Cancer scares have resonated throughout society since the 1950's with little or no back ground or follow up information that would allow for the general public to judge these matters for themselves. This page will attempt to expand the available information to everyone's benefit.

ACSH Petitions EPA to Stop Declaring Chemicals "Carcinogens" Based on Rodent Tests Alone
PRESS RELEASE - Publication Date: August 23, 2005

New York, NY -- August 23, 2005. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) today petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to eliminate "junk science" from the process by which it determines whether a substance is likely to cause cancer in humans.

This was the first update the ASCH petitiion to EPA

EPA to Defend Itself from ACSH
December 1, 2005

November 21 was the deadline for a response from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ACSH's lawsuit, filed by the Washington Legal Foundation. Ninety days earlier, we had requested an explanation for the discrepancy -- ostensibly forbidden by the Information Quality Act -- between EPA's regulations and the scientific information available to them. Specifically, they know full well that not everything they label a "carcinogen" truly is one in the sense of posing a threat to humans (rodents, given doses so high as to be meaningless for assessing human health risks, are a different story).

Here is the second update.

The EPA Stonewalls ACSH: What Would Happen If We Tried This on Them? January 24, 2006

We tried to respectfully petition the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revisit their outmoded methods of assigning carcinogen risk to various chemicals in the environment, and their response, despite laws mandating their response within a set time period, was essentially: "Your message is very important to us -- please call back later."

Here is the third and final update.

We Should Expect More From the EPA
March 21, 2006
by Elizabeth M. Whelan

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is right about one thing: the public should hold it accountable for how its programs work. The EPA said as much last month in a press release announcing its participation in, which "provides the public with candid, easy to understand assessments of federal programs," including approximately forty-three from EPA. So why did this huge, wasteful federal agency stonewall a small, information-seeking consumer advocacy organization and flout the law in the process?

Finally, in early March, two weeks before their final self-imposed deadline, EPA replied with a dodge, claiming that their Risk Assessment Guidelines are not statements of scientific fact -- and thus not covered by the IQA -- but merely statements of EPA policy. One might have hoped that science and policy would go together at the world's most powerful regulatory agency. WLF is appealing on behalf of ACSH, filing a request for reconsideration with the EPA

ACSH Holiday Dinner Menu

No human diet can be free of naturally occurring chemicals that are rodent carcinogens. Of the chemicals that people eat, 99.99% are natural." — Bruce Ames, Ph.D. and Lois Swirsky Gold, Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
Menu analysis prepared by ACSH staff, directors, and scientific advisors, with technical assistance from Dr. Ruth Kava, Director of Nutrition, and Dr. Leonard Flynn, scientific consultant.

Jumping Ship From the Rats
By Gilbert Ross, M.D.

We won! That is, the forces of science-based public health policy seem to have won -- if not the war, at least a major battle. At long last, federal risk assessors and regulators have come around to the view that administering chemicals to rodents in super-high doses does not reliably predict human risk -- of cancer, or anything else -- and that a better method needs to be employed, if we are to avoid more unnecessary bans, anti-chemical media hysteria, and activist crusades.

High dose animal tests on one rodent species don't reliably predict cancer risk in another rodent type, much less in humans. The same tests for "carcinogens" that are used to condemn synthetic chemicals also give false positive findings for a whole spectrum of natural substances that we safely eat, breathe, and drink every day.

Breast cancer may be sexually transmitted
By Judy Skatssoon

Breast cancer could be sexually transmitted, says a researcher who has found the same virus that causes cervical cancer in breast cancer tumours from Australian women. Emeritus Professor James Lawson of the University of New South Wales and colleagues have found the same form of the human papillomavirus (HPV) associated with cervical cancer in almost half the breast tumour samples they tested.

Cancer Clusters: Findings Vs Feelings
Medscape General Medicine [TM], David Robinson - Executive Summary

The issue of cancer clusters, which has been in the spotlight recently, is plagued by a wide disparity between public perceptions and scientific findings. Movies like Erin Brockovich have led the public to think that industrial pollution in the environment is causing local "cancer clusters" where cancer cases are more prevalent due to cancer-causing chemicals.

Feds Scare Public With Cancer 'Causes'
By Steven Milloy

The federal "cancer scare" machine this week labeled sunlight, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, wood dust and 12 other substances as "known" to cause cancer in humans. These additions bring to 228 the total number of substances supposedly "known" or "reasonably anticipated" to cause cancer. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says the National Toxicology Program's biennial report on carcinogens "helps all of us ensure that the American public is made aware of potential cancer hazards." What the American public should be made aware of is the certain absurdity of the NTP's cancer labeling scheme.

Nevada Cancer Scare Is Tree-Ring Circus
By Steven Milloy

Public health officials know better than to fret over reports of higher cancer rates in particular geographic locations. Such "cancer clusters" virtually always turn out to be the result of pure chance. But that hasn’t stopped others from whipping up worry over a leukemia cluster in the small town of Fallon, Nev.

