The National Cancer Institute estimates that breast cancer will strike one in eight women over the course of a full lifetime. And while the medical establishment struggles to find a cure, Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston says that we should be looking to the environment to prevent the disease in the first place:
The National Cancer Institute estimates that breast cancer will
strike one in eight women over the course of a full lifetime. And
while the medical establishment struggles to find a cure, Great Lakes
Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston says that we should be
looking to the environment to prevent the disease in the first place:
Meryle Berge just died. Most people have never heard her name, let
alone understand what her death means. But I know. She organized the
first international conference on Breast Cancer and the Environment
and encouraged us to look at the link between our own health and the
world around us. She was one of those extraordinary people who turn
personal tragedy into a greater good.
When Meryle was diagnosed with breast cancer more than eight years
ago, she embarked on this incredible one-woman crusade to find out
what had caused her disease. She not only wanted to beat her own
cancer, but she wanted to prevent other women from getting it as
So Meryle started looking. She wanted to know if there was anything
in her everyday life that caused her cancer or could prevent her from
getting well. And she found that there was a link. She discovered
that average person today has at least 500 chemicals in their bodies
— none of which were found before 1920. She also found that many of
them are known carcinogens.
We don’t understand the cumulative effect of all these chemicals, but
we do know that cancer rates are increasing dramatically. North
America has the highest rates of breast cancer in the world. And
within North America, The Great Lakes Basin has the highest breast
But despite this growing body of evidence, the medical community
isn’t making the connection. They continue look at heredity links and
lifestyle choices like smoking and diet. They’re missing the
connection to environmental pollution. Meanwhile, endocrine
disrupting chemicals accumulate in breast tissue until one day when
one in eight of us will find a lump.
The thought of it scares me to death. But what scares me even more is
that we could be doing something to prevent this. We continue to pour
billions of dollars every year into cancer research and treatment,
while virtually nothing goes toward preventing the disease in the
first place. If we are to remember Meryle, and thousands of other
women like her, then we must shift our focus to environmental health
and primary prevention. Meryle would have wanted it that way.
Suzanne Elston is a syndicated columnist living in Courtice, Ontario. She comes to us by way of the
Great Lakes Radio Consortium.