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New Canadian Research on Occupational Causes of Breast Cancer Point to Urgent Need for Increased Regulation and Action

TORONTO, Nov. 19, 2012 /CNW/ - The CAW is deeply troubled by the latest findings on the occupational causes of breast cancer among Canadian women and is calling for regulatory changes and increased attention by health officials to blue collar women's workplace exposures, in light of the new research.

The study, released today by Dr. James Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith, along with Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) and National Network on Environments and Women's Health (NNEWH), uncovered that women working in the automotive plastics, metal-related manufacturing, food canning operations, agriculture, bars and casinos have a significantly higher risk of developing breast cancer - due to exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

The study was based on interviews and the health records of 2,000 women in Essex and Kent, working in automotive plastics, metal-related manufacturing, food canning operations, agriculture, bars and casinos. For women with at least 10 years of working in these sectors, their risk of developing breast cancer increased by a staggering 42 per cent.

Many of the women interviewed for the research were former or current CAW members

"As we know from years of working with asbestos and other carcinogenic substances, workplace hazards are not always immediately obvious, but sadly, that makes them no less deadly," said CAW Health, Safety and Environment Director Sari Sairanen.

"Important studies like this give credence to the glaring trends that we see in our workplaces - it is absolutely urgent that we do not continue to wait until overwhelming evidence piles up before we take action," said Sairanen.

The CAW is calling for a number of measures that would improve long term health and safety, including:

  • Increased attention by health officials to blue-collar women's workplace exposures and cancer research;
  • Research initiatives into preventable environmental causes of breast cancer;
  • A public inquiry or commission to examine the risks to women posed by exposures in the plastics industry;
  • Regulatory changes;
  • And action by the federal government to ensure that companies that do use safer and healthier products do not face an unfair competitive disadvantage with overseas companies using harmful substances.

CAW Health, Safety and Environment Director Sari Sairanen, CAW National Skilled Trades Co-ordinator Terry Weymouth and several women automotive plastics workers will be in attendance for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation - Ontario Region open house this evening. The study's authors and representatives of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) and National Network on Environments and Women's Health (NNEWH) will present the findings of the study.

Today, Monday, November 19, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County
6038 Empress Street, Windsor, ON N8T 1B5

SOURCE Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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