Individual lifestyles choices are often blamed by government and industry for high community cancer rates. This was the case in Sarnia, Fort Chipewyan and Belledune.
Despite decades of evidence, health officials still can’t accept that occupational and environmental exposure to industrial pollutants are major causes of cancer not only for workers directly exposed but those living beyond factory gates.
With less than 10% of cancers linked to genetic mutation, the consensus among cancer experts is that cancer is a preventable disease. It’s high time that public health policymakers see cancer as a preventable disease too.
The development of effective cancer prevention programs has to begin with good information about cancer rates and risk factors where they occur – at the individual and community level. That’s why we want the Department of Health to start reporting cancer rates on a community basis.
Reporting cancer and other disease conditions at the provincial level fails to identify at-risk communities and delays the development and implement of cancer risk intervention program for those communities.
“Cancer can be prevented” should join the rallying cry of “cancer can be beaten”.
Inka Milewski is the Conservation Council of New Brunswick’s Health Watch Director.