Cancer Prevention: Within Our Reach?
Thoughts & 10 Practical, Simple Tips
Before you start reading, think about this. One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in his or her lifetime. Sad right? But guess what folks? Nearly HALF of all cancers are preventable. Why aren’t more researchers and thought leaders talking about this instead of, or in addition to, finding ways to cure cancer once you have it? And why is it that traditional initiatives aimed at cancer prevention have LARGELY ignored the role of toxic substances in the environment? And why aren’t we ALL up in arms about it. Well I, for one, am on any given day.
But there’s hope. It comes as no surprise to me that one of my favorite and most trusted sources of information on the entire planet, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), wants to change the conversation and raise our awareness. They want new investigations on environmental causes of cancer and are ready to lead the charge on our behalf yet again. If you want to know better, do better and arm yourself with information that might just help prevent you or someone you love from being that one out of three, here are a couple of tips/thoughts to share;
1. EWG has a new cancer prevention site. They have compiled some of their best resources, blogs and new groundbreaking cancer research into one website that informs and empowers us with tips and tools to help stop cancer before it starts.
2. In the big picture – cancer prevention starts with a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy, exercise, don’t smoke. Hopefully no news there.
3. Toxins in the home are making us sick, in some cases, very sick. After you get over being mad because regulatory agencies are not acting on our behalf, get even by arming yourself with facts, information and knowledge about toxins in your home so you can start getting rid of them and using the power of the purse to change the world.
Since imitation is the highest form of flattery and since I admire and respect the work of EWG immensely and since I really do care about my loved ones and cancer prevention – here are the 10 “cut and paste” household tips straight from the EWG website. They are simple and they are easy – you just have to take action or they don’t work!
1. Protect yourself from the sun
Clothing – shirts, hats and pants – and sunscreen can help protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. These precautions are especially important when the sun is high in the sky and most intense. EWG’s sunscreen guide can help you find safe, effective products. (MGW comment: you can find them at places like Target)
2. Keep a clean home
Dust is a reservoir for many toxic chemicals and can be a source of exposure, particularly for children who spend a lot of time on or close to the floor and often put their hands in their mouths. Regular cleaning with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner and dusting in a way that removes dust, rather than stirring it up, can reduce indoor exposures. In older buildings, lead paint, asbestos-containing materials (flooring and insulation) and older electrical equipment can pose risks. Lead and asbestos removal should only be done with extreme caution and by a professional.
3. Find alternatives to pesticides
Pesticides have been linked to a variety of cancers including prostate, leukemia, lymphoma, and childhood cancers. Control insects by not leaving food out and cleaning up crumbs or spills, keeping your home dry (using a dehumidifier if you have a basement) and keeping the foundation clear of dirt, plants and debris. Mulch, landscaping fabrics and homemade solutions of vinegar and/or soap are good ways to suppress weeds without using chemicals. (Mrs. Green Editorial Comment: DON’T USE ROUNDUP TO KILL WEEDS EITHER!)
4. Keep indoor air clean
When you tackle a home improvement project, use products made without volatile organic compounds such as low-VOC paints and keep work areas well ventilated. Avoid laminates and other composite wood products that contain formaldehyde. Air pollution from fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can also be a serious issue. Choose clean-burning stoves or inserts and make sure they are properly ventilated, with no leaks in the chimney or exhaust pipes. Finally, you shouldn’t ever smoke, but certainly don’t do it in your home.
5. Filter drinking water
Tap water can contain low levels of metals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, nitrates and disinfection by-products (chemicals formed when the chlorine utilities use to treat water reacts with organic material). Simple carbon filters can remove many of these contaminants. If arsenic or nitrates are a major concern, consider more expensive options such as reverse osmosis filters or distillation.
6. Look for alternatives to harsh cleaners
Solutions of soap or vinegar in water can be simple and effective cleaners. EWG’s cleaners guide can help identify less toxic products on the market. (MGW 2 cents? Think of how much money you will save – just like in the good old HEALTHY days)
7. Check for radon
Radon, a naturally occurring gas that can seep into your house from the ground, is a known carcinogen. Professional radon testing and commercial kits are readily available. (MGW question – has anyone reading this newsletter done radon testing? I have not)
8. Cook clean
Today’s non-stick cookware is much improved, but it doesn’t last forever. Scratched or worn cookware can release toxic chemicals into your food and air, as can pre-heating non-stick cookware at high temperatures. Don’t heat food or drinks in plastic containers; they can leach chemicals into your food. And be aware that charring meat, especially red meat, can produce cancer-causing chemicals known as heterocyclic amines. (Harsher words from MG – GET RID OF PLASTIC!!!)
9. Check for mold
Mold is toxic to your health and your home. It can be a sign of excessive moisture. In addition to being a cancer hazard, the toxins produced by mold can cause serious acute and chronic respiratory disease. (But this is a topic for an entire newsletter)
10. Be mindful of personal-care products and medicines
The ingredients in personal-care products are largely unregulated and can contain known carcinogens such as formaldehyde and endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as phthalates and parabens. EWG’s Skin Deep® can help you find products without these problematic chemicals. Estrogen-promoting medications, including hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives, have been linked to small increases in the risk of breast cancer. You should carefully consider the risks and benefits with your doctor. (MGW’s thoughts? Not at all sure why EWG did not list this one FIRST. Think of how many personal care products you put on your body each day – soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash, skin creams, hair gel, sunscreen, all kinds of make-up. If you knew checking them out might just prevent you from getting cancer, don’t you think it would be worth your time? The life you save may be your own. Food for deep thought indeed. To your health!