Category archives: News

Flawed and ineffectual Endocrine disrupting chemical criteria agreed by European Commission.

After years of delay and quibbling by the European Commission on how far it would go to protect EU citizens from Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) , the end results suggests not far enough! Up until now EDCs, which are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, infertility and allergies, have had no effective regulation despite the fact that they can be found in a variety of products we live and work with on a daily basis. Scientists and independent scientific institutes have submitted evidence and written to the EC to express their concern about the ‘unfit for purpose’ EDC criteria. But despite scientific concerns and a petition signed by almost half a million people the Commission has now produced and agreed flawed criteria to assess EDCs which will fail to prevent unnecessary exposure for citizens and workers.

The criteria simply don’t go far enough and set the burden of proof so high for EDCs it’s unlikely many will be identified and therefore exposure will continue. The text as it stands will also allow an exemption for certain pesticides which are designed to be endocrine disrupting to get thru the loophole.

Initially Denmark, France and Sweden complained of the high burden of proof in the commission’s proposal but France’s newly elected president Emmanuel Macron voted through the criteria despite outlining his concerns before the election. But according to Chemsec in a press release from the French Ministry of Ecology it said that in return for its vote France got the Commission to commit to a number of actions against EDCs. These include an EU-wide strategy for toys, cosmetics and food packaging, the immediate implementation of the new criteria to substances currently being re-assessed, and an additional 50 million euros for EDC research. In addition, France promised even more activities at national level.

Twenty-one member states voted in favour of the criteria, with the Czech Republic, Denmark and Sweden voting against. Hungary, Latvia, Poland and disappointedly but not surprisingly the UK abstained.

The EDC Free Europe Campaign is now calling on the European Parliament to reject these ineffectual criteria and to properly protect us from these harmful chemicals. The Alliance for Cancer  Prevention is so very disappointed by this lack of care by the EC which will see hundreds more suffer and die from largely preventable illnesses and diseases such as cancer due to EDC exposure. Especially after the many years of campaigning and the considerable scientific evidence weighted on the side of stronger criteria. This decision will have crucial implications for the future health of our children and the wider environment according to ChemTrust.

While individual EU countries can decide the health and wellbeing of their citizens are worth protecting and implement effective criteria –it’s unlikely we will see such progressive and prevention public health legislation from the UK government.

Press release from EDC Free Europe.

Alliance supports call to remove Pink Ribbon Blidfold and Ask the Big Question

Press Release
Remove the Pink Ribbon Blindfold and Ask the Big Question.

Embargo 10 am 1st October

16 international organisations and national groups have signed on to the statement prepared by From Pink to Prevention campaign, which calls on breast cancer charities everywhere to remove their pink ribbon blindfolds and ask why, despite all the money raised, more and more of us are getting this disease? The groups believe we are not getting the full picture on this breast cancer epidemic that has taken us from a 1 in 12 chance of a woman getting the disease in her lifetime in 1995, to a 1 in 8 chance today.

On October 1st, a social media action aims to urge breast cancer charities along with the people who raise funds for the cause each and every year to remove their pink ribbon blindfolds. This action draws attention to the Big Question: why do most breast cancer charities persist in refusing to acknowledge the role of environmental and occupational toxicants by ignoring decades of evidence up to the present day on the link between our lifelong (womb to grave) exposures to toxics and the escalating incidence of breast cancer?

Speaking for From Pink to Prevention Helen Lynn stated: “Seeking better diagnostics and treatment is not mutually exclusive with acting upon the evidence that shows how our profoundly polluted environment, homes and workplaces impact on our bodies and health. The ‘Precautionary Principle’ must be applied to this issue. All women need and deserve a full understanding of all potential risk factors for the disease that threatens women’s lives and health. Breast cancer charities should be leading on this, not refusing to acknowledge the evidence that connects it”.

