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Natural Foods Merchandiser

As new alarm bells link chemicals and cancer, medical mainstream advocates organic

Carcinogens and toxins from food, water and the air expose Americans to “grievous harm” due to outdated laws and weak regulation, the President’s Cancer Panel said in a 240-page report released May 6.

“The true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. 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 understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread,” said panel members Dr. LaSalle Leffal, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the MD. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, in a letter to President Barack Obama.

The advisory panel placed particular emphasis on the acute risks of environmental exposure to children. “To a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted,’” the panel said.

The panel, quoted in the New York Times as the "Mount Everest of the medical mainstream", recommended that consumers choose “food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues. Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones and toxic run-off from livestock feedlots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.”

The Organic Trade Association praised the report.

OTA is gratified to see a prestigious scientific panel recognize what the organic farmers and the organic community have realized about environmental health and organic agriculture for decades, and we applaud them for taking on this critical issue,” saidOTA Executive Director Christine Bushway in a statement.
“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.”

Among the panel’s recommendations:

  • Remove shoes before entering the home to avoid tracing in toxic chemicals such as pesticides

  • Filter tap water

  • Microwave food in ceramic or glass instead of plastic containers

  • Reduce radiation from X-rays

  • Check radon levels in homes

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

The report could add weight to California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposal to ban BPA from food and beverage containers.

The panel singled out BPA as one substance that remains unregulated “despite the growing link between BPA and several diseases, including various cancers.” the panel also said the public should be made aware of the dangers of manufacturing by-products such as formaldehyde and benzene from car exhaust.

See the full report here.

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