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Facts You Need to Know About Cancer

One in three people will contract cancer, and one in four will die from the disease.

Within five years, cancer will surpass heart disease as the leading cause of death, according to the American Hospital Association.

In 1994, 1.2 million new cancer cases were added to the more than eight million people in the U.S. who have already been diagnosed with cancer.

Since 1950, the overall cancer incidence has increased by 44 percent; the incidence of breast cancer and male colon cancer by about 60 percent; testis, prostate and kidney by 100 percent; and other cancers, such as malignant melanoma, multiple myeloma and some lymphomas, by over 100 percent.

The estimated annual cost of cancer to the United States, excluding incalculable psychosocial costs, is $110 billion, approximately 2 percent of the GNP.

An estimated 80 million people have health insurance insufficient to cover the costs of a catastrophic illness such as cancer.

Annual production rates for synthetic, carcinogenic and other industrial chemicals exploded from 1 billion pounds in 1940 to more than 500 billion pounds annually during the 1980s.

Recent National Cancer Institute studies have linked: non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and exposure to solvents, oils, and greases; elevated risks for multiple myelorna among men and women employed in the textile and plastic industries; lymphoma among laboratory workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and lung cancer among workers who developed silicosis.

The rates of certain types of cancer among some industrial workers are up to 10 times higher than in the general population. Children of workers handling chemical carcinogens have sharply increase cancer rates. For example, the risks of childhood leukemia are increased two-to-five-fold if, during their mother's pregnancies, their fathers worked with spray paints, dyes or pigments.

Some 75 percent of all cancers develop in those over 55, but notable exceptions include childhood leukemia, testicular and brain cancers - which mainly strike young people and have been increasing at an alarming rate, particularly among peak age groups For example, there has been an approximate 300 percent increase in testicular cancer among those aged 25-34 since the 1950s.

During the 1990s, nearly 2 million women will have been diagnosed with breast cancer and 460,000 will have died. Between 1950 and 1989, the incidence of breast cancer increased by 53 percent.

There has been an approximate doubling in. lung cancer rates in recent decades among non- smokers. A wide range of occupational exposures and urban air pollution have been shown to cause lung cancer.

"Occupational studies have played a major role in identifying well-established environmental carcinogens, such as asbestos, benzene, arsenic, aromatic amines, coal tars, vinyl chloride, chromium, and wood dust." Measures of Progress Against Cancer - Cancer Prevention, Significant Accomplishments 1982-1992, The National Cancer Institute.

"It is well established that primary prevention is the most effective means of disease control. This is particularly true of cancer." Measures of Progress Against Cancer - Cancer Prevention.

"Lack of appreciation of the potential hazards of environmental and food source contaminants, and laws, policies, and regulations protecting and promoting tobacco use worsen the cancer problem and drive up health care costs." Cancer At a Crossroads: A Report to Congress for the Nation, National Cancer Advisory Board, September 1994.

"While individuals have a responsibility to change high-risk behavior, government and society have responsibilities to identify and prevent workplace and environmental hazards, restrict advertising of unsafe products, require accurate product labeling, and provide culturally targeted education about cancer risk and prevention." Cancer At a Crossroads

"The elimination or reduction of exposure to carcinogenic agents is a priority in the prevention of cancer. We are just beginning to understand the full range of health effects resulting from the exposure to occupational and environmental agents and factors." Cancer at a Crossroads

"We spend close to $100 billion a year on cancer treatment in this country. If we are going to get on top of this problem, we absolutely have to focus more on prevention." Dr Devra Lee Davis, senior adviser to the assistant secretary for health and human services. Washington Post, February 14.

"Everyone should know that the 'war on cancer' is largely a fraud." Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel laureate.

"No one should think that because the [Environmental Protection Agency] allows it, a pesticide is safe. No pesticide is safe. They're designed to kill living organisms. They should be treated with respect -including the warnings on the label." Jerome Blondell, EPA's pesticides office. USA Today, February 27,1995.

In the time it took you to read this fact sheet, another two Americans have died of cancer.

Cancer Prevention Coalition
c/o School of Public Health, University of Illinois Medical Center
2121 West Taylor Street ,Chicago, IL 60612
Tel: (312) 996-2297, Fax: (312) 996-1374
Email: [email protected]