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President’s Cancer Panel concludes organic is safer

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A major new report by President Obama’s Cancer Panel concludes that eating organic food is an effective way of reducing exposure to dangerous chemicals.

‘Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now’ represents a full year’s work for the Panel, described by the New York Times as the “Mount Everest of the medical mainstream”. The report’s publication is being seen as a high-level call to action to reduce environmental cancer risk in all its insidious forms.

The report shows that despite overall decreases in incidence and mortality, 41% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lives and 21% will die from the disease. The President’s Cancer Panel is concerned that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been “grossly underestimated”. The report’s Introduction notes: “With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread.”

The report says American people are “bombarded continually with myriad combinations of dangerous exposures” to chemicals and electro-magnetic radiation. It sets out a series of recommendations, at both policy-making and individual citizen levels, to reduce exposures.

The Panel’s overall key policy recommendation is that a precautionary, prevention-oriented approach should replace “current reactionary approaches to environmental contaminants in which human harm must be proven before action is taken to reduce or eliminate exposure”. The report also calls for full assessment of workplace exposures, more research into in utero and childhood exposures, and the promotion of ‘green chemistry’ and better testing of new products and technologies.

Recommended actions for individuals include:

• Removing shoes before entering the home to avoid carrying in toxic chemicals such as pesticides.

• Filtering tap water

• Microwaving food in ceramic or glass instead of plastic containers

• Using stainless steel, glass or BPA-free plastic water bottles

On food, the report says: “Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.”

Welcoming the report, Christine Bushway, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, said: “Organic production and processing is the only system that uses certification and inspection to verify that these chemicals are not used on the farm all the way to our dinner tables.”

• ‘Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now’ is available as a PDF from http://bit.ly/dknqlw

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