A link in plastic use, cancer?
By Sara Frost Azzam/ Guest Columnist/Wellesley Townsman
Earlier this year, the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project presented an editorial regarding dangerous substances that may be found in personal care products. Due to the significant interest in this issue, this past week, the WCPP hosted a program at
Our speakers, Dr. Carlos Sonnenschein and Dr. Ana Soto, renowned scientists from the Tufts University School of Medicine, are interested in cancer and cell proliferation. During the course of their experiments, they accidentally discovered the estrogenic properties in plastic laboratory tests tubes. Among other problems, estrogens can cause birth defects in both boys and girls, and can also cause cancer. These same estrogens are found in many types of plastics that we use in our everyday lives.
Sonnenschein and Soto have determined that Americans
are increasingly being exposed to chemicals that have not been tested for
safety. They spoke about the Precautionary Principle, which is practiced by the
European Union, but is not practiced in the
One of the key questions asked at the forum, was "What can we do?" We have two responses to that question.
The first is: Be Informed. There are many Web sites that provide information about health risks. One good example is the National Institute of Health's Web site that provides easy-to-understand information about the potential health effects of more than 2,000 ingredients contained in many household products. The Internet site is: http://www.householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov" and the information gives a more in-depth look at some of the warnings that are posted on household products that we often ignore. This information demonstrates potential hazards about the products we use and how they can affect our health and the health of our families, friends and neighbors. The information that this Web site provides is not necessarily conclusive; however, this information can help you decide whether or not you are comfortable taking certain risks, especially when there are alternative products available.
second response to "What can we do?" is: Get Active. The
other states, notably
In closing, I leave you with this piece of information: In March 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency released new guidelines on how its scientists should assess the cancer risk posed by environmental pollutants. The last time the EPA revised the cancer guidelines was in 1986. Why did it take almost 20 years when we all know cancer is on the rise, and has been during that 20-year time span? Maybe it is time to urge for national legislation that supports the premise of the Precautionary Principle, like the European Union has done, and like Drs. Sonnenschein and Soto urged in their presentation.
This was submitted on behalf of the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project. Sara Frost Azzam is chairwoman of the group.