Thirteen children have contracted leukemia since 1997 in Fallon, a farming and military community 60 miles east of Reno. Only two cases occurred in the prior 20 years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry investigated and last month held town meetings in Fallon to announce their findings.

Neither agency could identify a cause of the cancer cluster — not an unexpected result.
The CDC previously investigated and reported on 108 cancer clusters between 1961 and 1990. None could be linked with environmental causes. Because cancer clusters are now viewed as chance occurrences, state public health departments view cluster investigations as wild goose chases. They’ve even adopted procedures to avoid wasting precious resources on pointless investigations.

Mouse-Trapped: The Regulatory Juggernaut of Rodent Cancer-Testing

By Elizabeth Whelan

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that human exposure to rodent carcinogens poses a risk of human cancer.

Superstitions — closely held beliefs lacking any scientific support — have been around for ages. They promise empowerment: if you take some pre-emptive action (avoid broken mirrors, black cats, or ladders) you can dodge dire consequences. True, there is no evidence that such actions protect you, but just in case, you take a few extra steps to avoid the ladder. After all, you never know.

Superstitions prevail in our high-tech era. Take for example the common practice of using the results of high-dose rodent cancer tests to predict which substances might cause human cancer.

By Steven Milloy

Swedish scientists reported this week that eating potato chips may expose you to dangerously high amounts of the supposedly cancer-causing substance acrylamide.
Not to worry, though. You'd choke on the chips before you croaked from the chemical.
Stockholm University researchers claim to have shown that baking or frying carbohydrate-rich foods, such as potatoes and cereals, formed acrylamide, a substance classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a "probable human carcinogen." "I have been in this field for 30 years and I have never seen anything like this before," said Leif Busk, head of research for Sweden's National Food Administration. "The discovery ... is new knowledge. It may now be possible to explain some of the cases of cancer caused by food ... Frying at high temperatures or for a long time should be avoided," Busk added.

Cancer Trends
The True Causes of Cancer
By Angela Logomasini

Environmental activists have long claimed that man-made chemicals are causing rampant cancer rates that could be addressed only by government regulation. Accordingly, lawmakers have passed laws directing government agencies to study environmental causes of cancer, estimate the number of lives allegedly lost, and devise regulations to reduce death rates. However, lawmakers should be aware of some key problems with how this system has worked in practice. First, the claim that chemical pollution is a major cancer cause is wrong. Second, agencies have relied on faulty scientific methods that grossly overestimate potential cancer deaths from chemicals and potential lives saved by regulation. As a result, regulatory policy tends to divert billions of dollars from other life-saving uses or from other efforts to improve quality of life to pay for unproductive regulations.

A Cancer Non-Epidemic (from the New York Post)
By Jeff Stier, Esq.

In recent decades, many have claimed that cancer is rising because of increased use of human made chemicals. But if chemicals were a source of health problems, one might expect that as chemical use increased around the world, there would be a measurable adverse effect on life expectancy, cancer rates, or other illnesses. Yet in developed nations, where chemical use has greatly increased, people are living longer, healthier lives.

We have an epidemic of disbelief about cancer in this country -- but it's the opposite of what you probably expect. Cancer death rates have been falling for years, and now are falling even faster. Yet it's still stories about allegedly ignored cancer threats that grab our attention.

If death rates were rising, the situation would (rightly) be front-page news. But the new report by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Cancer Society notes that the rate of decline in U.S. cancer deaths has doubled. And that story got buried (A18 in The New York Times, nowhere in the Wall Street Journal).

Most people will have forgotten the good news by the next time an activist group talks up "the cancer epidemic."

Now for the Good News
By Indur M. Goklany

Mankind has never been healthier, wealthier or freer. Surprised? Environmentalists and globalization foes are united in their fear that greater population and consumption of energy, materials, and chemicals accompanying economic growth, technological change and free trade—the mainstays of globalization—degrade human and environmental well-being. Indeed, the 20th century saw the United States’ population multiply by four, income by seven, carbon dioxide emissions by nine, use of materials by 27, and use of chemicals by more than 100. Yet life expectancy increased from 47 years to 77 years. Onset of major disease such as cancer, heart, and respiratory disease has been postponed between eight and eleven years in the past century. Heart disease and cancer rates have been in rapid decline over the last two decades, and total cancer deaths have actually declined the last two years, despite increases in population. Among the very young, infant mortality has declined from 100 deaths per 1,000 births in 1913 to just seven per 1,000 today.

