It’s Time to Change How We Talk (and Think) About Cancer

By the end of this year, nearly 1.7 million Americans will have been diagnosed with some form of cancer, and almost 600,000 will die. More than one in three Americans will contract cancer over their lifetimes. Those statistics are startling and unacceptable. Yet roughly half of all cancers are preventable, by taking actions in our daily lives that can stop cancer before it starts.

Some of these prevention methods are common knowledge: don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol, exercise, and eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, instead of one filled with red meat and other heavily processed foods.

But beyond diet, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition to cancer, there is another pathway that clearly contributes to this public health epidemic: exposure to toxic chemicals.

The Environmental Working Group has been a leading voice on behalf of environmental health and the impact chemicals have on people for more than two decades.  

Our research has spotlighted the presence of carcinogenic chemicals in everyday consumer goods, personal care products, children’s toys, drinking water, food and even in the blood of babies in the womb.

Last year, EWG released a report, “Rethinking Carcinogens,” in conjunction with new groundbreaking research on chemical exposures and cancer conducted by the Halifax Project. a collaboration of hundreds of cancer researchers and scientists from around the world.

The findings of the Halifax Project add to long overlooked evidence that combinations of chemicals – ones that don’t cause cancer on their own – likely contribute to the burden of cancer.

In response, EWG has launched a new Cancer Prevention Initiative.  On May 3, EWG hosted a symposium in San Francisco focusing on rethinking the role of the environment in cancer prevention and diagnosis.

The Cancer Prevention Initiative website offers the cutting-edge research from leading experts and thought leaders, and provides people with helpful tips to reduce exposure to the chemicals that can trigger the disease to begin with. So much cancer is avoidable, and EWG is working alongside many others in putting cancer prevention within reach.