Every February 4, the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) leads the commemoration of World Cancer Day. The World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer also support this initiative.

This year, with the campaign “Close the Care Gap”, they seek to raise awareness and mobilize society to advance in the prevention and control of this disease.

Laudato Si’ Movement joins them in their efforts. Heavy air and water pollution has had a significant influence on the increase of cancer in various parts of the world. 

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In particular, areas affected by extractive, agricultural and industrial activities suffer the consequences, with bone cancer being three times higher, along with respiratory problems. In addition, the use of agrochemicals in rural areas also significantly harms the health of villagers.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis mentions these realities, with concern for access to drinking water: “One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. Every day, unsafe water results in many deaths”(LS 29).

In the case of air, components such as sulfur dioxide, ozone, carbon dioxide and fine particles are highly polluting and are present especially in large cities. According to the Léon Bérard Center, this accounts for seven million premature deaths per year worldwide.

According to a UN study, air pollution causes 36% of deaths from lung cancer, 34% of deaths from stroke and 27% of deaths from heart disease.

This problem is also present in drinking water. Substances such as arsenic, one of the 10 chemicals that the WHO considers to be of most concern for public health, nitrate, fluoride or chlorine, are often found in particles in drinking water. 

“Water-related diseases, including those caused by microorganisms and chemical substances [are common among the poor]. […] Underground water sources in many places are threatened by the pollution produced in certain mining, farming and industrial activities, especially in countries lacking adequate regulation or controls” (LS 29).