Cancer Cups


One Woman’s Quest to Eliminate (the risk of) Cancer

Amal Khalid, an Economics and Political Science major at the Lahore School of Economics, sits across from me in the Sports Café, clutching in her hand a cup of tea. Currently in her second year, she holds the positions of Joint-Secretary of the Social Welfare Society and the Debating Society also. The reason I’m meeting her today is to discuss something that Amal believes could possible help reduce the occurrence of cancer, or at least thwart it for as long as possible.

She points to the now empty cup, the insides of which are speckled with a delicate network of drops of tea, and tells me that I have no idea how harmful these Styrofoam cups really are. She’s right, I really don’t. She goes on to enlighten me about the fact that these foam cups contain the chemical styrene, which is considered a ‘possible human carcinogen’. Therefore, she explains, these cups are really no worse than being exposed to cigarette smoke. And as if the possibility of the existence of carcinogens wasn’t enough, other chemicals in the cups have been linked to leukemia and lymphoma. The chemicals in the cups can leach out into your food and drinks, and therefore she considers it her moral responsibility to enlighten her fellow students about the danger of their continued use. She tells me that we must avoid using these cups as much as we can, for as long as we can, until we can sign a petition or ask the management to shift to paper cups, which are not only a much safer alternative, but also a biodegradable option. As we get up to leave, she looks me in the eyes and says, rather hesitantly, that she hopes I don’t think that the issue is a trivial one. I assure her that I don’t, and that I’ll try my best to play my part in creating awareness about this issue. She smiles and throws the cup in the dustbin.