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.

 

American Public Health Association Passes Groundbreaking Resolution on Breast Cancer and Occupation

APHA

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 endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and breast cancer while acknowledging that women working with these chemicals are particularly at risk. The declaration need to emphasis 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 despite decades of working womens 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. What do we need to do to have similar action on occupational and environmental breast cancer here? When are we going to see the elimination of endocrine disrupting chemicals from our workplaces?

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention has been calling for a new Cancer Action Plan which specifically addresses environmental and occupational risk factors  for breast and other cancers with targeted actions for those risk factors and specifically allocated funding. The plan needs to encompass social, economic and gender inequalities and would need to be rolled out across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland taking into account all countries specific cancer plans and strategies.

The APHA deserves much credit for backing this resolution and following up on the reports and statements referenced in the resolution which want to see breast cancer stopped before it starts.

A copy of the resolution can be downloaded here.

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

cancer MEPs briefing

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 Alliance for Cancer Prevention has been calling for the recognition of the environmental and occupational risk factors for some considerable time. These risk factors must form the basis of a new cancer plan . We are very heartened to see others echoing our call and very much look forward to working towards a cancer free future for all.

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.

 

 

 

Say No to Hormone Disrupting Chemcials

Say no to hormone disrupting chemicals EN bannerA new campaign platform has been launched to help EU citizens input into the public consultation on hormone disrupting chemicals or EDCs. These harmful chemicals can be found in a myriad of different products we come into close contact with each and every day whether at home, work or in the wider environment. They have the ability to build up in our bodies and scientific evidence links exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals to breast or testicular cancer, fertility problems, diabetes and obesity as well as learning and behavioural problems in children. We do not need these chemicals in our lives any more.

Now is the time to SAY “NO” TO HORMONE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS found in our food, cosmetics, homes, work places, schools, hospitals and many more!

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Send a strong message to the European Commission in less than 2 minutes!  Help us push back against the industry lobbying that may otherwise weaken action on hormone disrupting chemicals at the expense of people’s health, the environment and wildlife!

This is the only chance you will have to directly give your opinion and to make yourself heard in Brussels. Use it!

Tell the European Commission now that you want to find and remove all hormone disrupting chemicals from our lives to protect our health! Take Action here via our easy to use online platform to answer the consultation! http://no2hormonedisruptingchemicals.org/en

Information release on EDCs

Press Release from EDC Free Europe

Principles for transparency, excellence and independence in scientific advice to the European Commission

In August 2014 a coalition of NGOs including the Alliance wrote a letter to the President-elect of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker, questioning the role of Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) to the EU Commission. The intention of the letter was to stimulate debate about how scientific policy advice was structured and to highlight the risks in concentrating the power of delivering this advice into the hands of one person via the role of CSA. Vested interests realised long ago this role makes it easier to control. The UK is one of the few remaining EU countries which maintains a CSA post.

The EU CSA post was abolished in November amind allegations from various sources in the UK and beyond of this being ‘anti-science’, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The NGO coalition drafted another letter outlining a set of common principles for excellence, independence and transparence. These we believe can improve and inform existing scientific advisory institutions and processes, as well as the new scientific advisory structure the EU.

The principles outline the importance the NGOs place on unbiased, well balanced and current science advice given as a vital tool to aid and inform EU policy. But sometimes science on its own may not be able to fully determine the right course of action. Other societal factors must be considered along with a precautionary approach when there is uncertainty in relation to the health and safety of the EU citizens.

The alliance thinks that current lack of consideration given to, and therefore action taken on new and emerging science covering issues like EDCs, other chemicals, substances and work practices linked to the increasing rates of workplace and environmental cancers has contributed to the rising rates of cancer. We are very concerned that further scientific advice be given through an open and transparent process, and that the most current, unbiased and well rounded sceintifi advice must be taken when determining health and safety. After all our very health depends on it.

More information on the issue available here.



 

The need for independent, objective and transparent scientific advice to the EC should be self evident

letterletter sent on the 19/8/14 to the President-elect of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker signed by 25 NGO’s asked for the post of Chief Scientific Adviser be abolished.

