Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cancer prevention tips from EWG

The Environmental Working Group works to "expose threats to your health and the environment, and to find solutions." I don't agree with everything that comes out of the EWG (more on that at a later date), but much of what comes from them is useful.

You may recall a few months ago I received an email from the American Cancer Society about cancer "prevention" that angered me. I received a similar email today from EWG, but this one is much more useful. Here's what it said:

Dear Adena,

You may have heard that the President's Cancer Panel issued a landmark report last month suggesting that public health officials have "grossly underestimated" the extent of environmentally-induced cancer among the in 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with the disease annually.

While we were not surprised by this high-level acknowledgment of the environmental connection to cancer, we know that hearing news like this can raise questions. So we put together nine practical tips for consumers like you to reduce the risk of environmental cancer. They're easy and could make a difference.

So here are the tips. Or you could read the original article here. What I like about EWG's tips vs. ACS's tips is that EWG's have to do with actively avoiding things in the environment that can cause cancer. I feel strongly, however, that we can't avoid everything that causes cancer because these substances are already in the air, water, and earth, but perhaps some of these things are in our control.

1. Filter your tap water. Common carcinogens in tap water include arsenic, chromium, and chemical byproducts that form when water is disinfected. A simple carbon tap-mounted filter or pitcher can help reduce the levels of some of these contaminants. If your water is polluted with arsenic or chromium, a reverse osmosis filter will help. Learn about your tap water and home water filters at EWG's National Tap Water Database.

2. Seal outdoor wooden decks and play sets. Those built before 2005 are likely coated with an arsenic pesticide that can stick to hands and clothing. Learn more from EWG.

3. Cut down on stain- and grease-proofing chemicals. "Fluorochemicals" related to Teflon and Scotchgard are used in stain repellants on carpets and couches and in greaseproof coatings for packaged and fast foods. To avoid them, avoid greasy packaged foods and say no to optional stain treatments in the home. Download EWG's Guide to PFCs.

4. Stay safe in the sun. More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. To protect your skin from the sun's cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) radiation, seek shade, wear protective clothing and use a safe and effective sunscreen from EWG's sunscreen database.

5. Cut down on fatty meat and high-fat dairy products. Long-lasting cancer-causing pollutants like dioxins and PCBs accumulate in the food chain and concentrate in animal fat.

6. Eat EWG's Clean 15. Many pesticides have been linked to cancer. Eating from EWG's Clean 15 list of the least contaminated fruits and vegetables will help cut your pesticide exposures. (And for EWG's Dirty Dozen, buy organic.) Learn more at EWG's Shopper's Guide to Pesticides.

7. Cut your exposures to BPA. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic estrogen found in some hard plastic water bottles, canned infant formula, and canned foods. Some of these chemicals cause cancer in lab studies. To avoid them, eat fewer canned foods, breast feed your baby or use powdered formula, and choose water bottles free of BPA. Get EWG's tips to avoid it.

8. Avoid carcinogens in cosmetics. Use EWG's Skin Deep cosmetic database to find products free of chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer. When you're shopping, don't buy products that list ingredients with "PEG" or "-eth" in their name.

9. Read the warnings. Some products list warnings of cancer risks -- read the label before you buy. Californians will see a "Proposition 65" warning label on products that contain chemicals the state has identified as cancer-causing.

1 comment:

mother in israel said...

I knew it was a good idea to skip the stain cleaners. :) Very interesting post, a commenter on my cooking blog said that her city's water fails tests for lead.