A Wonky Decision That Will Define the Future of Our Food

Governor Inslee Is Now Weighing the Acceptable Cancer Rate for Fish Eaters Against Business Concerns

By Ansel Herz, The Stranger

 

Levi Hastings

Levi Hastings

 

Washington State has two choices: a 10-times-higher rate of cancer among its population, particularly those who eat a lot of fish, or a bedraggled economy. That is, assuming you believe big business in the long-running and little-noticed debate over our “fish consumption rate,” a debate that Governor Jay Inslee is expected to settle, with significant consequence, within the next few weeks.

The phrase “fish consumption rate” sounds arcane and nerdy, for sure, but it really matters, and here’s why: There are a plethora of toxic chemicals—things like PCBs, arsenic, and mercury—that run off from our streets, into our waters, and then into the bodies of fish. The presence of those pollutants puts anyone who eats fish (especially Native American tribes and immigrants with fish-heavy diets) at higher risk of developing cancer.

Knowing this, the state uses an assumed fish consumption rate (FCR) to determine how great cancer risks to the general population are and, in turn, to set water-cleanliness standards that could help lower cancer rates. Currently, Washington’s official fish consumption rate is just 6.5 grams per day—less than an ounce of fish. Picture a tiny chunk of salmon that could fit on your fingertip. That’s how much fish the state officially believes you eat each day. But that number is based on data from 40 years ago. Everyone admits it’s dangerously low and woefully out of date.

Three years ago, Oregon raised its FCR up to 175 grams (imagine a filet of salmon), the highest in the nation. Now it’s up to Governor Inslee to update Washington’s FCR. Jaime Smith, a spokesperson for the governor, says he’ll make the final call in the next few weeks. Meanwhile, as with anything else, there are groups lobbying Inslee on either side. The business community—including heavyweights like Boeing, the aerospace machinists, local paper mills, the Washington Truckers Association, and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce—want our FCR to be lower. In a letter to Inslee on April 1, they warned that a higher FCR would result in “immeasurable incremental health benefits, and predictable economic turmoil.” In other words, the letter says, a one-in-a-million cancer risk for people who eat a lot of fish would hurt the economy, while a one-in-a-hundred-thousand risk is more reasonable.

Smith, the governor’s spokesperson, says the governor wants to raise the FCR in a way “that won’t cause undue harm to businesses. Obviously business has a stake in this.”

But, Smith says, “at the same time, we have people who eat a lot of fish.” Businesses have hired consultants who’ve painted worst-case scenarios, she explains, “that probably aren’t realistic.”

At the end of the day, does the governor’s office have any evidence that raising the fish consumption rate would actually kill jobs? “Not necessarily,” Smith says. She hinted that Inslee will raise the rate to a number close to Oregon’s.

In fact, businesses like the Northwest Pulp and Paper Association made the same dire predictions before Oregon increased its FCR to 175 grams per day. What happened? “We are not aware of any business that has closed that was directly attributable to those rules,” says Jennifer Wigal, a water quality program manager for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Were there job losses? “Not that I’m aware of,” she says. Broadly, Oregon employment rates have continued to trend upward since the recession, while the job availability in the paper and pulp industry, she says, has long been slowly declining.

Opposite the business community are Native American tribes, environmental groups, public-health experts, and the Seattle Human Rights Commission. (In a strongly worded March resolution, the commission said the state should raise its fish consumption rate to same level as Oregon’s.) Jim Peters, of the Squaxin Island Tribe, says the waters of Puget Sound, where tribal members have always fished, need to be better protected from pollutants. “It’s part of our life,” he says. “It’s part of our culture.” The tribes are “pro jobs,” Peters says, but “Boeing has been unwilling to come and talk with us.”

This is a defining moment for Inslee: Where he sets this number, the FCR, will send another signal about his willingness to stand up to Boeing (after his support of $8.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the company last year). It will also show whether or not he’s serious about following through on his commitments to do battle on behalf of the environment, promises he ran on. So keep an eye out. And in the meantime, says University of Washington public-health professor Bill Daniell, don’t eat the fish near Gas Works Park.

