The Unsung Epidemic

by Robert Hunziker

Nearly every American family has a cancer victim!

Chronic disease is the biggest epidemic ever faced. Yet, even though it touches almost every family, people are not tuned into this epidemic, as such, nor are the causes fully understood by the general public. It haunts society; it’s everywhere; it deforms, debilitates, and incapacitates. Is this the normal course of life or is something in the environment seriously amiss?

A recent Rand Corporation study says that 60% of Americans have one and 40% have multiple chronic conditions: “Nearly 150 million Americans are living with at least one chronic condition; around 100 million of them have more than one. And nearly 30 million are living, day in and day out, with five chronic conditions or more.” (Source: Chronic Conditions in America: Price and Prevalence, Rand Review, July 2017)

Chronic diseases are taking the country to its knees, though broadly accepted as “one of those things that simply happens over the course of time.” Maybe that’s the wrong conclusion! Conversely, people should demand to know the root causes of chronic diseases, inclusive of arthritis, asthma, cancer, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Is there a common link or a rogue externality behind this humongous devastating epidemic of chronic conditions haunting people’s lives?

At the beginning of the 20th century, infectious diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia, or diarrheal were the leading causes of death. Infectious diseases are transmitted from person to person. In contrast, by the 21st century, chronic diseases replaced infectious diseases. But, chronic diseases are not transmitted person to person. What’s going on?

After all, when 150 million Americans have chronic debilitating conditions, it is patently obvious that something is dead wrong. One hundred fifty million is a knock in the noggin that something is radically amiss.  Maybe this: “Humans emit more than 250 billion tonnes of chemical substances a year, in a toxic avalanche that is harming people and life everywhere on the planet.” (Source: Scientist Categorize Earth as a Toxic Planet, Phys Org, February 7th 2017). Is this the rogue externality?

Chemical pesticides are sprayed everywhere, all across the planet. The damage shows up in deficiencies in nutritional crops. According to U.S. governmental estimates, mineral content found in fruit and vegetables has dropped 76% over 50 years. So, those veggies you are eating today only have 24% of the nutritional mineral value that your parents enjoyed.

It is well known that pesticides compromise soil conditions, degrading nutritional value. It not only depletes nutritional value, it also contaminates food, which ends up on grocery store shelves. Consistently, pesticide residue is found in apples, baby food, bread, cereal bars, fresh salmon, lemons, lettuce, peaches, nectarines, potatoes, and strawberries, amongst other edibles.

More to the point, according to The Pesticides Literature Review/Toronto – The Ontario College of Family Physicians: “People should reduce their exposure to pesticides because of links to serious illnesses. Results of this landmark study found consistent evidence of serious health risks such as cancer, nervous system diseases and reproductive problems in people exposed to pesticides…through home and garden exposure.”

Similar research has increasingly linked pesticide exposure to more and more cases of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s, childhood leukemia, lymphoma, asthma, etc.  In point of fact, women with breast cancer are 5-to-9xs more likely to have pesticide residues in their blood.

The Pesticides Literature Review report “Systematic Review of Pesticide Human Health Effects” examined 265 individual studies of pesticides on human health, concluding that all classes of pesticides are linked to serious harm to humans.

Thus and therefore, based upon the evidence presented herein, the world is poisoning itself with chemicals and thus essentially committing suicide without so much as a peep of concern from regulators, i.e., the U.S. government, that the public is intentionally exposing itself to risks of chronic diseases, amounting to 150,000,000 cases in America alone. Outrageously, this is beyond the pale, certainly outside of agreed standards of decency. Yet, it is reality and ignored.

Far and away, man-made chemicals have the largest footprint on the planet. Yet, one of the least understood and least regulated. According to a United Nations environmental program, most of the chemicals that blanket the planet are never screened for health concerns.

However, nothing is spared. Mercury is found in polar bears. Insect abundance is falling off a cliff, down 75%. Mount Everest’s snow is so polluted it fails to meet EPA drinking water standards. Furniture-making chemicals are found in deep-water squid. According to WWF Global Research, only 14% of chemicals used in the largest volumes have the minimum amount of data in the public domain to make basic safety assessments. Yes, something is amiss!

Postscript: “Despite grave human health risks having been well established for numerous pesticides, they remain in use.” (Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Human Rights Council, UN General Assembly Thirty-fourth Session, Agenda item 3, Jan. 24, 2017)

Robert Hunziker View more

Robert Hunziker
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: roberthunziker@icloud.com

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