Hightower Corner

Let me hit you with two facts. Since about 1950, some 70,000 new chemical compounds have been introduced into our environment. Fact number two: Since about 1950, the number of breast cancer cases has increased from one in 20 women to one in eight -- a 150 percent increase.

Now go ahead and call me a madman, but I think fact B might be linked to fact A. When trying to figure out the cause of an illness, medical researchers have common-sense rule of thumb. They say, "When you hear hoofbeats, think of horses."

Well, more and more researchers, doctors and patients are convinced that the hoofbeats they hear in America's growing epidemic of breast cancer come from a toxic line of chemical horses called organochlorines -- nasty stuff like DDT, PCBs, dioxins, Agent Orange and thousands of their lesser-known chemical cousins.

These chemical nasties were developed in World War II to make poison gas --poison gas! Ever since, they've been mass-produced for use by The Four Ps -- the pesticide, plastic, paint and paper industries. Thirteen million tons of organochlorines are now produced in North America each year; much of that ends up in our water, air, soil, food -- and our bodies.

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Breast cancer will strike 200,000 American women this year, and kill 50,000 of them. Practically everyone knows someone who's a victim of it. Yet the medical establishment -- which has some unholy links to the chemical producers -- has pitifully underfunded research into a disease that is the second-largest killer of our mamas, sisters, spouses, daughters and friends. And what little research they do focuses on the blame-the-victim theories of breast cancer: heredity, fatty diet and that old catch-all, hormonal changes.

But more and more evidence is creeping out that the real culprits are the organochlorines -- and those corporations that profit from them.

To learn more about the environmental causes of cancer and what you can do to fight it, call the National Breast Cancer Coalition at (202) 296-7477.

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