How Big Tobacco Has Made Cigarettes So Much Deadlier Than They Used To Be

“The cigarettes sold today are quite different from the cigarettes that were on the market five decades ago, according to the new report, and that’s because tobacco companies have done extensive research to figure out how to make smoking appealing for new customers. “

 

 

In this Saturday, March 2, 2013 file photo, a woman smokes a cigarette while sitting in her truck in Hayneville, Ala. Anti-smoking measures have saved roughly 8 million U.S. lives since a landmark 1964 report linking smoking and disease, a study estimates, yet the nation's top disease detective says dozens of other countries have surpassed U.S. efforts to stop many tobacco-related harms. The study and comments were published online Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This week’s journal commemorates the 50th anniversary of the surgeon general report credited with raising alarms about the dangers of smoking. (AP Photo/Dave Martin, File)

(AP/Dave Martin)

Fifty years ago, the U.S. surgeon general tied tobacco to lung cancer for the first time. Since then, additional scientific research has linked smoking with a host of other health issues, and efforts to publicize those harmful side effects helped spur a historic decline in the number of Americans who regularly smoke. Nonetheless, more than 42 million adults remain addicted to cigarettes, and the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that tobacco is still the greatest public health challenge of our time.

Why is tobacco still at the top of the CDC’s list? Why haven’t we moved past this yet? Largely because cigarette manufacturers have worked hard to keep their products relevant even in the midst of aggressive public health campaigns to crack down on smoking, according to a new report released on Monday by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The cigarettes sold today are quite different from the cigarettes that were on the market five decades ago, according to the new report, and that’s because tobacco companies have done extensive research to figure out how to make smoking appealing for new customers. They’ve essentially made it easier to get hooked on their products by increasing the levels of nicotine — the addictive chemical in cigarettes — and using new additives to help enhance nicotine’s impact. They’ve also added flavoring, sugars, and menthol to mask the effect of inhaling smoke, ultimately hoping that will make it more pleasurable to use cigarettes:

 

Cigarettes have evolved over the past 50 years to make smoking more desirable

 

“Most people would think that 50 years after we learned that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, cigarettes would be safer. What’s shocking about the report we issued today is that we’ve found that a smoker today has more than twice the risk of lung cancer than a smoker fifty years ago, as a direct result of design changes made by the industry,” Matt Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in an interview with ThinkProgress.

On top of that, Myers’ organization notes that these corporations have made calculated moves to create the next generation of smokers, according to internal marketing documents from tobacco companies that have been made public as a result of litigation against them. Brands like Marlboro, Newport, and Camel have specifically worked to attract younger customers in order to remain viable, citing statistics that most regular smokers pick up the habit before they turn 18.

Most people know that cigarette makers have historically worked to target young people with their advertising. Indeed, before increased regulation attempted to rein in this practice, it used to be even more explicit than it is now. For instance, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company infamously used the cartoon character Joe Camel to help sell their cigarettes in the 1990s, a practice that mobilized anti-tobacco advocates to fight hard against marketing aimed at younger Americans.

But the new report finds that tobacco companies have actually gone even further to woo teens. The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company didn’t just rely on its camel; it also looked to change its cigarettes to appeal to a younger demographic. “Two key areas identified for improvement were smoothness and sweetness delivery. Smoothness is an identified opportunity area for improvement versus Marlboro, and sweetness can impart a different delivery taste dimension which younger adult smokers may be receptive to,” a 1985 product development plan for the company noted.

“We would have thought, with the tobacco industry claiming they don’t market to kids, that they wouldn’t be making design changes that increase the number of our kids who smoke,” Myers said. “But they have, quietly and behind the scenes.”

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ report was released to coincide with the five year anniversary of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, historic legislation that gave the FDA power to regulate tobacco products and marketing efforts. At the time, that measure was hailed as the “toughest anti-tobacco bill in American history” — and Myers’ group wants the government to use it to undo some of the changes that have been made to cigarettes over the past several decades.

“At a very minimum, the FDA should act swiftly to require the tobacco industry to reverse all the steps they’ve taken to make these products more dangerous, more addictive, and more appealing to our kids,” Myers said. “I think this report tells us that the tobacco industry has not reformed over the last 50 years.”

