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Concessions to Cancer

This world has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. I’ve watched it happen. Many of us cringe at what is the “new normal.” Many of us remember when cancer was a strange thing for a family member to get and when we could lock our kids outside to play and that was an acceptable way to parent. Many of us remember building things out of reclaimed wood before real hammers and nails were deemed too dangerous and kids too irresponsible. I remember when red food dye was found to cause cancer and, for a decade, M&M’s had no red ones in the bag! They weren’t even using the same kind of red dye that was in question, but because consumers were actually scared of cancer, they just stopped with red M&M’s so they wouldn’t lose sales.

Please think about that. In 1976 people were concerned about getting cancer and they did what they needed to do for themselves and their families to AVOID GETTING CANCER. What do you hear most often now? “Everything causes cancer!” with a dismissive wave of the hand. Please stop and think. Stop. And think. A very large company took an ingredient out of their famous candies because they knew that some people would stop buying their candy and even, possibly, because they were concerned about public health. This is absolutely unheard today and we need to do some serious introspection about how we got to place where, literally, it is truth that, “Everything causes cancer,” and we just sit back and let it.

Through the desensitization of the public, companies have no reason at all avoid cancer-causing ingredients. We are completely naïve and bordering on suicidal if we believe that corporations or the FDA are protecting us. If they were protecting us then parabens, BHA, all types of SLS (sodium laurel sulfate- a surfactant or soap), food coloring, and chlorine (one of the most well-known poisons) in our drinking water would have been banned by now if even ever been allowed into our consumption ring.

I am not dramatizing the dangers of these chemicals, either. All of them are well-documented as cancer-causing. No science has denied that. What has been denied, and the job of the FDA comes in here, is how much and often the general public consumes these chemicals due to their prevalence across the board in such a myriad of products. If anyone recognizes this, it’s the FDA. But is does not take rocket science for any of you to walk down an aisle at the grocery store and read labels (you do also need to know the “other” “new” names of these chemicals because they are very often called different things on different labels). You can very easily see that a person could end up with an entire cart of 1-5 known cancer causing chemicals in every product. The main argument for many of these chemicals is that they are at “safe” levels in our food and water. But “safe” levels do not account for them being in every food and in every single soap on the shelves.

Really, the absolute most important question here is- why are ANY cancer causing chemicals ALLOWED on the market?? Why??? I grew up in the 70’s and it was not some disgusting dirty germ-filled world where food was full of bacteria and spoiled quickly. Because that’s what these chemicals do. But we truly cannot say that the chemicals we have allowed have improved any quality of life whatsoever. Again, stop and realize that adding cancer causing chemicals into our ring has not changed life at all. Our food supply is truly no more safe, our soaps don’t work better than they used to, and there are not less germs and bacteria in our world.

Unfortunately, at this point, I don’t think that picketing outside of anywhere is going to change the world or even one company. So I ask that you change your consumption. I ask that you find what we found in the 70’s unacceptable to be unacceptable again. That cancer should not be common and does not have to be. That poisoning our children through blasé attitudes about what they are exposed to just stop. Stop and care.

I began this article because I wanted desperately to write about the extremely frightening rise in skin cancer just since 1992 in our country. I wanted to write about all the possible chemical contributors in your soaps and lotions to this 77% increase in the incidence of skin cancer. But then my research and my anger got the best of me and this just became about all of our societal concessions that we’ve made since I was a kid.

Perk up. Stop conceding to cancer. And expect another article from me

Courtney Henslee