November 2010 was designated as Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM) by the Lung Cancer Alliance. While lung cancer is widely viewed as a “smoker’s cancer,” the disease kills more than 17,000 non-smokers in the U.S. each year, including an estimated 5 to 7 percent of diagnoses that can be attributed to asbestos exposure. Even worse, individuals who have been exposed to asbestos are five times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who have not been exposed.
With these figures in mind, the Ban Asbestos Now team joined in many of the conversations surrounding lung cancer issues throughout LCAM, including distributing news and educational materials, helping participants contact Congress and raising much-needed attention and support for a disease that kills more people than breast, prostate, colon and pancreas cancers combined.
There also were a number of reports and new initiatives that emerged during LCAM. A few of the major headlines that appeared included:
- Cries for Congress to reform TSCA and shift the safety burden back to the chemical industry, which would allow known carcinogens like asbestos to be better regulated. Experts pointed out that “asbestos is the perfect example of what’s wrong with the existing federal law on chemical safety.”
- A new study showing that using CT scans to check high-risk patients for lung cancer can reduce lung cancer deaths by 20%.
- Health experts urging the National Cancer Institute to better investigate and eliminate avoidable causes of cancer and recognize that, in addition to smoking, exposure to carcinogens in the home and workplace are also significant causes of lung cancer.
- A four-part, feature series on AOL News titled “The Killer in the Attic” that brought attention to the cancer-causing effects of asbestos and how the material is still widely present and used in the U.S. today.
- A House resolution passing that officially declared September 26 as National Mesothelioma Awareness Day.
In all, LCAM was clearly a success by bringing so much attention to the safety, policy and health issues surrounding lung cancer.