Chemicals and contaminants might trigger cancer by a variety of means. They can damage DNA, disrupt hormones, inflame tissues, or turn genes on or off.
“Some types of cancer are increasing rapidly,” Clapp said, including thyroid, kidney and liver cancers. Others, including lung and breast cancer, have declined, largely due to declines in tobacco use and hormone replacement therapy.
Previous reports by the President’s Cancer Panel have focused largely on treatment and more well-known causes of cancer such as diet or smoking.
The panel criticized regulators and industry for using ”woefully outdated” estimates of environmentally caused cancers to set regulations and “to justify its claims that specific products pose little or no cancer risk.”Some experts are concerned that the report might just sit on a shelf at the White House. But Clapp said the findings are so strongly stated that he is confident the report will be useful to some policymakers, legislators and groups that want tougher occupational health standards or other regulations.
“We’re not going to get any better than this,” Clapp said. “This goes farther than what I thought the President’s Cancer Panel would go. I’m pleased that they went as far as they did.”
Environmental health scientists said they hope the report raises not just the President’s awareness of environmental threats, but the public’s, since most people are unaware of the dangers.
“This report has stature,” Schettler said. “It is a report that goes directly to the president.”