RACHEL CARSON DAY 27th MAY
Man has put the vast majority of carcinogens into the environment and he can, if he wishes, eliminate many of them. The most determined effort should be made to eliminate those carcinogens that now contaminate our food, our water supplies, and our atmosphere, because these provide the most dangerous types of contact – minute exposure repeated over and over throughout the years.
Silent Spring 1962
RACHEL CARSON marine biologist, writer and conservationist
In the year 1962, Rachel Carson was not only another breast cancer statistic, but the woman whose writing skills and scientific acumen shocked the world upon publication of ‘Silent Spring’ in which her research findings of irreversible reproductive and genetic damage to aquatic-life forms resulting from the use of pesticides were presented in her signature narrative style. Her attention to smaller aquatic life forms at the bottom of the food-chain revealed the multiplier effect for life forms at higher levels, with major predictable effects for we humans in our position at the top of the chain. The changes being observed and recorded by Carson were an early warning of the future scenario for all life forms. As such they still stand as the first scientifically-based predictions of both real and potential harm to life from manmade chemicals.
Fifty years on and the shocking difference between then and now is that there are many thousands more manmade chemicals being produced and released into the environment than the number developed by the smaller scale post-war chemicals industry of Carson’s time. Many of these are linked to breast cancer risk and right now there is a battle to ensure that post-Brexit UK remains within existing EU chemicals legislation (REACH), which is regarded as the best in the world.
The UK House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has today published the report of its inquiry on chemicals regulation after the EU referendum, which particularly focussed on the EU’s world-leading REACH system for regulating chemicals. The EAC criticise the UK Government’s lack of openness about its post-Brexit plans, and point out that most respondents want the UK to remain ‘as closely aligned to REACH as possible‘.
The EAC’s main conclusions
- The chemicals regulation framework established by the EU through REACH is difficult to transpose directly into UK law. Writing EU regulations into UK law could not be done simply by having a line in the “Great Repeal Bill” deeming REACH to apply in the UK. REACH was written from the perspective of participants being within the EU, with much of it also relating to Member State co-operation and mutual obligations, oversight and controls, and freedom of movement of products
From Pink to Prevention activities & toolkit this Breast Cancer Prevention Month
Dear friends, supporters and colleagues,
As we find ourselves mid-way through the global fundraising phenomena that is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we ask are environmental and occupational links to the disease ‘an elephant in the room’?
We want to draw attention to a breast cancer narrative that is excluded from the ‘pink’ limelight.
For decades now, scientists and activists alike have argued that the persistent exclusion of environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer (eg carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals) by government, breast cancer charities and industry is, at the very least baffling and, at worst, obstructing a basic public health right to know. We argue that the time has come for policy-makers to explain why they are refusing to acknowledge the evidence that links these risk factors to breast cancer.
Dear friends, colleagues and supporters,
As we continue our effort to ask The Big Question on environmental and occupational links to breast cancer, here are some links to our latest blogs and campaign updates.
MEETING WITH BREAST CANCER NOW
Earlier this month, Helen Lynn and Deborah Burton met with key Breast Cancer Now staff – Delyth Morgan (chief Executive) and Eluned Hughes (Head of Public Health and Information) to primarily discuss the reasons why their organisation (the UK’s leading breast cancer charity) persists in categorising environmental risks as doubtful along with the body of evidence that does link the two. We also wanted to ask if and when BCN could join with us and start to both accept and act upon the existing evidence (not least, share the information with the public who look to them for guidance). It was a constructive first conversation and we are looking forward to keeping the issue on their agenda.
Our latest blog about the meeting is here and our post-meeting follow up letter in full is here. Continue reading
In this October Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our campaign ‘From Pink to Prevention’ is trying to raise the level of debate about the much marginalised issue of environmental and occupational links to the disease. Sixteen campaigning organisations from England, Scotland, Germany, USA, Australia, Philippines, and several pan-EU networks have signed on to our statement which asks why, despite all the money raised, more and more of us are getting this disease?
In particular, we want to know why the breast cancer charities continue to focus solely on ‘lifestyle’ risk factors such as diet and exercise, while ignoring the potential 60% of breast cancer cases for which they have no explanation. What about the role of chemical, environmental and occupational exposures in this?
We argue that better diagnostics and treatment are not mutually exclusive with looking at how our profoundly polluted environment, homes and workplaces impact on our bodies and health – and we need action on this, if we are to heed the ‘precautionary principle’ .