Leaders & Success: Bruce Ames
By Michael Fumento

"Don't smoke and eat your fruits and veggies." If you ask Bruce Ames, that simple, folksy remedy is the best way to avoid cancer. So why is this 63-year-old professor of biology at the University of California, Berkeley, so controversial? Ames burst on the national scientific scene in the early 1970s with the development of a method, generally dubbed the Ames Test or the Ames Mutagenicity Test, to determine what chemicals caused a certain bacteria to mutate. This, in turn, could be used to help determine what chemicals cause cancer. …. Prodded by a tiny handful of doctors, such as Samuel Epstein of the University of Illinois at Chicago, by a media looking for headlines, and by celebrity spokespeople such as Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep, Americans, Ames says, are engaged in a veritable witch hunt against synthetically produced chemicals and the companies that make them…. And not only is there no cancer epidemic, says Ames, but the tests that purport to implicate synthetic chemicals as causes of human cancer in fact do no such thing.

Dose Matters in Fighting Chronic Disease
By John Weisburger, Ph.D., M.D.(hc)

I have researched the mechanisms of cancer causation, the ultimate goal of such activity being a sound basis for cancer prevention. Regrettably, many environmentalists, while allegedly having the same goal, know few of the facts bearing on this important issue -- in particular, they ignore the fact that substances that would be harmful in large doses may be harmless in tiny enough doses. This fact has implications for fighting cancer and chronic disease, since the environmentalists routinely treat even a single molecule of a banned substance as if it were a threat. My colleague and friend Gary M. Williams, now at New York Medical College, and I have published papers in this area. (See, for example: Weisburger JH, Williams GM (2000), The distinction between genotoxic and epigenetic carcinogens and implication for cancer risk. Toxicol. Sci 57:4-5).

By Steven J. Milloy
Do the deodorant toilet bowl blocks used in public restrooms cause cancer? “Chemical compounds in household products like mothballs and air fresheners can cause cancer by blocking the normal process of cell suicide,” reported University of Colorado researchers this week. The chemical compounds at issue are naphthalene, which is used in mothballs, and para-dichlorobenze (PDCB), which is used in deodorant toilet bowl blocks and other air fresheners. The study spawned worrisome headlines from the United Press International (“Mystery of carcinogenic mothballs solved”) and “[Colorado University] sniffs out cancer link in mothballs”). “This study shows why mothballs and some air freshener products may be harmful to humans,” said study author Ding Xue. “Understanding how carcinogenic compounds can trigger tumor growth is important for federal regulatory agencies that deal with human exposure to hazardous chemicals,” Xue added.
Since consumers use more than one million pounds of naphthalene and PDCB annually, should this new study cause worry? First, the researchers did not study whether the chemicals actually caused cancer in humans. Instead, they studied the effects of the chemicals on nematodes – worms, that is. When the worms were exposed to the chemicals, cells that normally would have died, instead survived, according to the researchers.
By Jeremy Clarke
Is sunshine good for you? For years, scientists have warned us that to lie in the sun all day without sunscreen is more or less fatal. But new research is telling us that we can come out from under our beach umbrellas and sombreros because 95 per cent of our intake of vitamin D comes from sunshine. And vitamin D is essential for absorbing calcium, keeping bones healthy, and protecting against serious diseases such as osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes and multiple sclerosis…. Dr Hiley is angered by the way that the homeopathic industry exacerbates and then plays on men's fear of prostate cancer to sell its products. "They'll announce, for example, that prostate cancer kills 400,000 a year, when that figure would, in reality, be the combined US and UK fatalities in the past decade. The actual UK figure is 32,000 diagnoses and 10,000 deaths. In a sense, the increasing incidence of prostate cancer is a kind of success because it means people are living to a greater age than before."

Annual Report to the Nation Finds Cancer Death Rates Continue to Drop; Lower Cancer Rates Observed in U.S. Latino Populations
A new report from the nation's leading cancer organizations finds that Americans' risk of dying from cancer continues to drop, maintaining a trend that began in the early 1990s. However, the rate of new cancers remains stable. The "Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2003, Featuring Cancer among U.S. Hispanic/Latino Populations" is published in the October 15, 2006, issue of Cancer*.

The report includes comprehensive data on trends over the past several decades for all major cancers. It shows that the long-term decline in overall cancer death rates continued through 2003 for all races and both sexes combined. The declines were greater among men (1.6 percent per year from 1993 through 2003) than women (0.8 percent per year from 1992 through 2003).

Science in the Media Sausage Grinder
By John Luik

Recent weeks have offered a rich harvest of new "health" threats with splashy headlines warning us about the supposed dangers from processed meats, hair dyes, and tanning parlors. While all of these stories are all a little odd, perhaps the oddest is the one about how meat increases the risk of stomach cancer. This story was featured on the networks and in several major papers. One news outlet even went so far as to tell its readers just how much bacon they could eat before being at risk for cancer! What makes the meat and stomach cancer story odd from the get-go is the fact that compared to the rest of the world, North America has one of the lowest rates of stomach cancer incidence and mortality in the world at 10 per 100,000. The highest rates are found in Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. And the pattern of declining incidence found here is repeated throughout much of the Western world. But the really peculiar thing about the meat and stomach cancer scare is how fundamentally at odds the news reports were from the actual science.

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