Native American donors needed for bone marrow drive in honor of 14-year-old battling cancer

Sarah Moses | smoses@syracuse.com

By Sarah Moses | smoses@syracuse.com

 

on March 27, 2014 at 11:00 AM, updated March 27, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Christopher Murillo, 20, of Eastwood swabs the inside of his mouth during the bone marrow drive held at the Onondaga Nation in this 2010 file photo. The sample given by Murillo, an Onondaga, was tested to see if he was a match to be a donor for Cazenovia teen who is one-quarter Native American. Native Americans make up about one percent of the 10 million donors on the blood marrow registry. Photo: John Berry / The Post-Standard, 2010

Christopher Murillo, 20, of Eastwood swabs the inside of his mouth during the bone marrow drive held at the Onondaga Nation in this 2010 file photo. The sample given by Murillo, an Onondaga, was tested to see if he was a match to be a donor for Cazenovia teen who is one-quarter Native American. Native Americans make up about one percent of the 10 million donors on the blood marrow registry. Photo: John Berry / The Post-Standard, 2010

 

Nedrow, NY — A bone marrow drive will be held Saturday in Nedrow in an effort to find a match for a 14-year-old Northern New York girl who is fighting for her life as she waits for a bone marrow transplant.

Alyson Stiles is battling acute lymphocytic leukemia and finding a bone marrow match has been difficult because Stiles is part Native American.

Alyson Stiles, from Northern New York, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when she was a toddler. Stiles, 14, is staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse and receiving treatment at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital. She is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Provided Photo

Alyson Stiles, from Northern New York, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when she was a toddler. Stiles, 14, is staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse and receiving treatment at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. She is in need of a bone marrow transplant. Provided Photo

Stiles’ best chance for finding a match would come from a person with Native American ancestry, said Paula Miller, of the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, who organizes local bone marrow drives.

It is very difficult for Native Americans to find matches because there are so few Native Americans donors registered. Miller said there are 10 million registered donors, but only one percent are Native American.

In 2010, a bone marrow drive was held on the Onondaga Nation to find a match for a Cazenovia teen who is part Native American. More than 50 Native Americansjoined the registry during the drive. Miller said those potential donors will remain on the registry until they are 61 years old, but more donors are needed.

The bone marrow drive will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Nedrow Fire Department, which is located at 6505 S. Salina St., in Nedrow. The bone marrow drive is in honor of Stiles, but potential donors of all racial backgrounds are needed to join the registry, Miller said. Thousands of patients on the Be the Match Registry are searching for a match.

Potential donors must also be willing to donate to any patient in need, not just Stiles, Miller said.

Stiles and her family are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse as she receives treatment at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. Stiles was diagnosed with leukemia when she was a toddler. The cancer returned when Stiles was 11 and again recently. Stiles has been sick most of her life.

To be a donor, volunteers must be between 18 and 44 years old and have no history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes or HIV. The collection kit is performed by swabbing the inside of the cheek.

“It’s not painful,” Miller said. “We don’t draw blood. It’s just a quick swab to the inside of your cheek.”

To learn more about the donation process, visit the Be The Match website. For more information about the bone marrow drive in Nedrow, call Paula Miller at 476-3000, ext. 2576.

The bone marrow drive is sponsored by the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and in collaboration with the Nedrow Fire Department, Onondaga Nation Fire Department and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central New York.

Sarah Moses covers the northern suburbs of Onondaga County and Oswego County. Contact Sarah at smoses@syracuse.com or 470-2298. Follow@SarahMoses315

How the Affordable Care Act Improves the Lives of American Women

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services

Today, we join our White House colleagues in celebrating National Breast Cancer Awareness month; and almost four weeks into the launch of the Health Insurance Marketplace, I’m reminded of the tremendous impact the Affordable Care Act has on the lives of American women.

As the President said, the law is much more than just a website – it’s affordable, quality health insurance made available to everyone.  Through the Marketplace, 18.6 million uninsured women have new opportunities for affordable, accessible coverage.  And if you’re one of the 85 percent of Americans who already have insurance, today you have stronger coverage and more choices than ever before.

Important preventive services are now available to women at no additional cost.  These include an annual well woman visit, screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer; certain contraceptive methods; smoking-cessation treatment and services; breastfeeding support and equipment; screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence; immunizations; and many more.  Thanks to the health care law, more than 47 million women have guaranteed access to preventive services without cost-sharing.

