Protecting the Public From Cancer

04/06/2015 03:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2015

The World Health Organization (WHO), issued a report saying Glyphosate, an herbicide widely marketed by Monsanto Co. and other companies likely has the potential to cause cancer in humans, a World Health Organization agency said according to the Wall Street Journal.

Recently on the Fortune magazine website, Laura Lorenzetti reported about Monsanto company's CEO Hugh Grant and the World Health Organization's report on Glyphosate:

"While CEO Hugh Grant highlighted the company's new seed products that will spur growth in coming months, he couldn't quite shake the concerns circulating the Roundup product."

When asked directly about the issue, Fortune magazine reports:

"Grant said he didn't see the issue impacting the business, and that the company will continue to support the product. He called it 'unfortunate noise' and a 'distraction rather than a reality.'"

Yikes ... Really? Cancer an "unfortunate noise and "a distraction?"

Hugh Grant's unfeeling sentiments as reported by Fortune, while personally painful to read, more importantly represent a broken national model as to why we may not be getting ahead on the war on cancer. There is no sense of responsibility or understanding that leadership on all fronts need to be working to protect the public from cancer.

Cancer, while touching us all in personal and unique ways, is a global burden. We all can have a role in impacting increasing incidences of cancer; leadership on all levels, both legislatively and in corporate America, must be engaged to do whatever they can to work toward reducing cancer risk.

Increasing evidence points to the fact that more than 50 percent of all cancers are preventable, meaning that most cancers are not exclusively related to inherited genes. If we are ever going to be able to get a handle on cancer, we must stay focused on protecting the next generation from cancer. We can accomplish that by understanding the impact of what we do today.

Consumers are not protected from harmful chemicals in cleaning agents, personal care products, cosmetics, and many other products.

For example, corporations are not required to list the ingredients their products contain, even if those ingredients cause short or long-term health effects. They are not asked create a product with safer ingredients. The call now is to protect the public from cancer, especially in light of evidence-based science that indicates that many cancers are preventable. Because of that we need everyone to take charge when it comes to protecting the public from cancer. When we as a society can place a speed bump in the way of cancer we should be doing all we can to reduce if not remove cancer risks.

While Less Cancer initiated National Cancer Prevention Day and the National Cancer Prevention Panel, the state of New York is cutting-edge in its leadership as the first state to establish a Cancer Prevention Summit.

The mission of New York's Cancer Prevention Summit is to transform the cancer agenda for the next generation. The summit will take place on May 20 in New York City. The agenda will highlight the prevention of cancer as an urgent public health priority and the roles different sectors can play to help prevent cancer and address health disparities in cancer prevention.

New York State Health Commissioner Howard A. Zucker, MD, JD, has taken steps to ensure that speakers at the Summit will include cancer prevention researchers and medical and public health practitioners. The latest research in nutrition, exercise, genetics, vaccines, and chemical exposures and cancer risk will be presented.

I am proud that Less Cancer board member Margaret I. Cuomo, MD, will be speaking along with Graham Colditz, MD, DrPH, who is on the Less Cancer advisory board.

New York is leading by example to create a collaborative approach to cancer prevention. Similar efforts should be implemented in all states to develop strategies that will protect their citizens from cancer.

States have a chance to accomplish what the federal government has been unable to do. Like New York, each state can focus on the prevention of cancer.