Each October international funding in the hundreds of millions is raised for breast cancer ‘awareness’. Yet too many Breast Cancer Charities do not acknowledge the environmental and occupational risk factors for breast cancer, when the evidence is already abundant. Instead, prevention is focused solely on ‘lifestyle’ risk factors such as diet and exercise, while ignoring the potential 60% of breast cancer cases that remain unexplained by the commonly accepted risk factors alone. There is a deafening silence in breast cancer awareness campaigns about the role of chemical, environmental and occupational exposures for breast cancer. Internationally, less than 4% of the global research spending on breast cancer is spent on research into primary prevention of breast cancer and only 2% on exogenous (external) factors like chemical exposure.

Gayle Sulik from Breast Cancer Consortium points out: “The Breast Cancer Consortium highlights that diagnosis and treatment are important, but focusing solely on these aspects of the continuum of care — as most breast cancer awareness initiatives do– will not address the breast cancer epidemic at large.”

The World Health Organisation states that prevention (which is not the same as early detection) offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer. However, we do not see this fact reflected in most cancer plans and strategies. We, and the organisations that stand with us, want to see primary prevention (stopping the disease before it starts) equally addressed along with better treatment and care. We demand that those with the power to do so act on what we already know about the links between breast cancer and environmental and occupational exposures.

Gudrun Kemper from Breast Cancer Action Germany says: “As many millions of women are already hyperaware of breast cancer. There is no more need for any pink breast cancer awareness. What is now needed is a fuller more complete picture. Maybe it’s time to change the name of the month to Breast Cancer Prevention Month”.

Signatories

Alliance for Cancer Prevention: Helen Lynn – www.allianceforcancerprevention.org
Brighton Breast Cancer Action: https://brightonbca.wordpress.combrightonbca@gmail.com
Breast Cancer Consortium: Gayle Sulik – www.breastcancerconsortium.net
Breast Cancer Action Germany: Gudrun Kemper – www.bcaction.deinfo@bcaction.de
Breast Cancer Fund: Jeanne Rizzo, RN CEO and President
www.breastcancerfund.org
Challenge Breast Cancer Scotland: Moira Adams – http://www.challengebreastcancerscotland.org/
European Work Hazards Network: Kathy Jenkins – www.ewhn.eu
From Pink to Prevention: Di Ward – diward@frompinktoprevention.org
Hazards Campaign: Hilda Palmer – <hilda@gmhazards.org.uk>
Hazards Magazine: Rory O’Neill – editor@hazards.org
Onco Grrrls: oncogrrrls@gmail.com – http://oncogrrrl.blogspot.co.uk/
Philippine Breast Cancer Network: Danny Meneses – President – pbcn@iname.com – www.pbcn.org
Scottish Hazards Campaign: http://www.scottishhazards.co.uk
The Furious Amazons (Le Amazzoni Furiose): Grazia De Michele – graziademichele@googlemail.com
Tipping Point North South: Deborah Burton – <deborah@tippingpointnorthsouth.org>
Women in Europe for a Common Future: Sascha Gabizon – <sascha.gabizon@wecf.eu>

Notes to Editor:

  1. Overview of some of the scientific evidence on the links between breast cancer and environmental and occupational risk factors.
  2. Some key facts on the escalating incidence of breast cancer.
  3. Research paper: Sutton, P. California Breast Cancer Prevention Initiatives: Setting a research agenda for prevention. Reproductive Toxicology 54 (2015) 11–18.
  4. World Health Organisation – Asturias Declaration.
  5. A continually-updated, annotated bibliography of occupational cancer research produced. http://cancerhazards.org/
  6. Remove the Pink Ribbon Blindfold Petition.
  7. Information for action on removing the pink ribbon blindfold.
  8. Flickr group.

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

info@frompinktoprevention.or

 

Stirling breast cancer research shapes prevention policy with leading US health body

A ground-breaking resolution developed by University of Stirling academics on the elevated breast cancer risk faced by women in certain occupations has been adopted by the influential American Public Health Association (APHA), the largest public health organization in the world.

Dr James Brophy and Dr Margaret Keith of the University of Stirling’s Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group (OEHRG) were involved as initiators and co-authors of the resolution, entitled Breast Cancer and Occupation: A Need for Action.

The adoption of the resolution by APHA is a significant step in public health policy, highlighting the importance of primary prevention and renewed commitment to occupational health research in the United Kingdom and North America, where breast cancer rates are among the highest in the world.

Dr Brophy said: “Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women across the globe but the majority of women do not have the known or suspected risk factors, therefore more attention to the exposures and hazards faced by women at work is required.” More here.

 

Tackling occupational cancer should mean preventing it, not taking a ‘3 monkeys’ approach

Press Release

13/3/13

smaller poster copy (2)

Photo-op 8.30am Thursday 14th March, British Library, Gate No 5 Midland Road.

Campaigners against occupational and environmental cancer will hold a photo op outside the British Library, HSE conference on Tackling Occupational Diseases.  Women’s work-cancer is almost totally ignored by the HSE so campaigners will leave bras behind as a protest against the denial, delay and dithering that will kill more women from breast cancer especially.

Government, employers and the Health and Safety Executive are consigning thousands of workers to occupational cancer by their ‘3 monkeys’ approach to ‘tackling’ occupational disease.  Occupational cancer kills up to 18,000 men and women each year (1) yet action on prevention has been side-lined in favour of yet more research, and still work-related cancer in women is virtually ignored condemning more women to suffer and die.

HSE’s old fashioned, outdated approaches miss many modern workplace risks but especially ignore women’s cancers, specifically breast cancer, as researchers have recently shown (2, 3).  Campaigners will reinforce this point by leaving their bras outside the British Library as a protest against this approach.

“The Hazards Campaign has accused the HSE of dithering, denying and delaying over occupational cancer, and employers and government are also guilty of doing almost nothing on prevention for all work-cancers.  But this ‘3 monkeys’ approach is especially deadly for work-related cancer in women which has been completely ignored, under-researched and so much less likely to be targeted for preventative action.”  Said Hilda Palmer of the Hazards Campaign.

“Occupational and environmental breast cancer is largely preventable and we hope this strategic meeting organised by the HSE will call for that.  For female cancers, specifically breast cancer, not to act now in a precautionary way, applying existing knowledge to reduce the occupational and environmental risk factors could be viewed as an act of wilful neglect.”  Said Helen Lynn from the Alliance for Cancer Prevention.

Traditional approaches to try and regulate the amount of exposure to certain chemicals in occupational and environmental settings are unworkable in light of what we know about chemicals which interfere with our endocrine systems (the body’s messenger system).  These endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are intrinsically linked with cancer and act singularly and in combination to increase the risk of breast and other cancers.

WHO estimates that as much as 24% of human diseases and disorders are at least partly due to environmental factors including chemical exposures. The report states: “Many endocrine diseases and disorders are on the rise and the speed at which they are increasing rules out genetic factors as the sole plausible explanation” (4)

Recent research highlighting excesses of breast cancer in occupations such as agricultural, automotive plastics, and food canning industries found women workers had elevated breast cancer risk, up to 5 times higher than the controls in certain sectors such as automotive plastics (3)

And yet another paper on the issue stated: “Primary prevention of cancer of environmental and occupational origin reduces cancer incidence and mortality, and is highly cost effective; in fact, it is not just socially beneficial because it reduces medical and other costs, but because it avoids many human beings suffering from cancer.” (5)

The United Steelworkers union in the US has acted immediately on this research by alerting their members and calling for substitution, chemical law reform and health and safety improvements.(6)

Yet the UK cancer establishment continued to assure women there is no need to worry and falls back on the archaic and limited risk reduction strategy of better diet, more exercise and limiting alcohol. (7)

Hilda Palmer of the Hazards campaign says: “We want this HSE meeting to make publicly explicit the extent, and preventable nature, of all occupational cancers; that prevention must be prioritised by government, employers and the HSE; that exposure to all cancer risks must be eliminated or reduced to as low a level as possible, and that women’s cancer risks must now be targeted for prevention”

Helen Lynn. Alliance for Cancer Prevention 07960033687
www.allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk

Hilda Palmer. Hazards Campaign: 079298 00240
www.hazardscampaign.org.uk

Event photo here.

