Media Release

Cancer Rates on the Rise with Environmental and Workplace Factors to Blame

Mar 26 1999

Hamilton. Many cancers in Ontario are on the rise, according to a new report, Everyday Carcinogens: Stopping Cancer Before It Starts, released today. The report was commissioned for a conference starting in Hamilton Ontario tonight on cancer prevention. According to the report, there has been a 29% increase in breast cancer, a 106% increase in Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a 349% increase in women's lung cancer, a 116% increase in melanoma and a 146% increase in thyroid cancer for women in the past 30 years. For men, there has been a 102% increase in prostate cancer, a 273% increase in melanoma, a 115% increase in Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a 65% increase in testicular cancer, and a 133% increase in thyroid cancer. "The problem is that these people are suffering from this disease, and often dying, unnecessarily," noted Dr. Sam Epstein, perhaps the world's most influential critic of cancer policy and the author of the book, The Politics of Cancer Revisited. "In Ontario, the focus is still on finding the cure rather than preventing this epidemic." Dr. Epstein, a Professor of Occupational Health and Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, stated that a significant number of cancers are attributable to environmental and workplace carcinogens - and are therefore preventable. "Few Canadians in Ontario know that there has been an increase in many cancers that are linked to environmental and workplace causes. Moreover, cancer is a leading cause of death and is placing a huge strain on the health care system," according to Liz Armstrong, author of the report. "It is no wonder these cancer rates are increasing," noted Paul Muldoon, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. "Ontario is the third largest polluter in North America. Laws and policies allow the continued release of carcinogens. In fact, the latest data shows that over 15,000 tonnes of carcinogenic and toxic substances, as defined under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, are being released annually." The release of the report kicks off two days of events focusing on cancer prevention. Over 300 participants will be attending a Public Hearing at 2:00 pm at Hamilton City Hall Council Chambers and a cancer prevention conference at McMaster University Health Sciences Centre Friday evening and all day Saturday. -30-For more information: Dr. Samuel Epstein, Conference Organizer Paul Muldoon, Canadian Environmental Law Association (416) 960-2284 Liz Armstrong, Breast Cancer Prevention Coalition (519) 833-7202 Everyday Carcinogens Steering Committee: Breast Cancer Prevention Coalition, Canadian Auto Workers Local 504, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Cancer Care Ontario, Cancer Prevention Interest Group, Hamilton-Wentworth Public Health, McMaster Institute of Environment and Health, Toronto Public Health and the United Steelworkers of America Local 1005.