Is anyone protecting us?

By Margo Simon Golden, MPH

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, not many things shock me anymore. Yet, at a Silent Spring Institute forum and in a recent interview, Margaret Kripke, Ph.D., a co-author of the April 2010 President’s Cancer Panel report, Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now, did just that.

Dr. Kripke, a prominent immunology cancer researcher at University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said that before beginning this groundbreaking report, she was skeptical about the link between environmental toxins and cancer. She erroneously believed that consumer products were tested for toxic chemicals before they were put on the market. She thought that if a chemical was a known carcinogen, it would be regulated or banned. She further assumed that if something were regulated in the United States, that those regulations would be enforced. Dr. Kripke stated that all it took was one meeting to learn that those assumptions were simply not true. Dr. Kripke quickly went from being a skeptic to a crusader for toxic chemical reform.