Notes to Editor:

  1. Burying the evidence Hazards Magazine.
  2. ‘This man knows all about cancer Article on the work of Simon Pickvance. Hazards 117, Rory O’Neill
  3. J. T. Brophy et al., “Breast Cancer Risk in Relation to Occupations with Exposure to Carcinogens and Endocrine Disruptors: A Canadian Case-Control Study,Environmental Health 11(87) (2012): 1-17, doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-11-87
  4. WHO/UNEP report on the State of the Science for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Report.
  5. Espina C, Porta M, et al. Environmental and Occupational Interventions for Primary Prevention of Cancer: A Cross-Sectorial Policy Framework. Environ Health Perspect. Advanced publication here.
  6. United Steelworkers Hazards Alert on occupational breast cancer.
  7. Does your job increase your breast cancer risk? Breakthrough comments on the recent research published in Canada that links occupation to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Here.

 

Press Release: WHO/UNEP strongly endorse need to regulate as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) identified as ‘global threat’.

 

WHO-UNEP report


Press Release:

Immediate release

Alliance for Cancer Prevention

20/2/13

WHO/UNEP strongly endorse need to regulate as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) identified as ‘global threat’.

A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) comprehensively reviews the state of the science on endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).  It outlines the very serious and immediate threat to human health and wildlife from EDCs and signals the urgent need for effective regulation and testing of these chemicals.

The report estimates that as much as 24% of human diseases and disorders are due at least in part to environmental factors which include chemical exposures. “Many endocrine diseases and disorders are on the rise and the speed at which they are increasing rules out genetic factors as the sole plausible explanation”.

The Alliance is concerned that the one of the most worrying assessments from the report is that we are only looking at the ‘tip of the iceberg’ on this issue. Some 800 chemicals are known or suspected of interfering with our hormones.  Yet only a small fraction of these chemicals have been tested.  We are exposed to EDCs through everyday contact in our workplaces or homes to certain plastic products, cosmetics, furniture, computers, toys, construction materials and other products, materials and goods. We are exposed through the food we eat, the water we drink and the very air we breathe. EDCs may also be by-products formed during manufacture or use of products or through the disposal and combustion of waste.

Current testing does not take into account our multiple and cumulative exposures to EDCs and the fact that their effects cannot be considered in isolation. Their impacts on our health are being observed across our lifespan from conception in the womb through to old age. With EDCs, there are no safe levels and the report states that “thresholds” should not be assumed.

Diseases and disorders induced by exposure to EDCs during development in animal model and human studies include: Breast/prostate cancer, endometriosis, infertility, diabetes/metabolic syndrome, early puberty, obesity, susceptibility to infections, autoimmune disease, asthma, heart disease/hypertension, stroke, Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease, ADHD and learning disabilities.

As the endocrine system regulates all our bodily functions, EDCs can interfere with normal body functions in multiple ways including impacting our metabolism, fat storage, bone development and immune system and this suggests that..” all endocrine systems can and will be affected by EDCs”, and these effects may be passed on to future generations.

The WHO report says that “‘it is critical to move beyond the piecemeal, one chemical at a time, one disease at a time, one dose approach currently used by scientists studying animal models, humans or wildlife. Understanding the effects of the mixtures of chemicals to which humans and wildlife are exposed is increasingly important”. EDCs can operate at extremely low unobservable levels and in combination. The strength of attraction of an endocrine disruptor to a hormone doesn’t equate to its strength as a chemical. Its potency or strength to affect our hormone system is dependent on many factors.

