Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Can chemical in Roundup cause cancer?

California ruling that might lead to warning labels on weed killer is challenged in federal court

Agricultural groups are trying to overturn a California ruling that might require warning labels on a popular weed killer.

According to a recent Associated Press story, a coalition of a dozen national and Midwestern groups is seeking an injunction that would keep the state from enforcing a ban that could include a cautionary phrase about Roundup potentially causing cancer.  

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Sacramento, claims the warning would be "false" and "misleading" and alleges that the state's decision "violates constitutional due process and free speech rights and should be superseded by federal regulations."

Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate, has been widely used since 1974. The AP story notes that it kills unwanted weeds while leaving crops and other plants alive — and is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

However, the story also reports that International Agency for Research on Cancer, based in Lyon, France, has classified glyphosate as "a probable human carcinogen," an action that prompted the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment to add it last summer to a list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

That listing, the AP indicates, "could eventually lead to a requirement for warning labels on the product."

Among the plaintiffs is the St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., which makes Roundup and, the suit says, has invested "'hundreds of millions of dollars" in the herbicide and its related glyphosate-tolerant seeds.

Gordon Stoner
Sam Delson
The story quotes Gordon Stoner, past president of the National Association of Wheat Growers, as saying a cancer warning "would result in higher food costs, crushing blows to state and agricultural economies and lost revenue up and down the entire supply chain."

But Sam Delson, COEHHA spokesman, said the agency "is confident its rules are legal."

Details about various disease risks can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

'Ask Amy' writer promotes 'ring therapy'

Syndicated columnist offers advice for cancer patients on dealing with anxious supporters

Amy Dickinson
"Grief circles" can be a useful tool for cancer patients to cope with their disease.

According to a recent syndicated "Ask Amy" column by Amy Dickinson, the circles — otherwise known as "ring therapy" — conceptualize "the important idea that, when dealing with tough to tragic times, it is important for the person at the center of the circle [the patient]…to preserve her strength by only dealing with the person most intimately involved in her care — this might be a spouse, family member, or friend."

Other relationships, she wrote, "arrange outward in concentric rings. This is called the 'kvetching order.'"

Dickinson's column, which was in response to an elongated cry for help by a breast cancer patient who signed her plea "Not Dead in California," said that "ring therapy is mainly…to give you permission to react the way you want to during a time when you need to preserve your strength."

The patient is "not supposed to be worrying about how to be gentle and polite," she adds.

Dickinson also notes that the patient "can say anything (complain, cry, howl at the room) to those in outer rings, but those in outer rings should limit their own needs, fears, and statements and focus only on being helpful. No unsolicited advice, no raging at the injustice of it all, no demands for comfort or constant updates."

The letter-writer had explained that a close friend was "having trouble coming to terms with my diagnosis, as well as my not taking her up on her offers of help (yet)," and noted that the friend had "called a few nights ago sobbing and looking to me to help her feel better [about my long-term prospects and diagnosis], "which isn't as good as it could be, but…also not as bad as it could be."

She went on to say that she'd "rather not be calming down my friends when inside I'm losing my mind with the slow paced of health care and juggling my appointments and treatments" and, in this particular case, "cannot be the person making [the friend] feel better about my illness."

The columnist advised the letter-writer to tell members of her support group that she understands "that this is hard for you, but I can't help you through this. I've got too much on my plate" — and to encourage such friends, when they are upset, "to contact someone else in an outer ring."

Details of how I, Woody Weingarten, dealt with my wife, Nancy Fox, when she was being treated for the disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I aimed at male caregivers.

It — and the Marin Man to Man website about a weekly support group I've been running since that time — includes anecdotal material about how she hadn't wanted to worry about my reactions to what was going on with her.