One of the enduring modern myths is that there is an epidemic of cancer caused by exposures to synthetic chemicals. In a superb article, New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata takes a look at what is known about the alleged "links" between cancer and exposure to synthetic chemicals. It turns out that it is very hard to establish any link between exposures to trace amounts of synthetic chemicals and cancer.
Kolata points out, if tobacco-related cancers are removed from the statistics, that cancer rates in the U.S. have been dropping for the past 50 years. Keep in mind that this drop in cancer rates occured as thousands of new chemicals were developed and introduced into the marketplace. British epidemiologist Richard Peto, who first established the link been smoking and cancer tells Kolata: "Pollution is not a major determinant of U.S. cancer rates."
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