These preventive services are critical to keeping women healthy.  For example, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women and the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the US, after lung cancer. But when breast cancer is caught early and treated, survival rates can be near 100 percent.

The Affordable Care Act also protects women’s access to quality health care. No one can be denied health insurance coverage because of a preexisting health condition, such as breast cancer, pregnancy, depression or being a victim of domestic violence.  And there are no more annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage.

Today, health plans in the Marketplace offer a comprehensive package of ten essential health benefits, including maternity care.  An estimated 8.7 million American women currently purchasing individual insurance will gain coverage for maternity services, and most women will no longer need a referral from a primary care provider to obtain obstetrical or gynecological services.

Cost has also been a significant barrier to care for many women.  According to one study, in 2010, one third of women spent 10 percent or more of their income on premiums and out of pocket costs.  For low income women, that situation is much worse – over half of women who make $11,490 per year or less spend at least $1,149 a year on care.  But through the Marketplace 6 out of 10 uninsured individuals can get coverage for $100 or less.

This year, as in every year, women will make important decisions for themselves and their families about health care.  They can apply for coverage through the Marketplace:  Online at Health care.gov; Over the phone by calling the 24/7 customer service center (1-800-318-2596, TTY 1-855-889-4325); Working with a trained person in their local community (Find Local Help); or by submitting a paper application my mail.

The six-month enrollment period has just begun.  And unlike a sale on Black Friday, coverage will not run out; it will not get more expensive.  Sign up by December 15, 2013 for coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014. Open enrollment continues until March 31, 2014.

To read more about the how the Affordable Care Act addresses the unique needs of women, visit: http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/blog/2013/08/womens-health-needs.html

 

Providence Regional Cancer Partnership provides mind and body care for cancer patients

Janel Jacobson, a medical assistant at the Providence Comprehensive Breast Center in Everett, reviews a patient’s charts.— image credit: File Photo

Janel Jacobson, a medical assistant at the Providence Comprehensive Breast Center in Everett, reviews a patient’s charts.
— image credit: File Photo

Source: The Marysville Globe

EVERETT — While a number of other health agencies throughout Snohomish County are able to specialize in diagnosing and treating certain parts of breast cancer, many of them refer their support services to the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership.

Mary Gallagher and Nicola Mucci, who work in patient support services at the Providence Regional Cancer Partnership, noted that Providence provides not only diagnostic services, surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but also support services such as counseling, support groups, massage, acupuncture, yoga and dietician services. Many of these services are integrated to ensure that Providence is caring for patients’ minds and bodies at the same time.

“Patient support services offer a more holistic approach to health care,” Mucci said. “Patients can work with our teams and take advantage of our resources to address the emotional aspects of what they’re going through.”

“Relationships have become a focus for us lately,” Gallagher said. “We’re looking at how women with breast cancer and their families are adapting to the new circumstances that they’re all facing, the patients and their loved ones alike. How do they deal with these new emotions?”

Mucci explained that, because there is such a wide variety of experiences that cancer patients and their families can face, Providence’s menu of support groups includes not only a general cancer survivors group, but also therapy groups, groups for patients in the advanced stages of cancer, two groups for breast cancer patients — one set aside specifically for younger patients — and a support group for cancer survivors.

“Younger breast cancer patients are going to be facing issues that are less relevant to women who are 45 years and older,” Mucci said. “Younger women need to know how to deal with breast cancer when they still have young children at home, and how to balance their family, career and health concerns. There are also going to be issues tied to sexuality and intimacy with their partners, as well as the shock of being diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age.”

Mucci added that, regardless of whether the support groups are specific to younger or older cancer patients, family members are always welcome to attend, and indeed, Gallagher pointed out that many aspects of cancer impact the patients’ families as hard as the patients themselves.

“The idea is to let patients know that they have that emotional support at every stage of their journeys,” Gallagher said. “At the same time, we try to help those patients’ caregivers manage their own stress levels. Simple tasks such as balancing the checkbook and doing the laundry become much more challenging when they’re undergoing treatment, so especially if the caregivers are the adult children of the patients, they need to learn to be patient with their parents.”

