is an associate tutor at the University of Sussex.
Helen Lynn (Alliance for Cancer Prevention) Helen has campaigned on cancer prevention since 1995 and is a freelance campaigner/ researcher at Wildcard Research. She worked as Health Co-ordinator for 12 years at the Women’s Environmental Network and as co-director. Helen has worked at local, national and international levels on issues connection women’s health and the environment they live and work in. She was co-founder of the Alliance for Cancer Prevention, which campaigns for the recognition of environmental and occupational risk factors for cancer.
Hilda Palmer (Hazards Campaign) Co-ordinator of Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, Chair of Hazards Campaign and facilitator of Families against Corporate Killing (FACK). Hilda organises the annual Hazards Conference which is the UK’s biggest educational and organising event for trade union safety reps and activists. Hilda works and campaigns tirelessly against injustice, and for equality, better health and safety at work, in the environment and community.
Maria Arnold (Client Earth) Maria works at ClientEarth, leading the Healthy Air Campaign which combines work to engage communities at the local level with policy advocacy at a UK level. Previously Health Policy Analyst at the Sustainable Development Commission, she has worked to embed sustainable policy and practices within the NHS and Department of Health, with a particular emphasis on the link between health and the environment. She has also managed environmental and public health projects at Southwark Council.
Nick Mole (PAN UK) Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) is the only organisation that works on every aspect of global pesticide issues including threats to the environment and human health from their use. He is the policy officer with PAN UK. He works on UK and EU issues that includes trying to stop the use of bee toxic pesticides, encourage London’s parks and green spaces to go pesticide free and advise the public on health issues related to pesticide exposure.
Deborah Burton (Tipping Point Film Fund) Deborah co-founded TPFF in 2009 to provide support to theatrical feature documentaries, with integrated campaign outreach on global issues and has worked on the breast cancer prevention issue for many years.
The Alliance for Cancer Prevention
Formed in 2009, the Alliance is a multi-stakeholder group which includes representatives from; NGOs, environmental and occupational health organisations, trade unions, public health advocates and civil society groups, working together on cancer prevention. The Alliance aims to challenge the existing perception of control and treatment of cancer being the best way forward and get equal recognition for primary prevention. We work to ensure that the cancer establishment acknowledges the environmental and occupational risk factors for preventable cancers. Alliance members campaign on issues independently and join together to work collectively and strategically to identify the interconnection between the environmental, occupational, social factors and the combined exposures.
The Organic Pharmacy was founded by Margo Marrone – a pharmacist and homeopath who first became aware of chemical overload on the human body during the 1990s. She opened her first Organic Pharmacy store in London in 2002 to address this ever growing concern about harmful chemicals in cosmetics and built the business on the principles of honesty, integrity, purity, quality and green environmental thinking. Ten years on it is still a family run business and one that has supported campaigns addressing environmental links to breast cancer.
From Pink to Prevention ~ what do we mean?
Despite the overwhelming presence of the Pink Ribbon and all its (global) attendant activities, environmental and occupational links to breast cancer struggle to be included in the debate. Why is this? What stands in the way of these critical elements being discussed? As the disease reaches ‘epidemic’ proportions where more and more women face a diagnosis of breast cancer and far too many women lose their lives to the disease, are we doing the very best we can to ensure the debate addresses ALL possible causes of the disease? The time has come for all the key players – cancer charities, industry, drugs companies, the medical fraternity and government (whom many campaigners and authors describe as ‘the cancer establishment’) to recognise and acknowledge the role of environmental and occupational factors in this complex disease. This means doing something about it. The Alliance for Cancer Prevention wants to see environmental and occupational risk factors for breast and other cancers included and addressed in the National Cancer plans and strategies on cancer throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Why a ‘ toxic tour’ now?
We want you to take a tour through the dark and murky back streets of breast cancer politics. Learn about why rates of the disease have risen by 90% over the last 40 years yet little is being done to prevent it. Gain a new perspective on why certain occupations carry with them an increased risk of breast cancer, up to 5 times the average rate. Hear about why breast cancer is a 21st century disease, an epidemic of our time and how it is related to not just our lifestyle – which accounts for less than 30%-50% of the cases – but is connected to a cocktail of toxic chemicals that begins through exposure in the womb and persists forever after – pre and post birth in our living and working environments. Wonder why this 21st century disease is still being addressed with an 18th century solution, question who is financially benefitting from breast and other cancers and investigate the long-standing inaction on this issue by the cancer establishment. Boldly go where no one has gone before and understand what primary prevention means and how a life-long low level exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals, carcinogens, and other chemicals and substances linked to breast and other cancers need to be more widely known about and acted upon.
Audio, transcripts and photos of the tour is available here.
There are many ways to get more involved in learning about environmental and occupational links to breast cancer. Everything from simply informing yourself better, through to thinking twice about the products you buy, to taking action, as a concerned worker, consumer and citizen. LEARN MORE Read about the history, politics, economics, and social aspects of breast cancer and the health care system
Pink Ribbons, Inc. by Samantha King is a good place to start.
A list of books and essays by Breast Cancer Consortium that address breast cancer as personal, political, and social. http://breastcancerconsortium.net/resources/further-reading/
A good list of reports, books, films about breast cancer and its prevention by Alliance for Cancer Prevention. http://allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk/resources/
Evaluate health news stories with a critical eye. Health News Review provides excellent criteria on what consumers need to know in stories on treatments, tests, products, and procedures and why. COSMETICS: Organic Pharmacy Pay attention to what is in the products you buy — to check out cosmetics ingredients.
Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum [PDF]
Breast Cancer Fund: Which Chemicals Are Linked to Breast Cancer? > Cosmetics
Women’s Environmental Network (WEN)’s Careful Beauty Checklist
CONSUMER AND OCCUPATIONAL: Alliance for Cancer Prevention Find out about issues linking cancer to exposures in the home, workplace and wider environment
Hazards magazine: http://www.hazards.org/diyresearch/index.htm
EDC Free: http://www.edc-free-europe.org/ (Endocrine Disrupting Chemical)
ChemTrust http://www.chemtrust.org.uk/breastcancer.php (EDCs and Breast Cancer)
PINKWASHING Think Before You Pink™, a project of Breast Cancer Action.
As well as getting more informed on all these issues you can also find out more about what your elected representatives are doing and try asking some basic questions!
- Ask your MP why environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer are NOT included in all national cancers plans and strategies right across England, Wales, Scotland Northern Ireland
- Write to your MEP voicing your concern about the lack of proper regulation in connection with toxic chemicals such as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) linked to breast cancer in consumer products.
- Visit the recommended websites for vital information on how you can take action and follow up campaign information.
Disclaimer: Please note this tour is a purely voluntary initiative, no funding was received to run the tour or none of those involved contributed anything to the event bar their time. All the speakers are contributing freely of their time and the organisers are all volunteers.