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Families Seeking Answers for Childhood Cancer Rise in US | American News



S a knight was a huge passion in Oliver Strong's young life. Until his death from acute myeloid leukemia in June 2015, at the age of 12, he was an excellent athlete and goalkeeper, a healthy, vibrant and popular boy with a thirst for life who inspired his teammates, friends and family.

So when Oliver died suddenly at a children's hospital in Miami, just 36 hours after doctors first diagnosed the disease, his parents Simon and Wilma began looking for answers. What they found was disturbing.

Child cancer cases in the United States have risen by almost 50% from 1

975 to 2015, according to alarming but under-reported statistics from the National Cancer Institute, and in 2018, up to 16,000 children from birth to 19- age will receive a new diagnosis.

Yet, what really heightens Oliver's parents' concern is the growing concern that the role of carcinogenic environmental toxicants, including industrial waste and pollutants, is thought to play in the rise of childhood cancer .

"It's almost an unspoken scientific consensus that it's always environmentally friendly," said Simon Strong, who with his wife created the Oliver Forever Silen, a foundation in their son's memory. an ambitious study with scientists at Texas Children's Hospital, home of the nation's largest children's cancer center and Baylor Medical College. [19659008] Simon Strong and Wilma Tarazona Strong lost their 12-year-old son Oliver to childhood cancer four years ago. Oliver's parents kept his room intact at their home in Miami Beach, Florida, June 27, 2019. "src =" https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/5fa277a3f696a35e20fedde6d9b15e4184ed08bc/0_0_5616/5614/3744/6. jpg? width = 300 & quality = 85 & auto = format & fit = max & s = 898d2322b7c3bba799b860283b244ce7 "/>



Simon Strong and Wilma Tarazona Strong lost their 12-year-old son Oliver to pediatric cancer four years ago. in Miami Beach, Florida Photo: The Guardian by Maria Alejandro Cardona

Through the thereasonswhy.us website, the survey will use social media to help gather information from a wide geographical spread. Families with their own childhood cancer experiences will register and receive a questionnaire in the coming months, looking for information, including the onset and progression of their cancer, and demographics.

Dr. Michael Scherer, Director of Pediatric Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention Program at Texas Children's Hospital, says: "[This research] … will allow families who may not live near any of the existing centers for training, to participate as they see fit.

"We realize that people will not know if they have been exposed to a particular chemical or specific agent, so we try to get an overview of their environment, where they lived during the time the baby was conceived, during pregnancy. to the mother, in early childhood, up to the time they developed their cancer, are these residences located near Superfund sites or in areas with high levels of air pollution or water pollutants?

"Ultimately, if we see that several types of cancer have some risk factors, this is important information, but we want to start with a very homogeneous group of cancers and start looking at those patients first.

  Oliver's parents kept his room intact at their home in Miami Beach



Oliver's parents kept their room intact at their home in Miami Beach. Photo: Maria Alejandro Cardona / The Guardian

Environmental factors

Strong says that the hope is ultimately to build a more detailed picture of the link between toxins and childhood cancer.

"I, like most people, thought it was just bad luck and perverted genes, and you find that we are calmly encouraged to think about it," he said. "[But] I found a book published by World Health organization … it is always triggered by external agents that damage our DNA and the body's ability to deal with these damage. "

In the case of his own son, Silen acknowledges secondhand the events of the months and weeks leading up to until the death of Oliver, who came after a week of headaches.

Strong says no he remembers if it was some factor in his son's death, but that he regrets using Roundup in his patio to get rid of weeds. "Oliver Edward's brother said they both hate the smell of these things. [On one occasion] I looked at the container and I saw glyphosate and looked up and saw that it had been declared a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

"And now we all know about the verdicts of the jury on glyphosis [three juries in the US have awarded damages linking the weed killer to cancer; Bayer its manufacturer insists it is safe and is appealing].

Silen said that someone also told him about artificial turf and the "role it can play in apparently high childhood cancer rates."

He said, "Look at the grass and the black spongy things that are in it. It's mostly the cubes, used tires for vehicles, it's petrochemical stuff. There are strict rules for throwing out full tires for vehicles, but nothing about lifting them and using them as a sponge surface for athletes to play.

"So I would expose Oliver to Roundup, he" played for six months as a goalkeeper for these things. I have no idea if any of them contributed, but he was exposed to these two things and if I knew better, I would not expose him. "

On a larger scale, the Strong began to look at the cases and clusters of childhood cancer on a national scale and the possible environmental factors behind them that led to the foundation of theasonswhy.us project.

"The International Agency for Research on Cancer Liver Cancer studies the carcinogens in our environment, but in our health care industry the focus is only on detection, diagnosis and treatment because that's where the money is … and it doesn't focus on prevention." he says.

  Simon Strong and Wilma Tarazona Strong lost their 12-year-old son Oliver to pediatric cancer four years ago, Oliver's parents kept his room intact at their home in Miami Beach, Florida, June 27, 2019 [19459708] ]



Simon Strong and Wilma Tarazona Strong lost their 12-year-old son Oliver to pediatric cancer four years ago. Photo: Maria Alejandro Cardona / The Guardian
Government-funded Cancer Research Funding

Privately funded research is likely to increase as federal funding declines to tackle childhood cancer, the leading cause of death in early childhood children in the United States childhood. [19659003] In February, Donald Trump announced a $ 500 million appropriation over 10 years compared to a seven-year, $ 1.8 billion investment in Barack Obama. The president also downgraded environmental protection, which Strong says has contributed to the "emasculation" of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

There are tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals registered by the EPA, but only a small number have been tested for toxicity, Strong says. "It's in our food, packaging and clothing, construction materials, cleaning products, cosmetics, toys and baby bottles. And even less is known about the effects of simultaneous exposure to multiple chemicals.

"There are hundreds of communities across the country where people raise their voices. In Otsego, Michigan, they had an extremely high number of childhood cancers and were able to get EPA to do air, water and soil testing. In most communities, it refers to pollution resulting from toxic wastes from active or non-existing production plants of one type or another, as well as leakage of nutrients from agricultural operations.

"There is a similar story in Franklin, Indiana. You have all these communities that are becoming more active on social media, getting in touch with each other and saying, “Hey, you too?” Previously, they worked like pockets and we wouldn’t hear about each other. That's where we enter. We will bring together many of these communities. ”

Ultimately, the Strong are hoping to include thousands of families for the study, with the first 200 signed by mid-summer. The questionnaire should be ready for distribution by the end of the year, and he said he has already signed up for participants in nearly half of the 50 states, plus some in South America.

“Oliver was a compassionate, compassionate soul with a strong sense of justice, so I would like to think that we are doing it in his spirit, and at the same time it is important to me that this is not for Oliver, but for all the families who are affected by childhood cancer, "he said.

"We want to invest society not in disease, but in health … a celebration of young people who preserve their health because we live in an environment with safer water, safer air and safer products."


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