Archive for December 17th, 2011

Treatments for Cancer

Research Note regarding the President’s Cancer Panel.

The President’s Cancer Panel dedicated the last two years to examining the impact of environmental factors on cancer risk. The Panel has just released an extensive report on their findings, which include eye-opening recommendations for individuals, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic. Although many of us have read similar recommendations and warnings, it is important to highlight that this report emerges from mainstream scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel, a panel of three experts who review the U.S. cancer program and report directly to the President.

“Most of what we know about cancer is based on studies of non-Hispanic white people, but by the middle of the century that group will be only 38 percent of the population,” said panel member Margaret L. Kripke, a professor emerita of immunology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “We need more data on cancer among minority populations so that we can begin to implement specific preventive measures.”

The report recommends more research into sociological factors that may explain disparities in cancer mortality among minorities.

Detoxify Your Body

“There have been a lot of studies in recent years trying to understand genetic differences associated with cancer susceptibility, but there are also cultural factors that can affect cancer mortality,” said Kripke. “In some cultures, people are so afraid of a cancer diagnosis that they don’t seek treatment until it’s very late.”

Current cancer screening guidelines should be evaluated, the panel noted, “to determine their accuracy in assessing disease burden in diverse populations.”

“One-size-fits-all screening guidelines don’t work,” Kripke said. “For example, the breast cancer screening guidelines have been loosened up so that women can start having mammograms later and may be screened less often, but we know that there is an early age of onset of breast cancer among Latino populations, and so if you change the guidelines based on the majority of people, these women will be left out.”

Another recommendation is that “cultural competency” become an integral part of medical school as well as continuing education for all health-care providers and administrative staff.

Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, praised the report, and said it “hit all the right points.”

Another statistic that I found staggering and scary is that approximately 41 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, and about 21 percent of us will die from cancer. The Presidential Panel noted cancers are becoming more common, particularly in children, and the proliferation of chemicals in water, foods, air and household products is widely suspected as a factor according to the Panel. I’m glad to see that the Panel recognizes that there is a link between cancers and chemicals – I intuitively knew that there had to be a connection as I’ve witnessed friends and family having to deal with childhood and young adult cancers. Thirty or forty years ago, you rarely heard of a child with cancer (or severe food allergies for that matter). With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented.

What Individuals Can Do: Excerpts from the Presidential Panel’s Recommendations.

Individuals can take important steps in their own lives to reduce their exposure to environmental elements that increase risk for cancer and other diseases. And collectively, individual small actions can drastically reduce the number and levels of environmental contaminants.

Children

·    It is vitally important to recognize that children are far more susceptible to damage from environmental carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting compounds than adults. To the extent possible, parents and child care providers should choose foods, house and garden products, play spaces, toys, medicines, and medical tests that will minimize children’s exposure to toxics. Particularly when pregnant and when children are small, choose foods, toys and garden products with fewer endocrine disruptors or other toxins. (Information about products is at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com or www.healthystuff.org)

Chemical Exposures
Individuals and families have many opportunities to reduce or eliminate chemical exposures. For example…

·    Removing shoes before entering the home and washing work clothes separately from the other family laundry.

·    Filtering home tap or well water… Unless the home water source is known to be contaminated, it is preferable to use filtered tap water instead of commercially bottled water.

·    Storing and carrying water in stainless steel, glass, or BPA- and phthalate-free containers.

·    Microwaving food and beverages in ceramic or glass instead of plastic containers.

·    Choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers and washing conventionally grown produce to remove residues…

·    Exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications if it is available. Avoiding or minimizing consumption of processed, charred, and well-done meats.

·    Properly disposing of pharmaceuticals, household chemicals, paints, and other materials.

·    Choose products made with non-toxic substances or environmentally safe chemicals.

·    Reducing or ceasing landscaping pesticide and fertilizer use will help keep these chemicals from contaminating drinking water supplies.

