Fuel Retailers and Consumers Fuel Up for Cancer Research

Source: By Jessica Sodeke, Nebraska Ethanol Board • Posted: Sunday, October 3, 2021

LINCOLN, NEB – Throughout October, drivers can help Fuel the Cure for breast cancer by filling up with higher blends of ethanol – E15 to flex fuel E85 – at participating locations. Nearly 50 Nebraska gas stations will donate 3 cents for every gallon of higher ethanol blends sold between Oct. 1­‑31 to support cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center in Omaha. Since 2018, Nebraska’s Fuel the Cure campaigns have raised more than $18,000 for cancer research. Find a list of participants at www.fueledbynebraska.com/pink.

Why support this important cause?
Jenn Klein of Lincoln was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. Her cancer cells were growing and dividing very rapidly – at a rate of about 80%. Lifesaving treatment was needed right away. She completed 20 weeks of chemotherapy, received multiple blood and platelets transfusions, underwent a four-hour procedure that included a port removal, sentinel node biopsy, double mastectomy, and immediate one-step reconstruction, and endured 33 sessions of radiation. By the end of 2015, Jenn was finally cancer free. If it wasn’t for a chemotherapy treatment that was discovered by a funded researcher, Jenn might not be alive today to share her story.

Chemicals in gasoline are known to cause cancer. The 2021 “Assessment on Ethanol-Blended Gasoline/Diesel Fuels on Cancer Risk and Mortality,” was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. It proves what the ethanol industry has known for years. The assessment focuses on carcinogens, or substances capable of causing cancer, and epigenetics, or how behaviors and environment can affect how your genes work, and the impact of biofuels on each. The research suggests cancer risks are positively associated with exposure to occupational and environmental chemical carcinogens, including those from gasoline combustion exhausted in vehicles. Epigenetic abnormalities, including DNA hypermethylation, histone deacetylation, and/or microRNA dysregulation, have been demonstrated as a hallmark of cancer. Compared with gene mutations, aberrant epigenetic changes occur more frequently, and the cellular epigenome is more susceptible to change by environmental factors.

Oil refiners blend chemicals and aromatic hydrocarbons into gasoline to prevent the fuel from premature combustion (known as knocking), but ethanol has superior anti-knock properties and is used as a non-toxic substitute. Higher blends of biofuels, like locally-produced ethanol, replace a portion of these harmful chemicals – reducing cancer-causing emissions. In their regularly released Fuel Trends Reports, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency specifically states that “ethanol’s high-octane value has allowed [oil] refiners to significantly reduce the aromatic content of the gasoline.” The present study finds that this may lead to diminished cancer risk through an altered cellular epigenetic landscape. The higher the ethanol blend, the more reduction that occurs.

“Cancer touches the lives of nearly everyone in some way,” said Ashley Christensen, director of development at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. “We appreciate that Nebraska fuel retailers are joining forces to empower drivers to support cancer research at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, which provides lifesaving care to people throughout our state. Through generous contributions, such as the Fuel the Cure campaign, we are able to fund researchers working on new treatments each and every day.”

Drivers will be able to identify which retailers are supporting this important cause by looking for pink signage at the pump, on the windows and at the counter.

E15 (15% ethanol and 85% gasoline), also called Unleaded88, is approved for use in all passenger vehicles 2001 and newer. Ethanol blends higher than 15% are approved for use in flex fuel vehicles. One in seven Nebraskans drive a flex fuel vehicle, which can run on any blend of ethanol up to E85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline). Drivers can check their owners’ manuals to see if they’re driving flex fuel vehicles. The vehicles may also have a flex fuel badge on the trunk or tailgate — or a yellow gas cap.

“Through this annual ‘Fuel the Cure’ promotion, we’re helping put an end to cancer through contributions to life-saving research and through the promotion and usage of ethanol,” said Jay Reiners, chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board and farmer from Juniata. “Ethanol is a cleaner burning fuel that naturally boosts octane, replacing added toxic chemicals known to cause cancer. Additionally, higher blends of ethanol can save consumers money, so it’s truly the smart choice at the pump.”

The Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, and Renewable Fuels Nebraska sponsor Fuel the Cure in conjunction with retail stations.