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By phase-out of all forms of incineration, phase-out of the manufacture of PVC and by bringing the practice of open waste burning to an end, considerable progress can be made toward eliminating the creation and release of dioxins.


A Great Opportunity to Protect the Food Supply and Prevent Cancer


The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently published “Dioxins and Dioxin-Like Compounds in the Food Supply:  Strategies to Decrease Exposure”.  The critical message of this report is that current levels of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds (DLC) in animal fat foods impose a significant health risk upon the general public.  Cancer and endocrine disruption disorders are dioxin-associated diseases of especial concern.


During the past decade, it had become widely accepted that consumption of animal fat constituted a risk factor for certain cancers, including:  colorectal cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.  Researchers, who observed different cancer rates among populations with markedly different diets, were the first to recognize an association between fat consumption and these cancers.  The American Institute for Cancer Research published “Food Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer:  a global perspective” in 1997, clearly setting forth the above described association.  The link between fat consumption and cancer was thought to involve the elevation of levels of sex hormones circulating in the bodies of those who consumed substantial quantities of animal fat.  Estrogen exposure has been shown to contribute to increased rates of certain cancers.


Considering the information provided in the US EPA’s dioxin reassessment and the Institute of Medicine report it is quite clear that animal fat itself, pure, uncontaminated animal fat, does not impose the level of cancer risk previously attributed to that substance.  The elevated incidence of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer observed in fat consumers is a result of exposure to the fat itself, plus all of the carcinogenic chemical contaminants of the fat. 


By taking steps to protect pasture, forage crops and livestock feeds from persistent organochloride pollutant (POPs) contamination a substantive portion of the cancer risk associated with animal fat intake can be eliminated.  This knowledge removes much of the onus from animal fat in so far as cancer risk is concerned.


Those farmers who produce milk, beef and other animal fat containing foods should seize this opportunity to make the public aware of the great improvement in the quality of the food supply that can be accomplished by efforts to minimize the release of POPs to the environment.  Farmers who lead the way in advocating for policy changes such as the banning of open waste burning and the Stockholm Convention on POPs can be heroes to American consumers.  Industrial and residential releases of cancer causing pollutants can be greatly minimized.  Animal fat foods can become more healthful to eat.  


Donald L. Hassig, Cancer Action NY, 531 CR 28, Ogdensburg, NY 13669; 315 393-1975; canceraction@hotmail.com


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