Unacceptable Risk: Dr. Margaret Kripke on Cancer and the Environment

February 4, 2021

New documentary featuring Silent Spring board member Dr. Margaret Kripke calls attention to the true burden of environmentally-induced cancers.

To kick off National Cancer Prevention Month, the Cancer Free Economy Network (CFEN) released a new documentary featuring Silent Spring board member Dr. Margaret Kripke. Entitled Unacceptable Risk: Dr. Margaret Kripke on Cancer and the Environment, the film chronicles her journey as a prominent cancer researcher who began to rethink her assumptions about the causes of cancer and the influence of toxic chemicals in our everyday environment.



Dr. Kripke was appointed by George W. Bush to serve on the President's Cancer Panel from 2003 to 2010. It was during that time that the panel decided to examine the impact of environmental factors on cancer risk. She learned from expert testimony that only a fraction of the 80,000-plus chemicals on the market in the U.S. are tested for safety, and many known and suspected carcinogens are unregulated, making exposure to environmental carcinogens a widespread and daily occurrence for most Americans.  

"In the United States, we only regulate chemicals after evidence of harm. This is in contrast to other Western countries which require proof of safety prior to release. In the United States, there are no incentives for developing safer alternatives," Kripke said.

Her experience on the President’s Cancer Panel was a turning point in her understanding of the multifactorial causes of cancer, including the impact of exposure to toxic chemicals.

Dr. Kripke is a world-renowned expert in the immunology of skin cancers, she holds a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. While conducting research at the National Cancer Institute, she was recruited to the top-ranked MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, to head a new department of immunology. She became the first female department chair, as well as the first female full professor in basic science, in the history of the institution. 

Award-winning filmmaker Cynthia McKeown produced and directed the film. To learn more about the film and cancer prevention, visit the Cancer Free Economy Network.