Essays on cancer action network

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Essays on cancer action network

What is the precautionary principle?

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The Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle summarizes the principle this way: When the health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action. Is there some special meaning for "precaution"?

It's the common sense idea behind many adages: The ethical assumption behind the precautionary principle is that humans are responsible to protect, preserve, and restore the global ecosystems on which all life, including our own, depends. Why should we take action before science tells us what is harmful or what is causing harm?

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Sometimes if we wait for certainty it is too late. Scientific standards for demonstrating cause and effect are very high. For example, smoking was strongly suspected of causing lung cancer long before the link was demonstrated conclusively.

By then, many smokers had died of lung cancer.

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But many other people had already quit smoking because of the growing evidence that smoking was linked to lung cancer. These people were wisely exercising precaution despite some scientific uncertainty.

When evidence gives us good reason to believe that an activity, technology, or substance may be harmful, we should act to prevent harm. If we always wait for scientific certainty, people may suffer and die and the natural world may suffer irreversible damage.

How do we implement the precautionary principle? The precautionary principle is most powerful when it serves as a guide to making wiser decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Any action that contributes to preventing harm to humans and the environment, learning more about the consequences of actions, and acting appropriately is precautionary.

Precaution does not work if it is only a last resort and results only in bans or moratoriums. It is best linked to these implementation methods: Why do we need the precautionary principle now? The effects of careless and harmful activities have accumulated over the years.

Humans and the rest of the natural world have a limited capacity to absorb and overcome this harm. There are plenty of warning signs: Cancer, asthma, Alzheimer's disease, autism, birth defects, developmental disabilities, diabetes, endometriosis, infertility, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease are becoming increasingly common.

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In laboratory animals, wildlife, and humans, considerable evidence documents a link between levels of environmental contamination and malignancies, birth defects, reproductive problems, impaired behavior, and impaired immune system function. Scientists' growing understanding of how biological systems develop and function leads to similar conclusions.

Other warning signs are the dying off of plant and animal species, the destruction of ecosystems, the depletion of stratospheric ozone, and the likelihood of global warming. Serious, evident effects such as endocrine disruption, climate change, cancer, and the disappearance of species can seldom be linked decisively to a single cause.

We have lots of environmental regulations. Aren't we already exercising precaution?Browse the WebMD Questions and Answers A-Z library for insights and advice for better health.

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Evelyn Saavedra leads our volunteer action team in Denver, Colorado. She loves her work and the impact it has in helping end suffering and death from cancer. Now, she wants to tell you why it's so easy for you to do it, too.

Essays on cancer action network

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