Having been touched by breast cancers in numerous women important to me, I’ve long been astounded by the extent to which discussions of the subject start by blaming women — you picked the wrong parents, you didn’t have your kids soon enough, you forgot to have kids, you ate too much, you ate the wrong things … on and on and on.
Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D, an environmentalist and brilliant poet, writes about the medical-industrial complex and its instant assumption that the genesis of cancer is in the genes in her outstanding book Living Downstream. Sadly, her message seems to have been shrugged off by industry and the agencies charged with protecting public health. The media watchdog group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) has a nice new piece in the February 2009 issue (alas, not yet available online) on the media’s code of silence with respect to the environmental causes of cancer.
It’s worth a trip to the library or magazine stand to check it out.
Meanwhile, there’s a good discussion of the topic that starts at about 18:40 in this week’s “CounterSpin,” the FAIR radio program.
The bottom line: environmental insults are at least as significant as the usual factors discussed around incidence of breast cancer in the US — but are studied far less, and are almost entirely absent from the wave of feel-good pink bushwa that floods the media every year during “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”
The sterling SF Bay-area group Breast Cancer Action has been a real leader in refusing to allow industry to bury the connection between their emissions and women’s breast cancers. For a good example of their work, check out this factsheet on breast cancer and the environment.