The Alliance believes the implications for public health are enormous, and for the focus of our work, cancer risk.  Currently addressed lifestyle risk factors for cancer will alone not curtail rising incidences and deaths, which will continue to escalate unless affirmative action is taken on EDCs. Neglect of the environmental and occupational risk factors for cancer skews research on cancer causation and with EDCs implicated in obesity their potential to affect even so called lifestyle factors for cancer is obvious.

The Alliance calls for an effective strategy on EDCs from the EU parliament taking advantage of the opportunity in March with the vote on EDCs in parliament. There is the potential to make history by making sure these harmful chemicals are removed from our homes, workplaces and wider environment.

How will this affect strategies to prevention cancer?

The WHO/UNEP report follows hot on the heels of another paper published in advance in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP), which is relevant in so far as the authors include the WHO Director of Public Health and the Environment.

That paper assesses “Primary prevention of cancer of environmental and occupational origin reduces cancer incidence and mortality, and is highly cost effective; in fact, it is not just socially beneficial because it reduces medical and other costs, but because it avoids many human beings suffering from cancer.”

“A substantial proportion of all cancers is attributable to carcinogenic exposures in the environment and the workplace, and is influenced by activities in all economic and social sectors. Many of these exposures are involuntary but can be controlled or eliminated through enactment and enforcement of proactive strategies for primary prevention.’

It concludes: ‘Currently, the almost exclusive focus of cancer policies in most countries is on secondary prevention (ie. early detection), diagnosis and treatment. Too little resources are devoted to primary prevention, which aims to eliminate or control exposures to environmental and occupational carcinogens… The prevailing approach is socially unfair and often unsustainable, especially in low and middle income countries.’ It adds: ‘There is sufficient evidence that primary prevention is feasible and highly effective in reducing cancer incidence.’

While the Alliance welcomes the WHO/UNEP report, we look forward to seeing action in response to the report’s call for reducing the exposures to EDCs by a variety of measures. Initiatives such as introducing Toxics Use Reduction Acts, promoting green chemistry and substitution, and a precautionary approach in regulating EDCs could be immediate responses. Coupled with a coherent and effective EU EDC strategy on banning, phase out and eliminating human exposure to EDCs. We are particularly interested in how the cancer establishment will address the issue of EDCs in all strategies to preventing cancer.

When we consider the far reaching consequences of inaction on EDCs, the platitudes in relation to other global threats pale into insignificance. Some say the threat is even greater than that of climate change, given EDCs ability to affect fertility, foetal development, the brain and behaviour. We are changing the very landscape of the womb and adversely affecting the abilities of future generations. Leaving aside the financial costs of inaction on EDCs, the human cost is unthinkable, to not act now is to be complicit.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention is a multi-stakeholder group which includes representatives from NGOs, environmental and occupational health organisations, trade unions, public health advocates and civil society groups.

T @Cancer_Alliance
E info@allianceforcancerprevention.org.uk
Tel: 07960033687

Notes to editor:

  1. State of the Science for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. Report can be downloaded here:
  2. Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are chemicals which can affect our Endocrine System (the bodies messenger system) and other bodily functions, which co-ordinates reproduction, development, growth, mood, and what happens in our cells to help our bodies and organs function normally.
  3. Current risk factors for cancer include: tobacco, diet and obesity, infections, radiation (both ionizing and non-ionizing, up to 10%), stress, lack of physical activity, hereditary genes, physical agents, chemicals, and hormones.
  4. Environmental and occupational risk factors are potential risk factors from exposure to certain chemicals, substances, or particles (either occupational or environmental) and absorbed in utero (pre birth) or through breathing, touching, and eating, which contribute to a cancer outcome by nature of their carcinogenic, mutagenic or endocrine disrupting abilities.
  5. Espina C, Porta M, et al. Environmental and Occupational Interventions for Primary Prevention of Cancer: A Cross-Sectorial Policy Framework. Environ Health Perspect.  Advanced publication here.
  6. Dr. Theo Colborn’s letter to President Obama, watch it here.
  7. Toxic Use Reduction. Replacing toxic substances with safer alternatives or processes. www.turi.org
  8. Sign the petition to get EDCs out of consumer goods: here