Between scheduling appointments, providing transportation, picking up medications and running errands such as grocery shopping for their loved ones, Gallagher estimated that caregivers can easily find themselves saddled with an extra 20 hours of work per week.

“To keep them from overextending themselves and burning out, we teach them how to ‘Share the Care,’” Gallagher said. “If they can get help from their own families and friends, and disperse those tasks, it lightens the load on everyone.”

Caregivers have more than one support group devoted to their needs at Providence, with one group addressing the concerns of individual caregivers, while the “Share the Care” support group is tailored toward those who act as caregivers to cancer patients in groups. While the individual caregiver support group teaches caregivers how to take care of themselves in addition to seeing to those with cancer, the “Share the Care” support group trains groups on how to give care to cancer patients as teams.

“What’s new in how we’re helping caregivers is that we’re acknowledging that everyone in the family is affected by cancer, not just the patient,” Mucci said.

“The family is the patient,” Gallagher said. “Patients who are used to living independent, private lives need to learn how to open up to others. At the same time, they need to have self-esteem and feel good about themselves. The mind and the body are so interwoven that we can experience stresses as physical sensations.”

The Providence Regional Cancer Partnership’s scope of programs related to patients’ well-being is also expansive enough to include social workers, financial management, childcare, elder care, chaplains and psychologists.

The Providence Regional Cancer Partnership is located at 1717 13th St. in Everett. For more information, log onto www.cancerpartnership.org.

Cancer’s Link to the Unhealthy Mouth

Jessica Rickert DDS,, Native News Network

WASHINGTON – The human mouth is home to millions of micro-organisms. These are not a problem in a healthy mouth, but where there is dental disease, these oral pathogens are extremely harmful.

Jessica Rickert DDS, health editor

Jessica Rickert DDS, Health Editor – Praire Band Potawatomi

A common malady is periodontal disease, where the gums deteriorate. The bad bacteria present in active gum disease can include FUSOBACTERIUM NUCEATUM (Fn). There may be millions of these harmful germs. As they are swallowed, they can settle in the digestive tract. Yiping Han PhD, at Case Western Reserve University, discovered recently that Fn can attach and invade human colorectal cells. The molecules then turn on cancer growth genes and stimulate inflammatory responses in these cells and promote tumor growth. But, whether this FadA adhesion is an indirect or causal link remains unclear.

The Human papillomavirus is present in many patients’ mouths. When the HPV is present, it can cause an increase in oropharyngeal cancers.

Both cancers, and all cancers, are increased when the patients smokes tobacco and/or uses alcohol. Both cancers’ incidence and aggressiveness will be worsened by tobacco and alcohol usage.

A dentist is trained to look for oropharyngeal cancers at every dental checkup. But, if a sore which will not heal in 10 – 14 days is noticed, immediately see your dentist. Often, these cancers of the mouth are completely without symptoms.

Sound advice is to keep your mouth as healthy as possible by:

  1. excellent oral hygiene;
  2. a diet without white sugar and low in carbohydrates;
  3. dental cleanings and checkups every 6 months.
  4. It is time to quit using these poisons: tobacco and alcohol.

One in 20 Teens Use Cancer Causing Smokeless Tobacco

Source: Native News Network

WASHINGTON – It is bad for teens to take up smoking because of ill effects it has on health, but young people should be taught smokeless tobacco is not good for them either.

Smokeless tobacco is a form of tobacco that is not burned. Smokeless tobacco, known as snuff, chewing tobacco, oral tobacco, spit or spitting tobacco, causes cancer and other diseases. Smokeless tobacco is known to cause oral cancer, esophageal cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

A recent study indicates one in 20 middle school or high school students use smokeless tobacco products. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health saw that in national survey data.

The scientists also saw the power of peer pressure.

“Adolescents who had a friend that used smokeless tobacco were 10 times more likely to use smokeless tobacco themselves,”

commented Researcher Constantine Vardavas.

For comparison, teens with a family member who used smokeless tobacco were only 3 times more likely to use it.

Nearly all of the smokeless users reported it’s easy to get the stuff.

