Why We’ll Never Underestimate Environmental Toxins



Karuna Jaggar

Executive Director Karuna Jaggar



By Karuna Jaggar, Breast Cancer Action Executive Director

The American Cancer Society took issue with parts of our last post. I wanted to let you know how I responded–my thoughts are below. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

We have no dispute about the known health benefits of diet and exercise on reducing one’s risk for breast cancer; however, I have to take issue with your downplaying of the connection between exposure to environmental toxins and increased risk of breast cancer on two levels.

  1. Even those of us with access to an excellent pesticide and hormone-free diet and robust exercise plans are involuntarily exposed to a myriad of chemicals in our environment that are known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine disruptors that put women at risk for breast cancer.  These chemicals are found in our everyday environments: methylparabens in cosmetics and personal care products and BPA in baby bottles, food container linings, and even sales receipts to name just a few ways they surround us.  And this isn’t simply Breast Cancer Action’s point of view.  The President’s Cancer Panel clearly acknowledged in 2010 that the most direct way to prevent cancer is to stop putting cancer-causing agents into our indoor and outdoor environments in the first place.
  2. By only focusing on the benefits of individual diet and exercise, we lose sight of the social justice issues that limits access to affordable healthy food and regular exercise for many in our society. This last point is significant because unless we increase the focus of our attention around health inequities we fail to address the health of a growing segment of our population:  namely underserved women of color.

We strongly feel the best approaches are a combination of individual AND societal changes so that EVERYONE has the option of limiting their risk of getting breast cancer.  And although you question our use of the word epidemic, I’d say that after billions of dollars over the years has been raised to quell the tide of breast cancer with the result being a rising lifetime incidence from 1 in 20 in 1960 to 1 in 8 today, that’s an epidemic we best address. By Komen and ACS keeping to just the narrow actions of individuals we feel you’re only addressing a part of the picture.  While women are dying, we need a call for action that takes into account the whole picture of what we need to do to reduce breast cancer incidence – and it needs a lot more than a yearly mammogram, a piece of fruit and going for a run.

This entry was posted in BCA News.

4 Responses to Why We’ll Never Underestimate Environmental Toxins

  • Terry says:

    The ACS, as Dr Samuel Epstein has documented, doesn’t give a rat’s ass about curing breast cancer. It’s about MONEY. Most sponsors are BIG PHARMA. THERMOGRAPHY, approved by the FDA in 1982, isn’t recommended. NO RADIATION and yet NOT recommended. How can we NOT focus on PREVENTION? If breast cancer were cured, think of all the money lost. WE are only profitable HAVING cancer. Whether its cancer, diabetes, cholesterol, CHD etc. the non profits suck people in to the drugs and medical devices. Sadly, rather than make lifestyle changes, people take a ‘pill.’
    “Overdosed America,” written by a physician is a well-documented account of the BUSINESS of disease. Until WE demand changes, THEY will control our demise.

  • Lissa says:

    Strong response…great job! (love the last sentence)

  • More and more of our customers are breast cancer patients.

    I was astonished, when one of our customers asked me to look at the “natural” skin product her oncology nurse wanted her to use after radiation treatments. Right there on the label – in teeny tiny print – was a very powerful hormone inhibitor/disruptor. A KNOWN carcinogen, directly related with breast cancer.

    When our customer brought this to the nurse’s attention, the nurse became defensive and combative.

    The good news is our customer was smart enough to ask questions and courageous enough to buck the system, follow her instincts and use a what she knew was safe and more effective.

    I think the point of all of this is that it is very hard to contain a secret and control the population when we ALL keep asking questions, doing our own exhaustive research, and voting with our money and our feet.

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