“Cancer is the leading cause of death in economically developed countries.” That disturbing statement from the March/April 2011 issue of the Global Cancer Statistics report is in itself unsettling, but although the report attributes the increase in cancer to the “aging and growth of the world population,” what it fails to mention is that one of our greatest assets – technology – is a huge contributor to the growing number of cancer cases.
While the GCS report references the numerous forms of cancer and suggests that cancer could be prevented through the application of diverse control factors including adhering to a healthy diet and regular exercise, the report makes no mention of cast-off electronic gadgets that could be a contributing factor to the disease.
An article recently published in The Washington Post is a real eye opener, “Replacing Old Smart Phones with Newer Models Creates Environmental Problems.” Read it. It may rock your world as it did mine.
I am not a medical professional, but I have long been aware that what we eat as well as environmental factors contribute to cancer. However, I was surprised to learn about the health hazards related to improper dismantaling and disposal of technical devices. The Post article, written by Brian Palmer, clearly explains how electronic refuse, accumulating in landfills, is contaminating our water, soil, and air, and in so doing is contributing to the increase in all kinds of cancers. Breast cancer. Prostate cancer. Lung cancer. You name it. Palmer’s article further states that, “In 2006 the United Nations estimated that we discarded between 20 million and 50 million tons of e-waste globally.” That’s a lot of e-garbage. Is it any wonder that so many people are fighting or dying from cancer?
Just four days ago, an acquaintance of mine succumbed to cancer. Like many cases that I have learned about, hers had been in remission for years and then returned with a vengeance. After hearing the news that she had deceased, I began to think about how many other people I know personally who are fighting The Big C. The total was very unsettling. Just looking at the past year, I counted six relatives who I know are fighting cancer or are currently in remission, and two friends who have died of the disease within the past 12 months. Two others relatives died two years ago, and an acquaintance and very close friend passed away in 2005.
Cancer does not discriminate. Consider the prominent personalities that the disease claimed during the past decade: Dennis Hopper 2009, Patrick Swayze 2009, Farrah Fawcett 2009, Paul Newman 2008, Eartha Kitt 2008, , Peter Jennings 2005, Ted Kennedy 2009, and Anne Bancroft 2005.
In Palmer’s article smart phones are not the only culprit. He points out that environmental studies indicate that the chemicals contained in numerous electronic devices including televisions, computers, and computer accessories make up a significant total of municipal solid waste in landfills; and lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and other harmful elements contaminate our environment.
Cancer causing chemicals are in the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. Consumer products that we come into contact with daily – like pesticides and cleaning products – include cancerous agents. Even Johnson’s Baby Shampoo is reported to contain cancer causing chemicals.
I dislike ending this post on a sour note of doom and gloom, but when I study the data, it makes me wonder if we all are unwilling players in a game of Cancer roulette.