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Editorial Issue 72

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 72 - January 2002

I have been thinking of late that everyone around me and my colleagues seems to be either getting cancer or dying of cancer. In fact, this deeply distressing state of affairs is not my imagination, but is borne out by official cancer statistics.

According to the latest national governmental statistics, in 1997 there were nearly 260,000 new cancer cases (not counting non-melanoma skin cancer) registered in the UK. The lifetime risk of developing cancer now stands at more than one in three!

Furthermore, survival and mortality rates are not very encouraging, either, with the five-year relative survival rate for men for all cancers taken together equal to just over 31 per cent; for women only 43 per cent for England and Wales. (The discrepancies in survival is accounted for by the higher relative survival rates for breast cancer compared to lung cancer.) These survival rates, when expressed as mortality rates, mean that 69% of men diagnosed with cancer die within five years as do 57% of women.

In fact, cancer is the cause of one quarter of all deaths in the UK, outnumbering, for people less than 75 years, deaths from heart disease and stroke. In 1999 there were 152,500 deaths from cancer; 22 per cent from lung cancer and 26 percent from bowel, breast and prostate cancers. In people under the age of 65, a staggering 36 per cent of deaths are due to cancer!

These statistics are endless; however their translation into people we know – our friends, family, friends of friends and colleagues who are suffering and in many cases dying way before their time creates an horrific ripple effect upon all of us.

I know that just taking our small organization of fewer than 10 people, every week we routinely encounter people we know, or people we speak to who have either just been diagnosed, are struggling to survive or have lost their battle with cancer. A few of these people are elderly; however, the majority are in the full flow of their lives, in their 30s, 40s or 50s with children, sometimes very young babies. Every statistic represents a loved one.

The statistics weren't always one in three. In 1970 the chances of getting cancer were one in six; now they are one in three. Prior to the 'war on cancer' declared by Richard Nixon, and certainly for my parent's generation, cancer was mainly reserved for the over 65s and 70s and 80s. However, the people now being diagnosed and dying are much younger, and this 'epidemic' has been occurring at a startling rate, much too quickly to be accounted for by genetic factors. And, since the percentage of people smoking (the most important environmental cause of cancer, linked to one third of cancer deaths) has declined, it would appear to most insightful people that the causes of the rising incidence of cancers around us must be overwhelmingly due to environmental factors, of which there are a plethora of sources.

To cite the most obvious candidate sources of cancer, as rehearsed with nauseating regularity within Positive Health, these include carcinogenic chemicals used in the home, carcinogenic chemicals used in agriculture (pesticides, herbicides, nitrites) and industry (lead, arsenic, chromium) chemicals and substances used in medicine (mercury, radiation from isotopes, X rays and diagnostic tests and medical treatment for cancer) and environmental chemicals and emanations (radon, power lines, mobile phones, microwaves). Just the other night there was an in-depth report on Newsnight about dangerously high levels of dioxins in ash from incinerated household waste, which has been spread about the country in bricks and roads.

The scandal in my opinion is that precious little is being done to clean up our environment, and ultimately prevent cancer. There is always much talk of spending more money to 'treat' cancer (meaning more chemotherapy, more surgeons, more radiotherapy), not better nutrition and diet, or replenishing our soil with depleted minerals such as selenium.

Before too long, if a proper, multi-faceted policy, including the industrial and environmental aspects of preventing cancer is not implemented, we will all be getting cancer and dying before our children grow up. What a squandered opportunity!


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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