I had a bladder cancer as a young adult. If I tell people this fact, they usually shake their heads. If I go on to mention that cancer runs in my family, they usually start to nod. But if I am up for blank stares, I’ll add that I am adopted and go on to describe a study of cancer among adoptees that found correlations within their adoptive families but not within their biological ones. At this point, most people become very quiet. These silences remind me how unfamiliar many of us are with the notion that that our genes work in communion with substances streaming in from the larger, ecological world. What runs in families does not necessarily run in blood. And our genes are less an inherited set of teacups enclosed in a cellular china cabinet than they are plates used in a busy diner. Cracks, chips, and scrapes accumulate. Accidents happen.

from Living Downstream


Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment

back to Books


“At once intimate and public, inspirational and frightening, essential reading for our time.”
—Alan Lightman, M.I.T.; author of Einstein’s Dreams


The first edition of Living Downstream—an exquisite blend of precise science and engaging narrative—set a new standard for scientific writing. Poet, biologist, and cancer survivor, Steingraber uses all three kinds of experience to investigate the links between cancer and environmental toxins.

The updated science in this exciting new edition strengthens the case for banning poisons now pervasive in our air, our food, and our bodies. Because synthetic chemicals linked to cancer come mostly from petroleum and coal, Steingraber shows that investing in green energy also helps prevent cancer. Saving the planet becomes a matter of saving ourselves and an issue of human rights. A documentary film based on the book will coincide with publication.


Steingraber, Sandra.
Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment.

Da Capo Press; Second Edition, Revised and updated edition (March 23, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0306818698
ISBN-13: 978-0306818691
Copyright © 1997 by Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.



Japanese Edition
Living Downstream
by Sandra Steingraber
Copyright ©1997, 1998 by Sandra Steingraber, Ph. D.
This translation published by arrangement with Sandra Steingraber c/o Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency, Inc. and Sterling Lord Literistic through The English Agency (Japan) Ltd.