A medical expert, Professor John Anetor, has expressed concerning on Nigeria’s environment, saying it is heavily poisoned and a probable a reason for increasing cases of cancer and low birth weight babies.
Anetor in his inaugural lecture entitled “In Search of An Antidote for a Poisoned World” at the University of Ibadan, said more people were becoming susceptible to the increasing levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the environment because of hidden hunger or micronutrient deficiency.
According to him: “By the end of the 19th century, half a dozen of industrial carcinogen (cancer-causing chemicals) sources were known. But in the 20th century, this was increased to countless new carcinogens.
“No longer are exposures to dangerous chemicals occupational alone, they have entered the environment of everyone—even of children yet unborn. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that we are now aware of an alarming increase in malignant disease-one in every four.”
The expert, who remarked that world’s economic development had also come with increased exposures to metal poisoning, declared exposure to common metals like cadmium from smoking cigarette causes damages to the kidney and also bone disease.
Anetor declared that this also contributed to premature set of osteoporosis (brittle bones) and higher risk of cancer and heart disease in Nigerian cigarette smokers.
The toxicology expert also cautioned against un-prescribed use of iron tablets, saying that iron poisoning may result and its manifestations reminiscent of thalidomide toxicity in the 1950s.
Thalidomide was considered a safe drug to be given to pregnant women to prevent morning sickness. But with use, an unusual increase in the number of malformed babies with birth defects was recorded.
Anetor expressed concern on increasing exposure to lead and its compounds from both environmental and occupational exposure, saying that these increase people’s susceptibility to infectious diseases, inflammatory disorders and cancers.
He declared that exposure of the public to lead has also been linked with reduced cognition, stunted growth in children, rickets, anaemia, and reduced infertility, adding, “Indeed, lead is strongly believed to be responsible for the fall of the Roman empire due to reduced infertility. “
The expert stated that cement also contributed to environmental pollution, adding that Nigeria’s cement dust contains even higher concentrations of key toxic metals like copper, nickel and chromium that are known to cause cancer than the USA cement dust.
However, he stated that things like bitter leaf and micronutrients such as Vitamins A, C and E, zinc, selenium and thiamine has been discovered as some remedies for chemical poisons in the environment.