Unfortunately, smokeless tobacco is addictive because it contains nicotine. Studies reveal users of smokeless tobacco and those who smoke cigarettes have comparable levels of nicotine in the blood. In users of smokeless tobacco, nicotine is absorbed through the mouth tissues directly into the blood, where it goes to the brain. Even after the tobacco is removed from the mouth, nicotine continues to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Also, the nicotine stays in the blood longer for users of smokeless tobacco than for smokers

Smokeless tobacco is not a safe substitute for cigarettes.

Pepsi: Cancer for a new generation?

John Upton, Grist

Please don’t take this as an endorsement. But when it comes to avoiding cancer while you gulp down a sugar-blasting brand-name cola, Coke is it.

Pepsi has been lagging behind its main competitor in removing carcinogenic meth from its flagship cola product. Well, 4-methylimidazole, to be precise.

The chemical can form in trace amounts when caramel coloring used in cola is cooked. It has been found to cause cancer in rats.

Everybody who drinks corporate soda has been drinking the stuff for years. That was supposed to come to an end after California began requiring cancer warnings on products containing elevated levels of 4-methylimidazole. The new regulations prompted Coke and Pepsi to announce early last year that they would take steps to remove the chemical from their products nationwide.

But the Center for Environmental Health tested colas and found that while Californians are drinking safer sodas than they were before, some of the colas sold outside of California still contain high levels of the substance. From the nonprofit’s website:

If you live in California, Coke and Pepsi products are made without 4-MEI, a chemical known to cause cancer. But in testing of cola products from ten states, CEH found high levels of 4-MEI in ALL Pepsi cola products, while 9 out of ten Coke products were found without 4-MEI problems.

 

Pepsi swears it’s on it. From the AP:

Pepsi said its caramel coloring suppliers are changing their manufacturing process to cut the amount of 4-Mel in its caramel. That process is complete in California and will be finished in February 2014 in the rest of the country. Pepsi said it will also be taken out globally, but did not indicate a timeline.

You know, Pepsi and Coke, you could also just stop using caramel food coloring in your colas. But, then, clear cola would just be caffeinated sugar water. And that would be much harder to market as a sexy elixir.

Community supports Relay For Life

Kirk BoxleitnerCancer survivors kick off the 2013 Marysville Tulalip/Relay For Life with the opening lap at Asbery Field on June 29.

Kirk Boxleitner
Cancer survivors kick off the 2013 Marysville Tulalip/Relay For Life with the opening lap at Asbery Field on June 29.

Kirk Boxleitner, The Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — The 2013 Marysville Tulalip/Relay For Life benefitted from warm weather and clear, sunny skies on June 29-30 to raise $119,037.35 from its 50 teams and 416 participants, who generated roughly $50,000 toward that total in the past month alone.

Kristin Banfield, event chair for this year’s Marysville/Tulalip Relay, welcomed those teams of walkers to Asbery Field on Saturday, June 29, by noting how the overnight Relay is meant to reflect a day in the life of someone who is facing cancer, with the darkening of night eventually giving way to the dawn of a new day, and added that this year’s Relay marked a pleasant change of pace from the cold and rain that’s greeted local walkers and volunteers in previous years.

“I’m here not just as the Relay event chair, but also as a cancer survivor,” said Banfield, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, and while she’s since made a recovery, she’s described herself as a direct beneficiary of the money raised by Relays not just in Marysville and Tulalip, but all around the world. “So I just want to say thank you to all the companies and sponsors who have provided for this event, whether through financial support or donating goods and services. We’re so fortunate to have so many caring companies, in addition to our incredible elected officials.”

While Banfield works as the assistant city administrator for Arlington, she introduced Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring, who asserted that cancer has touched the lives of everyone in some way, whether they’ve fought it themselves or known those who have been faced with that fight.

“To my mind, this is one of Marysville’s most important events of the year,” Nehring said. “I salute everyone who’s battled cancer. Your stories are so heart-wrenching. The city of Marysville is glad to partner with the Marysville/Tulalip Relay to try and beat back this disease, and it’s great that you all have come out as a community for this cause.”

Teresa Stubrud is the mother of two cancer survivors, Austin and Kate, who are not only still children, but also diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Before Austin and Kate led the survivors’ lap to kick off this year’s Relay, Teresa compared her children’s journeys, since Kate was diagnosed with cancer shortly after Austin was finally declared cancer-free in 2005, after his own series of treatments.

