Tackling an
environmental disease

 HEA, UNISON, Co-operative bank and Scottish breast cancer campaign logos
Primary prevention is the answer

Cancer: worldwide


Information on this webpage is drawn from our 2005 report: Breast cancer - an environmental disease: the case for primary prevention, available free as a pdf, see Downloads. For current statistics and data, see our homepage.

Statistics for 2000

The graph below shows the total number of people world-wide who have been diagnosed with the 14 most common cancers during the previous five years, and are still living with cancer in the year 2000.
graph - worldwide cancer stats
Note: the figures on the bottom line of this graph have been simplified for the purposes of clarity.
(Source: the World Health Organozation (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer: World Cancer Report 2003)

Industrial pollutants were first identified in the 1940s and 1950s as causes of cancer by Wilhelm Hueper, an American doctor working in the chemicals industry. Most of the industrial contaminants affecting the health of present generations did not exist before Hueper's time. Toxicopathologist Dr Vyvyan Howard informs us that, in 2004,

'the average person in the street now has hundreds of groups of completely novel compounds in their bodies that weren't there 60 years ago. We can measure them in adult and foetal tissue. We have changed the chemical environment of the womb.' Quoted by Felicity Lawrence 'Chemical World' The Guardian May 15 2004

Knowledge on Epidemiology of Breast Cancer Causation linked to Chemicals

1976 Israeli study found breast cancer mortality declined after 1976 when organochlorine pesticides were banned or usage controlled in the country
1978 Israeli study showed an increased level of pesticides in breast tissues of women associated with increased incidence of breast cancer
1985 Women working as professional chemists were reported to have high incidence of breast cancer
1986 Exposure to agricultural pesticides known to cause cancer in rodents linked by US Government researchers to high incidence of human breast cancer in Nassau and Norfolk counties
1987 Study of Yusho area in Japan, where population was exposed to dioxins and PCBs, revealed elevated breast cancer rates
1989 Correlation between proximity of homes to hazardous waste sites and major increases in breast cancer risks
1991 High levels of breast cancer reported in German pesticide plant where women were exposed to dioxins
1991 Women exposed to chlorinated organic solvents reported to have high incidence of breast cancer
1992 Women born to mothers with pre-eclampsia and therefore lower oestrogen levels during pregnancy had significantly reduced risks of developing breast cancer compared with controls. Women born to mothers with elevated oestrogen during pregnancy had an increased risk of breast cancer
1993 Women working as hairdressers and women using hair dyes were reported to have an excessive incidence of breast cancer
Andrew Watterson 'Breast Cancer and the Links with Exposure to Environmental and Occupational Carcinogens: A Study of Public Health Concerns and Public Policy Failures' pp29-30 1995

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Reg. address: Breast Cancer UK Ltd, Solva, Southwick Road, Denmead, Waterlooville, Hants. PO7 6LA UK | last updated: 05/10/2006