Breast Cancer: An Environmental Disease. In celebration of our dear friend and longstanding colleague Diana Ward, on Rachel Carson Day

Marking the life and legacy of our dearest friend Diana Ward, on Rachel Carson Day.

Every year, at this time, we at From Pink to Prevention campaign take time to mark the life of the extraordinary, visionary Rachel Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964).  Carson wrote and lobbied the USA government about the impact of toxic chemicals on the environment and human health.

This will be the first year we mark Rachel Carson day without our own extraordinary, visionary friend and campaigner, Diana Ward.

Diana covered so much ground in her writing, activism, art and travels.  In all ways, she was an ice-breaker and her analysis on the politics of breast cancer remains as incisive now as it was when she first started out on her journey to bring public awareness and political action to the issue.

In 2007, she was the lead author of the ground-breaking report Breast Cancer: An Environmental Disease – a document which was to be a foundation stone for a number of campaigns afterwards, including From Pink to Prevention.  Like Rachel Carson, Diana connected up the dots between our polluted environment breast cancer.  She too, did it in a way that was challenging to the status quo yet both accessible and immensely creative.

We lost our formidable, fabulous friend in January and we miss her immense knowledge, wisdom, imagination and humour.  We will continue to keep her fearless spirit running through all our work on this issue.

This was Diana’s tribute to Rachel Carson in 2017.  Here is our tribute to Diana.
Rest in Peace, dear Diana.



Breast Cancer Now, ASDA & Pink Till Receipts

We continue to put pressure on Breast Cancer Now to acknowledge environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer.  As the UK’s leading breast cancer research charity, we argue that it is incomprehensible that they continue to refute the body of evidence that makes just these links.

Just recently, we sent an open letter to both BCN and ASDA with regard to their ‘Tickled Pink’ and ‘Be Your Breast Friend’ campaign concerning breast awareness with pink till receipts as the communication tool. This campaign triggered a number of serious concerns about the use of certain ingredients in the ASDA pink and other till receipts and, linked to this, the various public ‘assurances’ from Breast Cancer Now about the science in relation to ‘chemicals in the environment” ie that there is no link to breast cancer risk.

Those expressing concern (in fact, disbelief) about the ASDA/BCN campaign included leading experts in the area of endocrine disrupting chemicals. Our open letter was co-signed with colleagues from Chemtrust, Challenge Breast Cancer Scotland and The Pink Ladies Cancer Support Group (Derry). You can read the full letter here.

Chemicals, exposure, regulation and Brexit

Our BCN/ASDA co-signatory Chemtrust recently gave oral evidence to the UK House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) inquiry into “Toxic chemicals in everyday life”.

The main chemical exposures for humans and wildlife come from emissions from everyday products, such as furniture and food packaging. Some of these exposures come from chemicals that are still being used, others come from chemicals which have been banned but are still present in products in our homes, or from persistent pollution of the environment.

The inquiry heard from the scientists about the huge challenge of there being 1000s of  man-made chemicals used in everyday products.

 “There is a huge number of chemicals in use. Most of them are in the environment and many of them are in you and me, to start there. As far as which chemicals should we be most concerned about, the simple answer is we don’t really know. ……….That is where we are, which makes it almost impossible to answer questions like: what should we be most concerned about? I wish I could.” Professor Sumpter, from Brunel University.

Impact of Brexit on chemical regulation in the UK

The Committee also heard views from the scientists on the impact of the UK leaving the European Union (EU) and the EU-wide chemical regulation REACH.

Professor Depledge said: “From my point of view, to follow the EU standards is probably an extremely wise idea for the UK to continue to do. ……but if the UK were to try to set up a similar organisation to ECHA or the European Environment Agency on that scale, I think we would struggle tremendously”.

The Committee expressed its own concern that when the UK leaves the EU the new UK chemical regulator would not replicate the technical and stakeholder committees that feed in to current EU chemical regulation. More here about why it is imperative that the UK stay fully within existing EU regulations known as REACH.

Lots more FPTP information to be found here, including our toolkit with posters, leaflets, films and reading lists.

Best wishes

Helen, Deb & Ho-Chih

From Pink to Prevention campaign
A TPNS Project.