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Safety advocates dispel cancer myths

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Safety advocates joined the world today, February 4, 2013 in commemorating World Cancer Day. Led by the Institute for Occupational Health and Safety Development (, a non-profit, non-governmental safety organization based in Manila, participants assembled in front of the World Health Organization (WHO) office located at United Nations Avenue in Manila to “help dispel the myths of cancer ” by distributing information materials to workers and commuters.

“The theme for World Cancer Day 2013 is all about taking down the four myths of Cancer,” said Noel Colina, Executive Director of IOHSAD. “Below are the cancer myths to be tackled:”

Myth 1: Cancer is just a health issue
Myth 2: Cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries
Myth 3: Cancer is a death sentence
Myth 4: Cancer is my fate

According to Colina, cancer is a topic avoided by many, especially workers, hoping the silence would keep the disease at bay. “The various misconceptions about the Big C prevents us from battling this scourge head on. Talking about how to prevent the disease is crucial step we need to take so we can move towards a cancer-free world. ”

“Cancer is not just a health issue but a workplace issue and affects the working people as well,” continued Colina. “For example, Asbestos, which can cause Mesothelioma, a rare form of lung cancer, should be banned and eliminated to prevent workers from being exposed. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates 100,000 deaths annually across the globe is due to Asbestos. Various chemicals, like Benzene and Trichloroethylene (TCE), that are being used in the electronics industry, also places workers at harm’s way.”

Colina stressed the need for early detection of cancer. “If Cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate increases. That is why when the WHO classified night work as a Class 2A carcinogen, this should be the impetus for management of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies to institutionalize free and annual cancer screening for all their employees to detect early and allow appropriate health management upon onset of the disease.”

“Based on the above findings by the WHO, the government, through the appropriate agencies, should also include - just like Denmark – cancer due to night work among the list of compensable diseases. This will provide social protection for workers who will be suffering from Cancer,” added Colina.

“Cancer is a social burden, but the weight is heavier as you go down the economic ladder. The workers, who are the most vulnerable to cancer from environmental exposures, must be protected and giving them the appropriate knowledge is our obligation,” ended Colina.