WASHINGTON, May 7 (UPI) — A government report on chemicals in the environment may divert attention from larger cancer causes such as smoking, The American Cancer Society said.
The report published Thursday by the President’s Cancer Panel is “unbalanced” in its implication that pollution is a major cause of cancer, said Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist with the cancer society.
“If we could get rid of tobacco, we could get rid of 30 percent of cancer deaths,” Thun told The New York Times in a story published Friday.
The government’s 240-page report said the proportion of cancer cases caused by chemical exposure has been “grossly underestimated.”
The panel said it cannot quantify the cancer risk from chemicals because most of the 80,000 chemicals in use have not been tested for safety. But the society says only about 6 percent of cancers comes from chemical exposure.
The panel urged President Barack Obama to strengthen research and regulation and warned consumers to limit exposure to pesticides, industrial chemicals, medical X-rays, vehicle exhaust, plastic food containers and excessive sun. Children are at the greatest risk, it said.
Carcinogens and other toxins in food, water and air “needlessly increase healthcare costs, cripple our nation’s productivity and devastate American lives,” the panel said.
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