“Kate was two and a half years old at the time, and it took two years before her treatments ended in 2008,” Teresa Stubrud said. “Six months later, it had returned.”

Kate’s only option was a bone marrow transplant, which is a painful and life-threatening procedure even for adult patients, never mind for a child with Down Syndrome, and Teresa recounted how she and her husband Jon had agonized over their decision, knowing how much Kate would suffer.

“The strength and courage and will to live that she’s shown ever since has been amazing,” Teresa Stubrud said. “She’s taught me more in her 10 years than I’d learned in my entire life.”

Stephani Earling, community relationship manager for the Great West Division of the American Cancer Society, took the time to pilot the wheelchair of her grandfather, Jim Perin, who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 kidney cancer only two weeks before, which has metastasized in his lungs.

“This has given my work for the American Cancer Society a whole new meaning,” Earling said.

“This is just a great outfit,” said Perin, 85, who was once the chief of police for Everett. “I mean, what else can you say about the work that they do? Their volunteers are unbelievable.”

 

Uranium Mining and Native Resistance: The Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act

Photo: defendblackhills.org

Photo: defendblackhills.org

By Curtis Kline, Intercontinental Cry

Native Americans in the northern great plains have the highest cancer rates in the United States, particularly lung cancer. It’s a problem that the United States government has woefully ignored, much the horror of the men and women who must carry the painful, life-threatening burden.

The cancer rates started increasing drastically a few decades after uranium mining began on their territory.

According to a report by Earthworks, “Mining not only exposes uranium to the atmosphere, where it becomes reactive, but releases other radioactive elements such as thorium and radium and toxic heavy metals including arsenic, selenium, mercury and cadmium. Exposure to these radioactive elements can cause lung cancer, skin cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, kidney damage and birth defects.”

Today, in the northern great plains states of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, the memory of that uranium mining exists in the form of 2,885 abandoned open pit uranium mines. All of the abandoned mines can be found on land that is supposed to be for the absolute use of the Great Sioux Nation under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the United States.

The Area Agreed Upon in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 (photo republicoflakotah.com)

The Area Agreed Upon in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 (photo republicoflakotah.com)

There are also 1,200 abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation, where cancer rates are also significantly disproportionate. In fact, it is estimated that 60 to 80 percent of all uranium in the United States is located on tribal land, and three fourths of uranium mining worldwide is on Indigenous land.

Defenders of the Black Hills, a group whose mission is to preserve, protect, restore, and respect the area of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties, is calling the health situation in their own territory America’s Chernobyl.

It’s not far from the truth. A nuclear physics professor from the University of Michigan, Dr. K. Kearfott, Ph. D., who studied the situation in northwestern South Dakota as well as the situation in Japan has said,

“The radiation levels in parts I visited with my students were higher than those in the evacuated zones around the Fukushima nuclear disaster…”

The contamination from the mines escapes into the air. It poisons grain that is fed to cattle that provide milk and beef for the rest of the nation. The abandoned uranium mines of the Cave Hills in northwestern South Dakota empty into the Grand River which flows through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Three villages are located on the Grand River and their residents have used the water for drinking and other domestic purposes for generations. The water runoff from the Slim Buttes abandoned uranium mines empty into the Morreau River which flows through the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Both of these rivers empty into the Missouri River which empties into the Mississippi.

Defending their lands, their food, air and water, defending their health and right to thrive as a people, the Defenders of the Black Hills have written legislation, The Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act, calling for study and remediation. This legislation proposes to place a moratorium on any processing or approval of new licenses for uranium exploration or mining operations until all abandoned mines in the country have been cleaned up.

In the last years, uranium mining interests in the United States for use at nuclear power plants has been growing. Being sold as a safer, cleaner and renewable energy, nuclear energy is on the table for America’s desire for energy independence.

However, as it has been witnessed by the Native communities suffering from the health impacts of these mines, who have also lost access to sacred sites, hunting and fishing territory, and land to grow crops, nuclear energy is just another extractive industry with serious adverse health and environmental effects.

The proposed legislation can be found at the website of Defenders of the Black Hills, along with a letter to representative Raul Grijalva from Arizona, urging him to sponsor the legislation. The uranium mines within the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty territory were never consented to by the Native American communities who now have to suffer the effects of the poisons these mines emit.