The letter is a follow up to a previous letter expressing concern that the post is: “fundamentally problematic as it concentrates too much influence in one person, and undermines in-depth scientific research and assessments carried out by or for the Commission directorates in the course of policy elaboration”.

Scientific advice given to the president by the current CSA is not publically available making the process un-transparent. The signatories support the principle that scientific advice should be independent and objective, and the process transparent. NGOs are worried that by placing all the onus on one person for the whole of EU policy, this would make the principle difficult to uphold.

“The influence of corporate lobbyists is made even easier by the fact that the CSA of the European Commission has no obligation to publish the advice given to the President,” the NGOs say.

Among EU countries, only the UK maintains the position of CSA as a full-time government office.

Policy should not be swayed by vested interests, and the scientific resources consulted to inform decisions on the health and well-being of EU citizens and workers should be made available along with the advice given, in a spirit of democracy. The need for independent, objective and transparent scientific advice to the EC should be self evident.

Greenpeace has issued a press release on the issue and there is a press piece on the letter from Euractiv here.

 

Monumental ruling on Diesel fumes and Lung cancer

From Risks Newsletter by Rory O’Neill

A decision to award compensation to the widow of a bus maintenance worker who died of diesel exhaust-related lung cancer has been hailed as a ‘monumental’ breakthrough by his union.

Anthony Nigro, a member of Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) Local 100 in New York, USA, died a few months after retiring in 2012. His oncologist told his widow, Dorota, he believed diesel exhaust exposure in his 28 years working for the New York City Transit Authority was the cause of his cancer.

Lawyer Robert Grey, who filed a workers’ compensation claim on behalf of the family, said this is “the first case where a Workers’ Compensation Board, or any other court, has recognised the cause and effect of diesel to occupational disease.”

The company contested the claim, noting the victim’s history of smoking. But an expert providing testimony for the family said his job provided “ample exposure… to diesel exhaust emission.” The expert witness said that while smoking was also “a likely contributor” to the lung cancer, the diesel emissions were “more likely than not a significant contributing factor in causing or aggravating” Mr Nigro’s illness and death.

In a judgment that is not being contested by the firm, Judge Jay Leibowitz ruled in favour of the family and awarded them a weekly benefit of $773, $100,000 in backdated benefits and $6,000 in funeral expenses.

Dr Frank Goldsmith, director of occupational health for the TWU local, said: “This case is really a monumental decision. It’s reminiscent of where we were with asbestos in the 1970s.” He added: “We need to find out more about diesel and cancer trends among transit workers. We need to know how many of our members have been stricken by lung cancer, and target which job titles those cancers came from.”

The family of a Canadian miner who died of diesel exhaust linked lung cancer was awarded compensation last year. In June 2012, an expert panel convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified diesel fume as a top rated ‘Group 1′ carcinogen.

A study published in 2013 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives concluded almost 5 per cent of lung cancer deaths in the United States and the United Kingdom may be due to workplace exposure to diesel exhaust.

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Cocktail of pesticides found in french children’s hair

spraying vines
Generations Futures have done a number of studies on pesticide usage in France and the resulting impact on those who work in vineyards or live nearby.  Recent tests on children’s hair samples from those living or attended schools near to vineyards found a cocktail of pesticides some of which have already been banned.
30 children were tested for 53 pesticides suspected of being endocrine disruptors, 21 residues were found in the hair samples. The English version of the press release can be found here. Media piece.
Farmers and workers exposed to pesticides formed a group L’association Phyto-Victimes and produced a film: Death is in the Meadows about the affects of pesticides on farmers, their families and communities. Media piece.
Previous tests on 40 bottles of EU wine found on average each wine contained pesticides concentrations up to 230 times higher than would be legally allowed in drinking water. You can read the report here.
We should be eliminating these hazardous pesticides in our food and drink chains. And maybe its time to persuade french wine growers to go organic and protect the health of vineyard workers, nearby communities and their children and the consumer.