Improving Quality of Life

Environmental Factors

Among the key objectives of the OICC is the goal to address environmental contributors to cancer – through researching the effects of toxic exposures, and through educating the public on how to reduce exposures that promote cancer development and progression.

Environmental Risk Factors and Cancer

Reports by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Canadian researchers indicate that the environmental burden of disease is enormous. Investigators estimate that 3,400 to 10,200 cancer deaths and 8,000 to 24,000 new cases of cancer are directly attributable to exposures to toxins in our environment.

In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that 23 percent of mortality and 24 percent of “disability adjusted life years” are globally linked to preventable environmental risk factors. Health Canada estimates that 10-15 percent of cancers are linked to environmental exposures (including pollution, UV radiation, occupational exposures, and consumer products). The WHO estimates that as many as 10-23 percent of female cancers in developed countries such as Canada are a result of preventable toxic environmental exposures.

While research in this area is considered to be in its early stages and attributable risk is not well quantified, Dr. Samuel Epstein—a specialist in environmental contaminants and cancer for over 40 years—argues that environmental exposure accounts for over 80 percent of cancers.

Voices of Support


“Integrative cancer care enhances conventional therapies and bolsters the prevention of recurrence. In addition, integrative oncology provides systematic strategies to prevent cancer through lifestyle modification, such as nutrition and exercise. Recognizing synergy from a whole systems approach, integrative oncology provides new models for dealing with the epidemic of cancer..”

Stephen Sagar, BSc (Hons), MB, BS, MRCP, FRCR, FRCPC
Radiation Oncologist
Past President, Society of Integrative Oncology
Professor of Oncology, McMaster University

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