This month, a special cancer panel appointed by President Bush presented
its findings to President Obama. It warned that environmentally caused
cancers are "grossly underestimated." But it's not just cancer that
troubles some health professionals, says Dr. Kristen Welker-Hood,
director of Environment and Health Programs for Physicians for
The range of potential problems is vast, she
"There can be Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), memory problems or
problems with the hormone system. There can be infertility issues; there
can be respiratory or cardiovascular issues or even metabolic. For
example, the development of type 2 diabetes."
The report says the public remains largely unaware that children are far
more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults and
that Americans are bombarded with them, even before they are born.
According to Welker-Hood, the President's Cancer Panel "got it right" in
calling for a precautionary approach to reduce exposures, even if
questions still exist about whether certain chemicals or radio waves
"The thing that I would love to see a report come out and talk about
also, is the other things that can happen in the human body because of
chemical exposure, not just cancer. That's not the only thing we care
Health educator and radio host Camilla Rees says the eventual
development of cancer is only one concern. More immediate symptoms are
"We cannot only be focusing on the long-term effects like the potential
for cancers through DNA breaks and other mechanisms, but we need to also
be thinking about the acute symptoms that people experience."
The report, "Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk - What We Can Do Now,"
is available from the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services at http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf