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environmental disease

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Primary prevention is the answer

Media release - 27/4/07


Climate change will mean more cancer chemicals back in circulation

Eco-icon Rachel Carson – centenary event

A remarkable film, INVISIBLE, reviewed by The Lancet Oncology online yesterday, vindicates dire warnings given by Rachel Carson in her history-changing book, Silent Spring, published in 1962, shortly before her tragic death from breast cancer.

Rachel Carson was the first to realise that exposure to toxic chemicals could harm unborn babies in the womb, increasing their lifelong risks of cancer.

An international authority, quoted in the Lancet Oncology review, confirms: ‘Data on exposures during critical periods of development are lacking: adult women currently at risk of breast cancer may have been exposed to exogenous [outside-the-body] endocrine-disrupting chemicals in utero or during infancy, childhood, and adolescence in the mid-twentieth century when contaminant levels of organochlorines were higher.’

The No More Breast Cancer Campaign is marking the centenary of Rachel Carson’s birth year, 1907, with a special screening of the film INVISIBLE, on Friday 18th May, London (free admission), 6.30pm, followed by a discussion with top speakers including Caroline Lucas MEP.

Caroline Lucas says: ‘The effect of pesticides and chemical by-products of intensive agriculture are being felt the world over. Even as far away as the Arctic, Inuit women are recording extraordinary high levels of carcinogens in their bloodstreams, having ingested them through the animals they eat.

‘This film showing commemorates 100 years since the birth of pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson, and it completely corroborates her message: that the use of toxic pesticides is extremely hazardous to human health and we should move towards a system of chemical-free organic agriculture.’

Alison Craig of the No More Breast Cancer Campaign says: ‘Hundreds of chemicals and pesticides currently in use are known or suspected to disrupt hormones, and work to identify them is horrendously slow. We must learn from past calamitous mistakes and remove them from the market now.’



1. The Lancet Oncology review of the film INVISIBLE went online yesterday 26th April 2007, see and navigate to the Lancet Oncology mediawatch section. Registration is free. The title of the review is ‘Northern Exposure’. The media office contact is Tony Kirby at The Lancet 020 7424 4949.

2. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals are the gender-bender chemicals known to cause harmful reproductive effects in wildlife and humans. The exposure of the unborn child in utero [in the womb] is suspected to lead to increased risks of cancer.

3. The No More Breast Cancer Rachel Carson Centenary Event is being held on Friday 18th May, Curzon Mayfair Cinema, London, 6.30pm, sponsored by Neal’s Yard Remedies. FREE ADMISSION There will be a special screening of the film INVISIBLE, followed by a panel discussion. Panellists are: Caroline Lucas MEP, Elizabeth Salter Green, CHEM Trust, formerly WWF Toxics Campaign, Roz Mortimer, Producer and Director of INVISIBLE, and Clare Dimmer, No More Breast Cancer Campaign. RSVPs requested by Wednesday 16th May 2007 to: or tel 0845 680 1322. See

4. The internationally authoritative statement on endocrine-disrupting chemicals is the ‘Global Assessment of the State-of-the-science of endocrine disruptors’, International Programme for Chemical Safety (IPCS), 2002.

5. Rachel Carson said: ‘For those in whom cancer is already a hidden or a visible presence, efforts to find cures must of course continue. But for those not yet touched by the disease and certainly for the generations as yet unborn, prevention is the imperative need.’ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962, Chapter 14, ‘One in every four.’

6. The incidence of breast cancer has hit a new record and the increase shows no sign of slowing. The latest UK government statistics, published in September last year, confirm a rise of eighty per cent in three decades and a continuing upward trend. Over 43,000 women, and 300 men, are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the UK.

7. Breast cancer accounts for around 12,800 deaths each year in the UK. Although mortality in the last ten years has declined, its incidence in industrialised countries – in all age-groups – has been rising steadily for decades. It recently overtook lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Europe.

8. The top experts on the issue of climate change resulting in the release of toxic pollutants currently locked up in polar ice-caps are: Professor Kevin Jones, Environmental Science Department, Lancaster University, tel 01524 593972 or Dr Chris Halsall tel 01524 594330; and Professor Lars-Otto Reiersen, Director of the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, Oslo. Tel: +47 23 24 16 32.

9. The No More Breast Cancer Campaign is demanding more action to prevent breast cancer, and for a reduction in exposure to environmental pollutants on a precautionary basis. Our campaign message is supported by: Breast Cancer UK, Cancer Prevention and Education Society, Green Party, Health & Environment Alliance, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, Scottish Breast Cancer Campaign, Soil Association, UK Public Health Association, Unison, Women in Europe for a Common Future, Women’s Environmental Network, Women’s Environmental Network Scotland, WWF.


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Reg. address: Breast Cancer UK Ltd, Solva, Southwick Road, Denmead, Waterlooville, Hants. PO7 6LA UK | last updated: 30/04/2007