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December 22, 2009

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Cancer campaigners form new alliance

Health and safety campaigners, trades unions and health charities have formed a new group to promote cancer prevention.

The Alliance for Cancer Prevention — whose members include trade unions GMB, Unison and Unite, as well as Breast Cancer UK, the No More Breast Cancer Campaign, and Hazards Campaign — convened for its first meeting in November to discuss the UK Government’s strategy for fighting cancer.

The Alliance seeks to raise questions and promote work undertaken in other countries, which, it argues, shows that the UK cancer establishment is behind other nations in its thinking and approach to the disease.

The group cites one recent example as the resolution by the Endocrine Society on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), adopted by the American Medical Association (AMA). According to the Alliance, the resolution called on the AMA to work with federal government to enact new policies aimed at reducing the public’s exposure to EDCs.

Helen Lynn, facilitator of the Alliance, said: “There has been no movement from the [UK] cancer establishment on the environmental and occupational risk factors for cancer despite 14 years of accumulated evidence. It’s time for a robust voice to ask questions about this and other prevention issues, so we want to announce the formation of this new Alliance.”

The group believes that a lack of government action has rendered cancer policies ineffectual by too much of a focus on lifestyle factors. This approach, says the Alliance, means that cancer incidence will continue to rise as a result of individuals’ exposure to substances that can cause cancer in the home, the workplace, and the wider environment.

Alliance member, Professor Rory O’Neill, of Stirling University, commented: “We estimate that tens of thousands each year have to endure potentially terminal diseases that could have been prevented by simple, affordable changes to the substances and processes used by industry.”

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