Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir

PITTSBURGH – En 1971, le président Richard M. Nixon a lancé une “guerre” contre le cancer. Presque quarante ans plus tard, la bataille prend principalement la forme de démarches très rentables visant à mettre au point des médicaments et des techniques pour soigner la maladie, tout en ignorant pratiquement les facteurs environnementaux qui la provoquent.

Certes, le nombre de décès liés au cancer a chuté principalement grâce à des efforts très tardifs, et encore peu soutenus, de réduction de la consommation de tabac. Les succès du dépistage et des traitements des cancers du sein, colorectaux et de l’utérus y ont aussi contribué.

Mais les noirs et d’autres minorités aux États-Unis – et ailleurs dans le monde – ne partagent pas ces succès, et il semble que ces disparités s’expliquent par des facteurs environnementaux. Alors qu’un Américain sur huit seulement est noir, un noir sur trois travaille dans le système sanitaire ou exerce une autre profession manuelle. Il se trouve aussi que chez la population noire, le niveau de vitamine D qui protège des cancers est inférieur de moitié à celui des blancs. En outre, ils sont bien plus susceptibles de vivre dans des quartiers pollués.

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