Cancer is a major cause of illness and death in this country and around the world and has been for decades. Back in the 1970s, the United States declared war on cancer. Are we winning or losing this war?

Researchers have made amazing progress when it comes to diagnosing cancer early. But cancer prevention has not received the same research attention. We speak with one of the country’s foremost cancer epidemiologists about the secret history of the war on cancer. Why has it placed so little emphasis on environmental factors?

Guest: Devra L. Davis, PhD, MPH, Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. She is also Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Her book is: The Secret History of the War on Cancer (Basic Books, 2007). Web site:

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  1. Derryck

    I stopped using “normal” products for my body a couple of years back. I still use soap (but with a minimal number of ingredients) and deodorant (without aluminium) or sometimes just lemon. For skin I use store-bought olive oil with a scent of lavendar aromatic oil.
    I recall an elderly person telling me about the importance of only putting on your skin what you would be comfortable putting into your mouth.
    Great show.

  2. Theresa

    After listening to your show on cancer, I was shocked to realize that I probably was moisturizing my face and body with a product that contains a cancer causing agent. I ran out to the local health food store and purchased a cream that was loaded with vitamin e. I wonder how many of the other products I use has a carcinogen in it and how I would truly know what I was using?

  3. Mark Sweeney

    I am shocked at the lack of science supporting Dr. Devra L. Davis’ claims on so many points covered on your show.
    While Dr. Davis rightly points out that unnecessary exposure to radiation is something to be concerned with, she does so in alarmist tones that she has to backpedal from to reassure the audience that diagnostic CT scans are appropriate. Unfortunately, the lay audience will still be unable to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate diagnostic CT scans.
    And can we please dispense with the radiation equivalency standard of “chest X-rays”. How many of you has had a chest X-ray in the last year? 10 years? Why not use “frequent flier miles” for radiation equivalency for radiation dose? After all, cosmic radiation, something nearly all air travelers are exposed to, is also a form of ionizing radiation.
    Or why not simply use the international standards of roentgen for radiation levels, and REM or sievert for dose? That would be a scientific standard.
    Also, Dr. Davis was a bit selective in her scientific literature support for the supposed electromagnetic fields link to cancer. Perhaps she missed the seminal study on the subject by none other than the National Academy of Sciences, published in 1995, which concluded that “Based on a comprehensive evaluation of published studies relating to the effects of power-frequency electric and magnetic fields on cells, tissues, and organisms (including humans), the conclusion of the committee is that the current body of evidence does not show that exposure to these fields presents a human-health hazard. Specifically, no conclusive and consistent evidence shows that exposures to residential electric and magnetic fields produce cancer, adverse neurobehavioral effects, or reproductive and developmental effects.” There are no followup studies anywhere that contradict the NAS or have caused the NAS to revise their conclusions. Why would Dr. Davis first ignore this important study and then cherry pick one report that supports her argument?
    And lastly, the idea that there is a lack of information about asbestos risk is absolutely ridiculous. Dr. Davis pulled one asbestiform mineral that at this point may not be covered under EPA warnings but failed to mention that grunerite, tremolite, crocidolite, actinolite, chrysotile, and riebeckite are covered. Why bring up one asbestiform mineral that constituted less than one percent of installed asbestos?
    Your guest has serious credibility issues.
    Thank you for an otherwise interesting show. I heard it on WUNC in Durham, North Carolina.

  4. Larry M.

    Yor show is always extraordinary but #692 was very important it seemed a watershed article. I was with my father when he had a CAT scan.
    He has Alzheimers is 87 and needed my assistance to keep his hands behind his head for the procedure. I was right next to the machine as he passed through it numerous times. The attendants gave me a lead shield to wear but…?
    I am happy to report Dad is in good health but I feel the diagnosis could have been done with ultra sound preventing his anxiety and the need for my exposure.
    Please re run this article as I feel it is very important. Thanks Larry M.

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