Panel Urges More Action on Environmental Cancer Risks

Recommendations cover research needs, caution with medical radiation, more consumer awareness
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- The burden of environmentally-induced cancer has been greatly underestimated, and action must be taken to assess the effects of environmental contaminants on human health, according to a May 6 report from the President's Cancer Panel.

The panel, chaired by LaSalle D. Leffall Jr., M.D., of the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., writes that many of the 80,000 chemicals used in the United States are unstudied or understudied and unregulated. The authors call for the accelerated development of measurement tools and research on exposure assessment to better quantify exposures. They also recommend a comprehensive national policy agenda concerning environmental contamination and human health.

In addition, they write, children are especially susceptible to environmental carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, and parents should minimize children's exposure to toxins through foods and household and garden products. They also suggest that individuals use BPA- and phthalate-free containers for storing water; periodically check home radon levels; wear a headset while using cell phones; and limit exposure to unnecessary medical tests and procedures that involve radiation.

In addition, "medical professionals need to consider occupational and environmental factors when diagnosing patient illness. Physicians and other medical professionals ask infrequently about patient workplace and home environments when taking a medical history. Such information can be invaluable in discovering underlying causes of disease," the authors write.

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