 

Denmark prohibits endocrine disruptors

In 2009 the Danish Consumer Council (DCC) started a campaign to ban endocrine disrupting chemicals in consumer products. So far Denmark has banned Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles and food packaging material  for children, 2 parabens (Butyl and Propyl) from cosmetic products for children under 3, and now, four phthalates in consumer products.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals/oestrogen mimics/xenoestrogens can be found in a wide rang of consumer products and can interfere/disrupt or prevent any aspect of our hormones action.  And as such have no place in consumer products, in our workplaces or our environment.

The Danish Government , urged by their consumer council, is taking prevention and precautionary action to ban phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals from consumer products  “The DCC has for a long time called for the use of the precautionary principle – the benefit of the doubt should protect the consumers and their health, not the chemical industry. Research on EDCs from the Danish Centre on Endocrine Disrupters clearly shows the need for caution“. Claus Jørgensen, Senior Policy Advisor at the Danish Consumer Council.

The ban covers “the import and sale of products for indoor use which contain one or more of the four phthalates and products which contain these substances in parts of the products which may come into contact with skin or mucous membranes” and does not not include phthalates found in medical devices, toys, cosmetics, and food packaging.

Does this mean that industry will have to manufacture specific products for sale in Denmark, or can we save them the trouble and push for a ban on all EDC’s in consumer products across the EU?

Newsletter from the Danish Consumer Council

 

 

 

 

 

HSE’s dithering, denial and delay on workplace cancer is deadly!

 Press Release for immediate use 21st August 2012 

HSE’s dithering, denial and delay on workplace cancer is deadly!

Workers enquiry needed to identify and eliminate all exposures to carcinogens.

The Hazards Campaign says the HSE intervention paper on occupational cancer to be presented to the HSE Board meeting on 22nd August in Bootle, while more detailed than the original rejected paper, “fails to acknowledge the actual scale of cancer caused by work(1). The paper is based on a fairy tale unrealistic view of the world of work today, ignores many known carcinogens, shows little interest in finding unknown exposures, underestimates the numbers of workers exposed and shows no sense of urgency to tackle this massive but preventable workplace epidemic. Because of the lack of action now, more people will develop occupational cancers and die from them in the future. 

Hazards Spokesperson says:

“Rushton estimates that work cancer kills 8,000 (5% of all cancers) or at least seven times as many workers as are killed by work injuries every year, and affects a further 14,000.  Hazards estimates, based on work by international cancer specialists, place the toil even higher at 12% of all cancers.  That is 18,000 deaths and over 30,000 cases of cancers related to work each year in GB (2).

Occupational cancer researcher Simon Pickvance warns: “The HSE has been in denial about work cancer for over three decades, depending far too heavily on epidemiology which is only capable of seeing widespread, long-established problems amongst large numbers of workers, employed for long periods of time, in large workplaces such as mines, mills and manufacturing. This is totally unsuitable for today’s, smaller and fast evolving workplaces with more complex, and diverse exposures.  It is incapable of picking up high risk exposures affecting smaller groups of workers.  We welcome HSE’s response to the detection of hazardous exposure to azo dyes in the engineering industry by members of Hazards Campaign, but this is just one of many such high risk groups that can be identified using mass participatory methods of relating workers’ exposures to case reports.  A fully participatory approach towards identifying exposure scenarios and methods for toxic use reduction must be the way forward. The Rushton estimates for the HSE continue to under count the number of workers exposed. On  diesel fumes exposure alone, it is simply incomprehensible that the well over a million workers who have a raised risk of a cancer because they work in diesel-exposed jobs become ‘over 10,000’ in HSE’s estimation – and a million is just a fraction of the total diesel-exposed workforce”.

