chapter  Chapter 1
19 Pages

Losing the War Against Cancer: Who’s to Blame and What to Do about it

WithSamuel S. Epstein

With more than 900,000 new cases and 450,000 US deaths in 1988, cancer has reached epidemic proportions, with an incidence of one in three and a mortality of one in four. The overall cancer “cure rate,” as measured by survival for more than five years following diagnosis, is currently 50 percent for whites, but only 38 percent for blacks. Living near petrochemical and certain other industries in highly urbanized communities increases cancer risks, as demonstrated by the clustering of excess cancer rates. High levels of toxic and carcinogenic chemicals are deliberately and also accidentally discharged by a wide range of industries into the air of surrounding communities. The lifestyle theory was advocated in 1981, dealing with causes of cancer in the United States, in which they denied evidence of increasing cancer rates other than for lung cancer, which was largely ascribed to tobacco without adequate consideration of the importance of community and occupational exposure to carcinogens.