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White House Cancer Report Urges Chemical Law Overhaul

The President's Cancer Panel says in a new report that the U.S. needs to drastically change how it regulates chemicals and recommends that consumers avoid products that contain certain substances in order to lower cancer risks.

The panel's Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now report looks at how people are exposed to toxins and contaminants though everyday life and though agricultural, medical, manufacturing and other sources.

Some of its recommendations echo the efforts of the recently proposed Safe Chemicals Act, which aims to make sweeping changes to how the U.S. approaches chemicals.

The report says that the federal government needs a more precautionary approach to chemicals that includes taking preventative action when there is uncertainty about a chemical's health effects and require industry to prove that chemicals are safe instead of waiting for a chemical to be proven dangerous.
The report notes that while cancer incidence and mortality have decreased, 41 percent of people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives and there have been unexplained increases in cancers common in children.

Babies, the report says, are being born "pre-polluted" due to parental chemical exposure that is passed onto children while in the womb. Children are also especially vulnerable while in their early years and puberty, the report notes.

Along with a number of policy and research recommendations, the report lists a number of actions that individuals can do to reduce their cancer risk.

The President's Cancer Panel recommends that to reduce the risk for children, individuals should choose foods, products, toys and other items that would minimize exposure to toxins. Parents should avoid being exposed to endocrine-disputing chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) before conception and through pregnancy, the report says.

It also recommends using stainless steel, glass, BPA-free and phthalate-free containers for carrying and storing liquids, and also says that ceramic and glass containers, not plastic, should be used when microwaving foods.

In addition, it also gives a nod to organic food by recommending eating food that was grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and choosing free-range meat that does not contain antibiotics or growth hormones.

As we've covered over and over, BPA is an example of a chemical that is not regulated in any way by U.S. law, but which enough concern has been raised over that retailers and product makers have dumped it from their products in favor of safer materials.

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