Simon goes on to explain: “The HSE’s target organ approach is also very damaging as most carcinogens have a very broad spectrum but epidemiology is not clever enough to see it.  Real life workers’ bodies do not play by epidemiologists rules so that even quite large increases in common cancers are entirely and irretrievably invisible to traditional epidemiological number-crunching (3)  

The Hazards Campaign joins occupational cancer campaigners in demanding a workers inquiry to identify all workplace exposure to carcinogens and urgent action to enforce their elimination;  a spokesperson said: “We need proactive enforcement of existing legislation (4), and in the absence of reliable figures on numbers of people exposed (the underestimation of diesel-exposed workers is only the latest in a series of HSE blunders in calculating exposed populations) the over-dependence on the Rushton burden calculation (how much cancer is work-related ?),in setting priorities for action must stop.
Helen Lynn spokesperson for the Alliance for Cancer Prevention said: “The HSE approach to occupational cancer ensures thousands more people will develop the disease through exposures at work. Delaying action on better shift work patterns is just condemning more women to greater risk of breast cancer while there is action that could be taken immediately. Although the word ‘action’ is mention exclusively by the HSE in relation to naturally occurring carcinogens such as radon, there is no action on promoting substitution to known or suspected carcinogens when there are safer alternatives available as applies to the chemicals used in dry cleaning. The HSE scope for carcinogens should be widened to include all carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic chemicals and substances (CMR’s), and encompass those not only addressed in REACH but also listed on the SIN list” (5)

Campaigners argue that the response outlined in the HSE paper is based on a combination of dithering, denial, and delay. Their ‘wait and see’ approach and leaving the job up to other agencies, while they continue to do a little bit more of what is currently ineffective, is completely inadequate to the task of preventing work related cancers.

Simon Pickvance concludes:  “We are sick to death of being treated as second class workers in Europe, who can wait for preventative action till research is carried out, for example on shiftwork, when other member states have adopted a precautionary, pro active approach.  It is not more science that is required before more humane shift patterns can be introduced. HSE’s intervention strategy is based on ignorance, denial and a false view of work today, and its response to the biggest workplace killer is utterly pathetic. It is hard to see what will be achieved by more of the same without the active involvement of workers themselves in finding out where the main problems lie. What is needed is a picture of the risks we face in the jobs we do today via a Trade Union backed workers inquiry (6) to identify all workplace cancer exposures. Plus a massive preventive proactive enforcement of elimination, and an abandonment of the use of cost-benefit analysis in setting exposure limit for carcinogens in EU, as there are no safe levels of exposure to carcinogens”

For more information:

Graphic: http://www.hazards.org/images/h117cover1200px.jpg

Simon Pickvance Tel: 0114 268 4197

Hilda Palmer, Hazards Campaign  Tel: 0161 636 7557

Helen Lynn, Alliance for Cancer Prevention: Tel: 0207 274 2577, mobile 07960033687

Note for editors:

1. HSE supplementary paper on occupation cancer: Occupational cancer, priorities for future intervention – supplementary paper’  The initial paper was rejected by the HSE board in May 2012.

2. Hazards Magazine cancer pages: see Burying the evidence

3. This Man Knows all about Cancer:

Details Simon Pickvance’s criticisms of the HSE strategy on work-related cancer.   His criticism of the HSE supplementary paper include:
Silica Dust – No evidence for the HSE technical innovations on control.
Welding and Painting – no active involvement of workers in finding where the main problems lie.
Shift work – no action on safer working patterns only a call for yet more research.
Dry cleaning – no interventions on safer substitutes, only low cost ‘awareness raising initiatives’.
Epidemiology – focus from HSE is on widespread, long established problems while ignoring high risk exposures affecting smaller groups of workers.
Lack of participatory approach to risk detection – HSE fails to engage workers in identifying risk in their work places.
Lack of Toxic Use reduction methods – HSE ignores reducing exposure to existing and known carcinogens and setting targets for elimination.

4.COSHH- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.

