Monday, April 30, 2007

Preventing Cancer

Cancer. It's a word that evokes terror, confusion and disbelief. Despite advancements in early detection, better treatments and longer survival rates, the number of new diagnoses continues to climb. Buried beneath the optimistic headlines in the Canadian Cancer Society's (CCS) 2007 Cancer Statistics, released earlier this month, is the hard reality that we are fighting a disease that continues to evade us.

According to the CCS website, "Despite largely stable or declining age-standardized rates, the total number of new cancer cases and deaths continue to rise steadily as the Canadian population grows and ages."

These numbers continue to rise, despite the multi-billion dollar cancer industry that wages war against the disease. While no one is denying the need for the very best treatment and care for those already diagnosed with cancer, imagine a world where our mantra is no longer, "Cancer can be beaten", but rather "Cancer can be prevented."

Clearly we need to rethink our battle strategy. The problem is that an estimated 90 percent of all cancer research dollars go toward either treating the disease, or looking for a cure. This is precisely why a new national organization called Prevent Cancer Now (PCN) has come together - to put the prevention of cancer first in government policy, in delivery of health services, and in the public's mind

Next month, Prevent Cancer Now and its chief partner, the Saunders-Matthey Cancer Prevention Coalition will be staging three amazing events to raise awareness and funds that will be dedicated to cancer prevention initiatives.

The first event is a four day conference to be held at the University of Ottawa, May 24 to 27, that will bring together some of the finest advocates for cancer prevention in the world, including many outstanding scientists. Cancer: It's About Prevention, It's About Time!will feature keynote addresses by Dr. Sandra Steingraber, renowned biologist, author, and cancer survivor, and Dr. Devra Lee Davis, author of When Smoke Ran Like Water, and Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. In addition, there will be 18 workshops and almost 40 speakers, focusing on issues such as toxic substances in the workplace, environmental justice, healthy homes, and electromagnetic radiation.

The second event, which will literally run concurrent to the conference, on May 26 and 27, 2007, is Run, Walk and Roll for Cancer Prevention. The goal is to raise $150,000 to help educate all Canadians about the full scope of the cancer threat, share viable strategies, and urge action on all fronts. The funds raised will go toward a number of projects, including the launch of the new book, Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic (New Society Publishers), which is the third major event of the weekend.

Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic, was authored by Liz Armstrong, co-author of Whitewash, Guy Dauncey, author of Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change, and Anne Wordsworth, an environmental researcher and writer, and former producer for CBC's Health Show. The book will be launched on Thursday, May 24th to mark the opening of the Conference, and will be available in bookstores in June.

For co-author Armstrong, the release of the book marks the end of years of research and marks a turning point in how we look at cancer.

"The book presents the problems and solutions which range from what individuals can do, to what all levels of government, business, labor, health professionals need to take action on," said Armstrong. "And we think we've managed to pull it all together in a way that is reasonably easy for people to understand."

Armstrong is a passionate advocate for cancer prevention and says that the steps that we've made to reduce mortality rates from cancer pale in comparison to the increasing numbers who will be diagnosed with the disease.

"When you're talking about the rates of cancer that we're currently seeing, these reductions are like saving a few lives on the Titanic," Armstrong said. "The much better news is that more than half of all cancers are preventable with the knowledge we now have."


For more information about the Cancer: It’s About Prevention, It’s About Time! conference or to register, visit

To sign up for the 2007 Run, Walk and Roll, or to sponsor someone who already has, visit,

New Society Publishers, publishers of Cancer: 101 Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic, can be found at

The Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007 can be found at


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this information. It does seem ironic at best, that 90 percent of money dedicated to cancer goes to searching for a cure, while 90 percent of cancers have an environmental component, that in theory anyway, should be preventable. For example, I hear daily about research on chemotherapy for lung cancer, and recent hopes that this can be individualized based on genetics and immune factors. At the same time, few Minnesotans are aware of or have had their homes tested for radon (a kit cost between ten and twenty dollars), an exposure that is expected to cause lung cancer in one in a hundred in this state, and the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Thanks for sharing the word about prevention!

Lynne Eldridge M.D.
Author, "Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time"

April 30, 2007 11:02 PM  

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