UMass Lowell Report Links Environmental & Occupational Exposures to

September 20, 2005

  The University of Massachusetts Lowell today released a report that
  links dozens of environmental and occupational exposures to nearly 30
  types of cancer.

  The new study by the University's Lowell Center for Sustainable
  Production reviewed scientific evidence documenting associations between
  environmental and occupational exposures and certain cancers in the
  United States - marking the first time this massive body of material has
  been summarized in one, accessible document.

  "We need to pay attention to environmental and occupational risk
  factors," said Molly Jacobs, project manager.  "Known and preventable
  exposures are clearly responsible for tens of thousands of excess cancer
  cases each year.  It is unconscionable not to implement policy changes
  that we know will prevent sickness and death."

  "Environmental and Occupational Causes of Cancer:  A Review of Recent
  Scientific Evidence" shows that many cancer cases and deaths are caused
  or contributed to by involuntary exposures.  These include: bladder
  cancer from the primary solvent used in dry cleaning, breast cancer from
  endocrine disruptors like bisphenol-A and other plastics components,
  lung cancer from residential exposure to radon, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  from solvent and herbicide exposure, and childhood leukemia from

  "The sum of the evidence makes an airtight case for reconsideration of
  chemicals policies in the U.S.," said Dr. Richard W. Clapp, lead
  epidemiologist for the report and adjunct professor at UMass Lowell.
  "We need to follow the example of the European Union's REACH program,
  which prevents the use of known or suspected carcinogens when suitable
  substitutes are readily available."

  Despite notable gains in reducing incidence and mortality rates for
  certain cancers, the authors lament that cancer constitutes a growing
  burden on society.  They note that the mortality rate for all cancers
  combined (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) is the same today as it
  was in the 1940s and the annual rate of new cases increased by 85
  percent over the past 50 years.

  "Major cancer agencies have largely avoided the urgency of acting on
  what we know to prevent people from getting cancer in the first place,"
  said researcher Genevieve Howe.

  The report disputes the often-cited, 25 year-old analysis by Sir Richard
  Doll and Richard Peto that attributes only 2 to 4 percent of cancers to
  involuntary environmental and occupational exposures.  "Our review makes
  it clear that new knowledge about multiple causes of cancer, including
  involuntary exposures, early-life exposures, synergistic effects, and
  genetic factors, renders making such estimates not just pointless, but
  counterproductive," Clapp said.

  The full press release, Executive Summary, and report are available at:
  http://www.sustainableproduction.org/pres.shtml and
  http://www.cheforhealth.org <http://www.cheforhealth.org/> .