Monday, April 03, 2006

A Problem Of Epidemic Proportions

There is an insidious disease making the rounds. Its incidence is on the rise, it kills millions of people around the world annually, and those who survive often have to live with devastating consequences. Chances are, if you don't suffer this disease in your own lifetime, you know people who have. What is this disease? Avian flu? SARS?

No. It's cancer.

April is considered by the Canadian Cancer Society to be "cancer month." The CCS spends much of this time giving lifestyle advice for preventing cancer, and fundraising to promote research into treatments, and finding a cure. Yet, despite these campaigns, cancer is now the leading cause of death in the United States, and rates of cancer continue to rise, even among children, which rules out the possibility that cancer rates are rising as a result of an aging population. The World Health Organisation estimates that 7 million people die each year from the disease. Some who die from the disease do so after a prolonged period of suffering either from the disease itself or the treatments, and those who survive the disease often have to live with serious consequences. And despite following the steps to a healthy lifestyle according to the CCS, Canadian journalist Wendy Mesley was still diagnosed with the disease. Uneasy not only with her own diagnosis but with the sheer numbers of people who contract the disease, she did an investigation, and was shocked by what she found.

She found that what Dr. Samuel Epstein called the "cancer establishment" was more focused on treating the disease than on prevention. As people contract the disease, they require several treatments which can be expensive, and are major business for drug manufacturers. Some drugs may not even be covered under provincial health plans. As for the prevention angle, chemicals introduced into the envrionment in the last few decades have been linked to cancer, and that probably doesn't even include complex interatcions between chemical A and chemical B that can't be simulated in a laboratory. These chemicals are in many things, such as household cleaning and personal care products, things we come into contact with on a daily basis. Sometimes these ingredients aren't even listed on the product packages.

Yet like anything else, prevention is the key. Aside from the benefits of being healthy, it also reduces stress on the health care system. It's better if we can remove those things from our environment that cause problems. In addition to choices individuals can make, there is also a role to play for more regulations in terms of labelling and restricting carcinogenic elements. For example, the City of Brandon banned cosmetic pesticide use within city limits. One less thing we have to be exposed to. Why not use the opportunity provided by cancer month to learn about environmental contaminants and to reduce their presence in our environment?


At 9:00 PM, Blogger The JF said...

This is totally unrelated to your post, this is regarding the Babble strike.

Since I'm not a member of Babble, and I just signed up today (and I apparently can't post yet), you're pretty much the only person I can get this message to:

If ever you guys get banned or something, which I strongly doubt that you will, I just wanted to mention that I set up a forum at , just in case. I would hate for this progressive community to go down in flames, this would just make the people at Free Dominion too happy.

If you could pass the message to the others, that'd be great.


Post a Comment

<< Home