Skip to main content


Volume 990: debated on Thursday 7 August 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many area health authorities throughout Great Britain have public education programmes which promote the early detection and prevention of cancer.

I regret that the information sought about local campaigns is not available centrally. At the national level the Health Education Council is the body chiefly concerned and several of its programmes are of importance for the prevention of cancer.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if his Department has studied the review of various causes of cancer made for the Chemical Industries Association; and what conclusions they have drawn.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 July 1980, c. 611]: The paper is seen as a useful review of some of the available studies of morbidity and mortality attributed to cancer. It draws attention also to the many difficulties in analysing the complex causes of cancer. These include the problems of extrapolating from studies in which animals are given high exposure over short periods, to the effects on man of low exposure over a long term, and of taking into account personal factors, for example dietary and social habits. It would be unwise to draw unequivocal conclusions from a single review of this nature, which was prepared with the stated intention of countering previous assertions on the causes of cancer, and which is of a length within which an adequate examination of all the relevant factors is not possible. The paper's conclusions are, however, in broad agreement with the assessment, accepted by the majority of scientific observers, that current knowledge suggests occupational factors account for between 1 and 5 per cent. of all cancers.