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.
Information is the keyWithout essential information (and adequate resources) citizens cannot take, or be expected to take, either individual or collective responsibility for disease prevention. Without information we have no choice but to remain:
- vulnerable to exposure
- ignorant about risk
- powerless to choose.
Sources of informationWhere industry and government have failed in their responsibilities regarding provision of public information about human and environmental health hazards, comparatively less well-resourced citizens have taken on that responsibility themselves. Dedicating a huge effort in time and energy, national, regional and local non-profit, non-governmental organisations endeavour to fill important gaps in public and consumer information by:
- producing information (print and electronic)
- conducting awareness-raising campaigns.
Citizen actionSome recent breast cancer related actions taken by citizens include:
- The Ban Lindane Campaign: A coalition of union and campaigning organisations succeeded in having a pesticide linked to breast cancer incidence banned from garden and agricultural use in 2000.
- 'Think Before You Pink' Campaign: The public service union (UNISON) and Women's Environmental Network (WEN) directed a postcard campaign (October 2004) at major cosmetics companies. It questioned their support of the corporate-driven 'Pink Ribbon Campaign' (which promised a percentage of sales for research) while producing and selling products containing carcinogens and EDCs, and reminded target companies that 'safer alternatives are available. It's time for companies to phase out these chemicals'.
- A Bio-monitoring Survey: 'Bio-monitoring' is the scientific testing of biological samples e.g. blood or urine, to identify the presence and levels of certain substances in the body. In partnership with the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) and The Co-operative Bank, WWF conducted a biomonitoring survey in 2003. The aim of the survey was to raise awareness about the presence of specific manmade chemicals in everyday products and situations and the extent to which these contaminate people.
The Paris AppealIn May 2004 a documented appeal was made to national decision makers, international organisations, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) to apply the precautionary principle to chemicals which constitute a danger to health and to support the proposed new EU chemicals legislation (REACH).
The Paris Appeal has already been signed by numerous international scientists, Nobel Prize winners, 400 non-government organisations and 90,000 EU citizens. It has also been signed by two million doctors representing the Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME).
The Human Rights Act
Incorporated into the UK legal system since 2000, the Human Rights Act provides the appropriate framework for citizens deciding to take the 'civil action' path to gain public attention and progress for primary prevention or for related issues such as 'right to know' (RTK).With no sign of leadership from government regarding primary prevention, and little evidence of a move towards safer, carcinogen-free developments from industry, it is clearly the responsibility of informed citizens to draw attention to, and gain support for, the primary prevention of breast cancer from those who influence policy, and from policy makers at all levels of government.
Little has been done to prevent exposure to carcinogenic chemicals in the environment, despite ample evidence that chemical pollution of our air, water, food and the workplace is the major cause of cancer. On the contrary, government, industry and a small coterie of scientists have combined to stymie efforts to introduce preventive measures, such as strict pollution control standards. But cancer remains a preventable disease. It is up to citizens to push for action.
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: 05/10/2006