Subject: Cancer Prevention ... and Groundhog Day?

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The first day of the rest of your life.
What better time is there to prevent cancer?

Prevent Cancer Now works on many ways to tip the odds in your favour, against cancer. Today’s topics are smoking, safer chemicals, and the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratory Licence hearing.
First, a Quirky Question: In celebration of World Cancer Day and Groundhog Day, apart from timing, what is a cancer connection? Read on…
Smoke

All sorts of smoke cause cancer. This includes tobacco and cannabis, not to mention engine exhaust, incineration and power generation, and industries. Particles and toxic vapours damage the mouth, throat and lungs, and become trapped in mucus and swallowed. The toxins move on to damage the stomach and intestines, while chemicals absorbed in the bloodstream reach the body and brain. Chronic diseases including cancers decrease quality of life and lifespan, and even harm the unborn child.
 
National non-smoking week launched just as the federal Cannabis Consultation wrapped up. With the banner of “harm reduction,” it would be a public health tragedy if cannabis legalization brought increased harm to users and to non-smokers. Today in Canada, most second hand exposure occurs when smoke and vapours infiltrate neighbours’ units in multi-unit buildings.  Prevent Cancer Now advocated protection from smoked and vaped products federally, and in B.C, Alberta and Ontario. No-smoking clauses in leases, are the best bet for now. Check out Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, and Smoke-Free Housing Canada
 
A word of caution: Edible and dermal products do no negate the established harms of cannabis to the developing brain, including during pregnancy, and in teenagers and young adults.
 
Good news! Fewer Canadians are smoking heavily. Indeed, the 2017 Canadian Cancer Statistics show that cancer diagnoses are stable overall, with declining smoking-related cancers (normalized for age and population).  For those still addicted, there are many sources of help including your doctor, public health unit, workplace, community and even ex-smokers.
Flip Side – Non-smoking-related cancers are on the rise, particularly at younger ages. Most notable are colorectal cancer, and malignancies linked to hormone mimicking exposures. Many common substances in plastics, everyday products and pesticides may contribute to cancers, and harm children from conception on. Federal chemicals management is leaving these “endocrine disrupting” chemicals (EDCs) on the market, or permitting similar problematic substances to take their place. Lots more details are in our submissions including Federal legal and scientific reform  and a Roadmap for EDCs.
 
Setting the stage for unfortunate substitutions – two recent examples
 
Phthalates are EDCs used in plastics, cleaners, fabric softeners and personal care products, to name a few. Phthalates that are in use are taken in and commonly found in Canadians. With more than 1000 possible phthalate chemicals, when one is banned then industries have many possible substitutes. We contend that least-toxic actions on phthalates require elimination – not substitution with poorly researched look-alikes.
 
The antimicrobial chemical triclosan is another EDC found in cleaners, cosmetics, plastics, and many other materials. Hospitals provide plain soap without triclosan because there is no evidence that antibacterial soaps reduce infections. The U.S. EPA followed up with a ban of 19 antimicrobial chemicals in hand soaps pending in December 2018. Leading up to the Canadian December 2017 proposed federal risk management (comments now being accepted) we previously submitted that triclosan should be banned for many uses, and that ineffective chemicals management can contribute to antimicrobial resistance. Confusion reigns, as a potential substitute for triclosan was proposed to be banned from cosmetics in November 2017, although the same chemical (methylisothiazolinone) was on the list of alternatives to triclosan in the December 2017  document.
... and now for something different
Nuclear research and waste - CNSC hearing re. Chalk River Licence

The Red Canoe protest presaged a January 2018 Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) hearing, with arguments from local experts and indigenous peoples, as well as Prevent Cancer Now:
·       against a long-term nuclear waste landfill close to the Ottawa River, in an earthquake zone;
·       against plans for nuclear research by a private consortium (Canadian Nuclear Laboratories or CNL); and ultimately
·       for at most a three-year licence for the consortium(five-year licences are the norm; the consortium wants ten years).
 
Last summer, scientists decried the plans for a 5-story dome of nuclear waste, proposed by the private consortium to operate the Chalk River Laboratories upstream of Ottawa, on the Ottawa River.  Following splintering of AECL by the Harper government, former employees highlight inadequate technology that does not meet regulatory requirements to protect health and safety of persons and the environment. Scientists fear that the private consortium taking over the Chalk River site “will walk away with pockets full of money and Canadians will be left with an enormous bill." Although the Canadian Cancer Society welcomes CNL, other submissions to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission noted
·       instability in Canadian Nuclear Laboratories management;
·       lack of knowledge of key regulations and international obligations; and
·       lack of open, transparent and meaningful public engagement.

ANSWER to Quirky Question: Some spots on the Chalk River nuclear site have soil that is so contaminated, that radon in burrows may pose risks to burrowing rodents.
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