Thanks to Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times ("New alarm bells about chemicals and cancer") for telling readers about a report on chemicals and cancer released last week by the President's Cancer Panel.
I had never heard of this panel—appointed during the Bush Administration, no less—and went right to its 2008-2009 annual report (PDF).
The Panel says that the "risk of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated," that "nearly 80,000 chemicals [are] on the market in the United States, many of which are ... understudied and largely unregulated," and that "the public remains unaware ... that children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults."
evidence suggests that some environmental agents may initiate or promote cancer by disrupting normal immune and endocrine system functions. The burgeoning number and complexity of known or suspected environmental carcinogens compel us to act to protect public health, even though we may lack irrefutable proof of harm.
I'm guessing this report will cause a furor. Why? "Lack irrefutable proof" means the science isn't there. In this situation, the Panel advises precaution. Check out these examples selected from the recommendations: