Monday, October 8, 2012

Toxic Industrialists Play Cancer Roulette With Our Health

Treating, controlling cancer is a bloody, brutal battle for just about anyone - whether a young woman just diagnosed with breast cancer, or a man with prostate cancer. Wouldn't it be great if we could nip it in the bud and prevent all these cancers in the first place. (Right now, more than 99% of money, resources is being spent on treatments not prevention).

While many in the prevention line focus on fats in the foods that we eat, I have argued consistently that we are letting some of the biggest cancer producers on Earth get away with bloody murder in doing so. We're taking our eyes off the ball just focusing on "animal fats'. I am talking, of course, of the massive Toxic chemical industrial complex which is so powerful it has most of our politicos by the proverbial balls.

Don't believe me? Consider: One of the most insidious chemical carcinogens permeating our water and air is arsenic - chemical symbol As. Arsenic in food deserves some special concern, and yet there are no regulations limiting it. In addition to arsenic used in industry that finds its way onto farms, there is arsenic used in agriculture that the farmers themselves bring to their farms, a practice almost dating back to the Civil War.

Before Rachel Carson exposed the chemical evils of DDT in "Silent Spring",  the first synthetic pesticides were arsenicals. An arsenical paint pigment called Paris green was first used against Colorado potato beetles in 1867. Even then, arsenic’s deadly toxicity was well known – Will Allen tells in his book, "The War on Bugs", how farmers lost cattle after they ate potato plants treated with Paris green. Other arsenic pesticides, London purple and lead arsenic, soon followed Paris green onto the market. By the 1930s, “well over a hundred million people in the United States suffered from mild to severe arsenic and lead poisoning,” writes Allen.

Once in the environment, Arsenic doesn't break down and go away as do some toxins. So much arsenic was sprayed on farms, it got into the environment for good – and massively infiltrated our food and water. U.S. limits on arsenic in drinking water were set at 50 ppb in 1942, before arsenic was classified as a carcinogen. But a 1999 report by the National Academy of Sciences showed that this level failed to protect Americans from an unacceptably high risk of cancer.  

Recently, ABC News and other outlets have exposed the fact of the unacceptably high As -content in rice. This despite the fact that (according to the Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program) "It is considered the number one environmental chemical of concern for human health effects both in the U.S. and worldwide". Chemically, As can be divided into two categories: organic and inorganic. While organic arsenic is itself a probable human carcinogen, inorganic arsenic is a definite human carcinogen that is linked to liver, lung, kidney, bladder, and skin cancer as well as “increased risk of vascular and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, reproductive and developmental disorders, low birth weights in babies, neurological and cognitive problems, immunodeficiencies, metabolic disorders, and a growing list of other serious outcomes.”  

According to Consumers Union’s senior scientist Michael Hansen:   "When you’re talking about a carcinogen [like arsenic], there is no safe level,”  

Hell, maybe given the fact I've eaten rice every single day in 10-12 oz. servings, THAT is what incepted my prostate cancer. Who can argue the converse? (Oh right, we must be aware that no one can prove a negative. My bad!)  But at least we can thank Consumers Union for providing a table explaining how much rice one can eat to achieve a 1 in 1,000 lifetime risk of cancer. The federal government does not limit the amount of arsenic allowed in food, so Consumers Union based its standard on the EPA’s initial recommendation for arsenic limits in drinking water (five parts per billion).  

Meanwhile, speaking of water, even if one avoided ALL rice or other putative high As -content foods, he'd still face cancer from As in drinking water. In terms of H2O, the EPA in 2000 proposed lowering the limit for arsenic from 50 ppb to just 5 ppb. But aw shit, the Industry complained, and the Clinton-era EPA settled upon lowering the limit to just 10 ppb instead. Once George W. Bush took office, he initially attempted to block the change, thus keeping the World War II-era limit of 50 ppb. (Hint: Repukes love cancer because if they increase the death rate of citizens they can have more die off, especially if they kill all health insurance like Mitt plans to do, and so have less $$ to shell out for Social Security "entitlements".)  

By November 2001, the Bush administration reluctantly gave in to allowing the 10 ppb limit to go forward. Even so,  Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA) noted that this 10 ppb limit would allow three times as much cancer risk as the EPA’s usual goal.    Oh, one more takeaway for those who dispute we're in a Corporatocracy: , the drinking water standard – now at 10 parts per billion (ppb) – is a fine place to start for narrating how government, industry and arsenic fit together. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element, but the U.S. has increased the amount of arsenic in our environment and our farmland over the past century by using 1.6 million tons of it in agricultural and industrial applications. About half of that amount has been used since the mid-1960s.  

And then they want to blame our cancers on the foods we choose to eat!

Well, in a way they're right! They've loaded those foods with so many carcinogens that today, the lucky people in Cancer Roulette are the ones that make it to age 60 without getting any cancer at all. Alas, they often are actually harboring a tumor or more somewhere, and it's usually discovered accidentally during a CAT-scan hence the term "accidentoplasm". According to a TIME medical costs article last year, an estimated 16 million "accidentoplasms" are found each year, and if the medical establishment were forced to treat all of them we'd go broke just treating cancers.   Maybe it's just as well we go through our lives, most of us, not knowing what we don't know!

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