Environmental Cancer Risk

The President’s Cancer Panel sounds the alarm on environmental cancer risks.

A page from the 2008-2009 annual report of the President's Cancer Panel.

A page from the 2008-2009 annual report of the President's Cancer Panel.

The big messages we tend to get on cancer: Don’t smoke. Don’t have cancer in the family. Don’t get sunburned.

A controversial new report out last week from the President’s Cancer Panel says we need to pull the curtain back much wider to look at potential carcinogens in our food, our water, our cleaning cabinets, our environment.

Cancer caused by environmental factors has been “grossly underestimated,” said the panel, with a tough eye on the untested sea of chemicals that surround us.

The American Cancer Society has pushed back.

This Hour, On Point: why we get cancer, and the threats in our environment.


Margaret Kripke, immunologist, professor, and chair emerita at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  She’s a member of the President’s Cancer Panel. That panel’s new report, out last week, is “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now.”

Graham Colditz, epidemiologist and associate director of prevention and control at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University School of Medicine. He blogs at “Cancer News in Context.”

Sandra Steingraber, ecologist, author, and cancer survivor. She has been hailed as the “new Rachel Carson” by the Sierra Club. She is author of “Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment,” and the subject of a new documentary based on her book.


Watch the trailer for the documentary Living Downstream:

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