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To: ENVI Committee
Re: Please ensure the recognition of the role of environmental and occupational factors in cancer and the primary prevention of cancer

ENVI Vote on Commission communication on Action against Cancer: European Partnership (7 April, 2010)

Please ensure the recognition of the role of environmental and occupational factors in cancer and the primary prevention of cancer

Dear Member of the ENVI Committee,

One in ten women in Europe are getting breast cancer. Male reproductive health problems which heighten men’s risk for testicular and prostate cancer later in life also seem to be rising across Europe. Cancers in children are increasing by a shocking 1% every year. Altogether it is estimated that one in three people in the EU will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. The European Parliament has a unique opportunity to guide future EU action to reduce cancer and respond to increasing environmental health science which shows that chemical pollution in our environment and occupational settings plays a role, as recognised in previous European Parliament resolutions.

The environmental contamination factors for cancer include exposure to the following in water, air, soil, food and physical items:

  • Cancer causing chemicals (carcinogens)
  • DNA altering chemicals (mutagens)
  • Hormone disrupting chemicals (endocrine disruptors)

as well as the more well known factors such as tobacco smoke, radiation, and UV rays.

In order to prevent further rising of cancer rates, it is therefore crucial to not only consider individual lifestyle changes and screening, but to clearly include environmental and occupational, and specifically chemical pollution and non-voluntary exposures, especially those of fetuses and young children, in cancer prevention programmes and actions.

At the next ENVI meeting on 7 April, you can help to ensure that action on environmental contamination factors in cancer is given the importance it deserves. The undersigned organisations call on you to support the amendments listed below to the Draft Report by Alojz Peterle on Action Against Cancer.

We urge you to vote for wording that clearly expresses the need to address the environmental and occupational dimension in preventing cancer. This concerns particularly involuntary exposures to harmful chemicals linked to cancer so that primary prevention is distinct from early detection (screening), and individual lifestyle measures.

Please vote for amendments (see attached Voting Recommendation sheet):

3, 6-9, 12, 13, 20, 21, 24, 36, 44, 45, 54, 55, 57, 59, 62-64, 66, 73, 80, 81.

These amendments listed above

  • Define ‘environmental factors’; and distinguishes primary and secondary prevention
  • Ensure prevention includes work on environmental contamination factors
  • Call for research on environmental factors, and resources on environmental prevention
  • Call for swifter action on the Community Strategy on Endocrine Disruptors

We hope you will agree that every effort is needed to reduce the breast cancer epidemic, combat testicular cancer and reduce childhood cancer rates, and this includes addressing environmental and chemical contamination as part of the wider effort.


Genon Jensen, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)

On behalf of:

  • The European Respiratory Society (ERS)
  • Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF)
  • Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH)
  • International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE)
  • USA Cancer Prevention Coalition
  • Pesticide Action Network Europe
  • UK Alliance for Cancer Prevention
  • Action for Breast Cancer Foundation, Malta
  • Stichting Ecobaby, the Netherlands
  • Initiativ Liewensunfank, Luxembourg
  • AKUT Environmental Health and Indoor Air Quality, Luxembourg
  • Association for Research and Treatments Against Cancer (ARTAC), France
  • CHEMTrust, UK
  • Cancer Prevention and Education Society, UK
  • Pesticide Action Network, UK
  • Breast Cancer UK
  • Doctors for a Healthy Environment, Austria (ISDE Austria)
  • Foundation Against Cancer, Belgium
  • Federation Inter-Environment Wallonie (IEW), Belgium
  • Flanders Physicians for the Environment (VLAMM), Belgium
  • National Center of Public Health Protection (NCPHP), Sofia, Bulgaria
  • Clean Air Action Group, Hungary

Last updated on 13 June 2011

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The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


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