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.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rachael, and Michelle

I've been a fan of Rachael Ray's for years, and now I love her even more. She is working on a great new initiative with Michelle (Obama, that is), to involve chefs with schools to encourage healthier eating for kids. Here is the article, and the video is below. So cool!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fourth grade poetry festival

J's fourth grade class had a poetry festival today. Each child read an original poem that they had created during the year, and then, classmates commented on each poem. The child's parent or parents had a chance to make a comment, and then the teacher commented. It was incredibly touching. There was something about the kids making supportive, insightful comments about each poem, and then the teacher doing the same, and praising each child for his or her growth this year...it was really moving.

Some of the poems were funny, some were sad, most were very descriptive and surprisingly emotional. It is such a different side to these kids who we usually see being silly and running around.

They are growing up.

They also each recited a poem that they had memorized. Most of these were funny poems, and they used props. Here is J reciting the poem Toucan Tour Guide by Deborah Ruddell. The words follow, in case you can't understand him.
I was touring Peru in a silver canoe
And my guide was a toucan named Zeke
A talkative fellow with splashes of yellow
And green on his eye-catching beak

The river was cold, the sunlight was gold,
We were feeling as free as could be
When something I said made Zeke turn his head
And the tip of his beak hit a tree

So we stopped for the night at a vine-covered site
And Zeke made a fire by our tent
I tried not to peek at his curious beak
But to tell you the truth it was bent.
Makes me laugh every time!