Tackling an
environmental disease

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Primary prevention is the answer

News - 29/7/08


Downing street petition - live from 18/06/08 to 17/10/08

Sign up to push PM to ask leading breast cancer charities why they don't acknowledge environmental and occupational risk factors.

Our Campaign Co-ordinator, Helen Lynn, has organised a petition on the Downing Street website.  The reason for this petition is that the Government and leading cancer charities almost exclusively focus on lifestyle factors, improving early detection, and treatment for breast cancer, which has not stopped the rising incidence of the disease in this country. Lifestyle changes cannot prevent a woman getting breast cancer whilst cancer causing agents and endocrine disruptors are allowed to build up in the environment and our bodies.

We need an inclusive strategy on breast cancer which encompasses environmental and occupational exposures as well as early detection and treatment. One that, at its heart, supports the precautionary principle with a view to decreasing or, where possible, eliminating exposure to chemicals and substances already found to be linked to this disease.

Our petition question is based on the fact that the major breast cancer charities do not highlight environmental links as a risk factor in breast cancer when they act as advisors to the Government.  Acknowledgment of this link by the Government, leading cancer charities and the medical establishment is vital to push us to the forefront of eradicating this largely preventable disease.

Once the petition is closed in mid-October, it passes to officials who work for the Prime Minister in Downing Street, or to the relevant Government department, for a response. Every person who signs the petition will receive an email containing the Government's reply to the issues raised.

To sign please click on this link:

Petition wording: We, the undersigned, petition the Prime Minister to ask the leading breast cancer charities why they don’t acknowledge environmental and occupational exposures as risk factors for breast cancer.

Breast cancer cases have reached record levels and the disease is increasing across all age ranges. In the UK a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is 1 in 9.

There is mounting evidence linking lifelong, low-level exposure to a toxic cocktail of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors in our homes, workplaces, and environment to breast cancer.

The EU recently recognised the environmental causes of breast cancer which must be taken into account when considering any public health approach to this disease (see But the UK cancer charities continue to refute environmental and occupational exposures as a risk factor.

The historic approach of focusing on lifestyles factors alone, accounts for only 30-50% of breast cancer cases, leaving 50-70% of cases with no known cause.

The UK could lead the way in Europe by recognising environmental and occupational risk factors by taking their inspiration from progressive initiatives by the US (see and New Zealand Governments (see also and the Canadian Cancer Society.

contact us | about us | a campaign of Breast Cancer UK reg. charity number: 1138866 in England & Wales; reg. company number: 7348408|
Reg. address: Breast Cancer UK Ltd, Solva, Southwick Road, Denmead, Waterlooville, Hants. PO7 6LA UK | last updated: 29/07/2008