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One Battle You Didn’t Choose: Cancer and the Chemicals that Cause It

My best guess is that just about everybody reading this blog article has been affected by cancer either directly or indirectly. I know that guess isn’t very scientific, or actuarial, but it sure will be close. It’s the one diagnosis everybody fears. After a diagnosis leaves you reeling from the unknown, and “it can’t be happening to me” feeling, the next two questions are: what are my chances for survival, and where did it come from? The feeling of doom just seems to settle in until your Oncologist can help you understand what will happen next. You’ll need to listen to your doctor and trust his/her experience; you might also want to consider a second opinion. The other question…..Where did it come from?....... If not from heredity, then the next culprit is carcinogens.carcinogens

A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This definition is offered by Wikipedia. I’m not a chemist to know and understand the science of how it works. Additionally they offer Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, benzene, kepone, EDB, and asbestos which have all been classified as carcinogenic.[6] As far back as the 1930s, industrial smoke and tobacco smoke were identified as sources of dozens of carcinogens, including benzo[a]pyrene, tobacco-specific nitrosamines such as nitrosonornicotine, and reactive aldehydes such as formaldehyde—which is also a hazard in embalming and making plastics. Vinyl chloride, from which PVC is manufactured, is a carcinogen and thus a hazard in PVC production. That’s a lot of chemistry to deal with. Here’s the point we want to make. There are roughly 20,000 deaths annually associated with occupational hazards. That is a number we shouldn’t be happy with. Training is available, and as an employer that training should be made available. An employer should also make a concerted effort to identify any carcinogens associated with the process of or results of the products produced in his plant, and train accordingly.

Cancer did affect my family as I recently lost a brother to this ruthless disease. He was employed in a lab at a paper mill. He was only 60 and getting ready to retire, his wife is now a widow. “”Father’s day” is a painful reminder instead of a celebration, and holidays are empty. We are a large family in a small community, and our faith does help take the edge off. As a safety advocate I would strongly urge you to take a look at your safety program at work, and make sure it includes “Carcinogen safety”. If your company doesn’t have a course, you can take one “on line.” I realize we can’t avoid all, or legislate carcinogens out of existence, but we need to make an effort to understand what and where they are. I would also ask all of you to consider supporting cancer research, or families who struggle with the cost of fighting this formidable opponent.

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