The War on Cancer, declared by President Nixon in 1971, has savored few victories. The idea of a cure, presumed just around the corner for decades, seems almost fanciful. With a few notable exceptions, improvements in existing treatment have not translated into significant numbers of lives saved. Indeed, the death rate from cancer is only 6 percent lower than it was in 1950. In 1999, cancer surpassed heart disease as the leading killer of Americans under 85. At present, 45 percent of men and 40 percent of women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lives, a far higher proportion than 50 years ago. as our population ages, the number of people suffering from cancer is expected to jump by 45 percent in the next two decades.

But data from cancer registries—which receive my close attention in Chapter Three—also contain another message: eliminating exposures to carcinogens saves lives.

Sandra Steingraber. Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment  (Foreword to Second Edition). Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition.

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