5. Alliance for Cancer Prevention 

6. Workers Inquiry : The inquiry should be trade union backed, and involve workers in mounting an all-out search for carcinogens at work.  It must identify high risk groups within occupations/workplaces; and look at case studies, industrial hygiene and toxicological studies.  What is needed is a true picture of the risks we face in the jobs we do today, not something based on an out of date, fairytale world of work.

Is The HSE Keeping Women In The Dark On Shift Work Breast Cancer Link?

Working night shifts more than twice a week is associated with a 40% increased risk of breast cancer, found a long term study published online on 28 May in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Yet the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the cancer establishment leave women in the dark by taking a “wait and see approach” to this occupational risk factor for breast cancer.

The Danish research found that working less than three night shifts a week doesn’t affect your breast cancer risk, but that frequent night shifts for several years may disrupt biological rhythms and normal sleep patterns, and curb production of the cancer protecting hormone melatonin. Shift work also increases your rate of developing type two diabetes and obesity.

In a recent article in Hazards magazine, Simon Pickvance, a researcher based at Sheffield University and founder member of the Alliance for Cancer Prevention, voiced concern about why the HSE presumes to know better than the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention wants to see action to reduce these cases of occupational breast cancer and calls on the HSE to follow the example set by the Danish Government who offered compensation for those already working up to four nights over several years.

UNISON safety reps should demand effective risk assessments on shift patterns and ensure the least unhealthy patterns are adopted. Workers need information about the risk from shift work so they can make an informed choice about what they can do to lessen the risk.

Women worried about the risk from shift work for breast cancer should contact UNISON for advice.

For further information regarding shift work see UNISON’s negotiating on shift work bargaining support guide for workplaces representatives.

Cancer charity’s screening myth unveiled

Once again mammography screening is put under the spot light, this time it’s the US charity Susan G Komen overstating the benefits of mammography and ignoring the harm it causes. Authors of a BMJ Observations paper state:

“If there were an Oscar for misleading statistics, using survival statistics to judge the benefit of screening would win a lifetime achievement award hands down. There is no way to disentangle lead time and overdiagnosis biased from screening survival data.”

Professors Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwarz point out that the ‘lead time’ * and overdiagnosis means there is ‘no correlation between changes in survival and what really matters, changes in how many people die’.

The authors calculate the actual benefit from mammography is a reduction of only 0.07% percentage points for a woman in her 50’s dying from breast cancer over a 10 year period.

Overdiagnosis in the US means that for means that for every woman who’s life is ‘saved’ by mammography, around 2 to 10 women are over diagnosed. The risk from overdiagnoses (those women diagnosed that would never have developed symptoms or died from breast cancer) is women  receive invasive, potentially harmful and unnecessary chemotherapy, radiation or surgery.

The situation is similar here in the UK with regard to mammography been sold as to help reduce mortality.

“Early detection makes treatment more likely to be effective and helps to reduce mortality. By bringing forward detection and diagnosis, screening helps us find those cancers that might otherwise not be caught until later in life .”

The NHS screening program boasts a 45% rise in the number of women attending screening.

The figures from the UK cancer establishment state that that one life will be saved for every 2,000 women screened for 10 years. About 7 breast cancers are found for every 1,000 women screened as part of the UK breast screening programme.

What the BMJ paper does not go into is that mammography is radiation, a carcinogen even at low levels. Surely it’s about time we have safer and truly accurate detection methods for breast cancer and abolish the myth that screening saves lives and focus instead on primary prevention? When will we stop using carcinogens to detect cancer?

The BMJ Press Release can be found here

Link to pay per view paper

* The lead time in relation to breast cancer is compared to watching a train approach with binoculars, it doesn’t speed up the arrival, it just means you can see (diagnose) the train when its much further away

 

Breast cancer risk + women wor…

Breast cancer risk + women working in auto plastics parts industry @CdnWomensHealth research #JimBrophy #MargaretKeith http://t.co/SFz4RdDJ