The article below is of great interest to me. Since my cancer diagnosis I have thought alot about how important an organic diet free of chemicals and pesticides is to the human body and its ability to ward off cancer cells. The volume of chemicals and pesticides in conventional foods MUST surely have some effect on cancer rates in my opinion.
By JOHN THRELFALL
Jul 05 2006
Worldwide, people are being diagnosed with cancer at rates unprecedented in recorded history. And after examining a staggering 10 million people over a 70-year period, a recent Swedish study found that cancers were “90 percent environmental in origin”-meaning the vast majority develop from exposure to toxins outside our bodies: radiation, tobacco smoke, alcohol, the sun, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, processed foods . . . sadly, the list goes on (and on).
Fortunately, there’s something we can do to help prevent cancer-and according to local author Guy Dauncey, it may be as simple as eating organic.
“I premise all my work on the knowledge that, as humans with all our incredible intelligence, we could live cooperatively and lovingly together on a really beautiful planet,” says Dauncey. “Non-organic food is hurting the whole planet, through lack of nutrients, damage to the soil and to the ecosystem. But we had to work through the industrial age and the very primitive beginning of science and technology to get where we are now-and we’re going to look back on industrial farming as a huge error that we should never have made.”
But don’t peg Dauncey as just another doom-and-gloomer. As well as currently working on a book called Cancer 101: Solutions to a Preventable Epidemic (a follow-up to his award-winning Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to a Global Climate Change), he is also the president of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association and editor of the monthly newsletter EcoNews. More importantly, given his role as keynote speaker at this weekend’s Organic Islands Festival (see sidebar), Dauncey is also the co-chair of Prevent Cancer Now (www.preventcancernow.ca), a new national non-profit agency aimed at eliminating the preventable causes of cancer-including harmful non-organic farming methods.
“Modern farming, with its chemicals and pesticides-which are there purely for the sake of increased yield and increased profit-are not doing us a favour,” Dauncey explains. “Since we started modern farming, the quantity of nutrients in the soil have fallen by an average of 50 percent just since 1950-because farmers are no longer treating the soil with manure and nitrogen-fixing cover crops.”
“Consider selenium,” he continues, “which is a known preventative against cancer. Selenium uptake by plants is inhibited by three things: modern fertilizers, mercury pollution from coal-fired power and acid rain from fossil fuels. In Britain, just since 1978, selenium levels have fallen by almost 50 percent.”
Selenium is just one of the many cancer-fighting elements losing ground to industrial farming; basic mineral content is another. “Researchers in Britain, Canada and America have all reported levels of iron, calcium, sodium, copper and magnesium-as well as selenium-have fallen over the past 50 years.” Dauncey cracks off statistics like a baseball fan would recite RBIs. “Meats and cheeses have lost half their iron; broccoli has lost 63 percent of its calcium; potatoes have lost 100 percent of their vitamin C. The nutrients are just not there, whereas organic farming methods build the soil and retain high mineral levels across the board.”
Put all that into a grocery store context, and it means the non-organic food we’re eating simply isn’t cutting it. “One of the suspicions about why there’s so much obesity right now is that because people are eating nutrient-deprived food [and] our bodies are saying, ‘Eat more, eat more-you’re not getting the nutrients’.” Want an example you can sink your teeth into? Try a Skippy and Wonder Bread sandwich. “You eat a slice of really wholesome organic brown bread, you feel pretty full,” says Dauncey, “but if you eat white bread and processed peanut butter, you don’t feel full, and you want more of it.”
But while Dauncey is full of daunting facts, he does see a silver lining to the dark cloud we’re currently living under. “I work on the basis that there are only two problems in the world,” he chuckles. “One is the sum total of all our social-environmental-economic-corporate-whatever-you-want-to-call-them problems; the second is the belief that we cannot solve them.”
When asked for solutions, Dauncey perks up. “Number one, eat organic food-and I mean fresh, local organic food, not cardboard strawberries from California.” (Think eating organic is too expensive? Dauncey suggests growing your own and cooking from scratch, rather than relying on pre-packaged foods.) “The second thing,” he says, “is to clean the toxins out of your house.” That includes harmful household cleaners, garden pesticides, tobacco smoke, ambient radiation and electro-magnetic exposure from cell phones, power lines and electronic appliances.
Despite our current woes, Dauncey remains optimistic we can find our way to a healthier future. “I’m hopeful that we can find solutions because the solutions are out there,” he concludes. “I know they make rational sense, I know they save us money and can strengthen our economies in a deep sense. If we really want to guide our culture towards what everyone wants-greater joy, happiness and inner peace-you need to remove the toxins from our food, bring back the neighbours, build stronger families, get the cars off the streets so we can talk to each other while walking around, and protect the forests and the soil.”
See? It’s easy. We just have to want it.