·    Turning off lights and electrical devices when not in use reduces exposure to petroleum combustion by-products because doing so reduces the need for electricity, much of which is generated using fossil fuels.

·    Driving a fuel-efficient car, biking or walking when possible, or using public transportation also cuts the amount of toxic auto exhaust in the air.

·    Reduce or eliminate exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke in the home, auto, and public places.

Radiation

·    Adults and children can reduce their exposure to electromagnetic energy by wearing a headset when using a cell phone, texting instead of calling, and keeping calls brief.

·    It is advisable to periodically check home radon levels. Home buyers should conduct a radon test in any home they are considering purchasing.

·    Patients should discuss with their health care providers the need for medical tests or procedures that involve radiation exposure.

·    Adults and children can avoid overexposure to ultraviolet light by wearing protective clothing and sunscreens when outdoors and avoiding exposure when the sunlight is most intense.

Self-Advocacy

·    Each person can become an active voice in his or her community… letting policymakers know that they strongly support environmental cancer research and measures that will reduce or remove from the environment toxics that are known or suspected carcinogens or endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Individuals also can influence industry by selecting non-toxic products and, where these do not exist, communicating with manufacturers and trade organizations about their desire for safer products.

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Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Categories: Chemicals, Ecology, Green Life, Living Green   Tags:

Chemicals in Cosmetics

What should I avoid when I am buying makeup or other personal care items?

These are the top 12 ingredients to avoid in your cosmetics. There is a link at the bottom to companies who pledge to avoid these chemicals.

1. Antibacterials
Overuse of antibacterials can prevent them from effectively fighting disease-causing germs like E. coli and Salmonella enterica. Triclosan, widely used in soaps, toothpastes and deodorants, has been detected in breast milk, and one recent study found that it interferes with testosterone activity in cells. Numerous studies have found that washing with regular soap and warm water is just as effective at killing germs.

2. Coal Tar
Coal tar is a known human carcinogen used as an active ingredient in dandruff shampoos and anti-itch creams. Coal-tar-based dyes such as FD&C Blue 1, used in toothpastes, and FD&C Green 3, used in mouthwash, have been found to be carcinogenic in animal studies when injected under skin.

3. Diethanolamine (DEA)
DEA is a possible hormone disruptor, has shown limited evidence of carcinogenicity and depletes the body of chlorine needed for fetal brain development. DEA can also show up as a contaminant in products containing related chemicals, such as cocamide DEA.

4. 1,4-Dioxane
1,4-Dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen that can appear as a contaminant in products containing sodium laureth sulfate and ingredients that include the terms “PEG,” “-xynol,” “ceteareth,” “oleth” and most other ethoxylated “eth” ingredients. The FDA monitors products for the contaminant but has not yet recommended an exposure limit. Manufacturers can remove dioxane through a process called vacuum stripping, but a small amount usually remains. A 2007 survey by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that most children’s bath products contain 10 parts per million or less, but an earlier 2001 survey by the FDA found levels in excess of 85 parts per million.

5. Formaldehyde
Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans. Yet it still turns up in baby bath soap, nail polish, eyelash adhesive and hair dyes as a contaminant or break-down product of diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea and quaternium compounds.

6. Fragrance
The catchall term “fragrance” may mask phthalates, which act as endocrine disruptors and may cause obesity and reproductive and developmental harm. Avoid phthalates by selecting essential-oil fragrances instead.

7. Lead and Mercury
Neurotoxic lead may appear in products as a naturally occurring contaminant of hydrated silica, one of the ingredients in toothpaste, and lead acetate is found in some brands of men’s hair dye. Brain-damaging mercury, found in the preservative thimerosol, is used in some mascaras. Despite the fact that some cosmetic industry people say lipstick can’t be made without lead, lead-free lipsticks are already on the market

8. Nanoparticles
Tiny nanoparticles, which may penetrate the skin and damage brain cells, are appearing in an increasing number of cosmetics and sunscreens. Most problematic are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles, used in sunscreens to make them transparent. When possible, look for sunscreens containing particles of these ingredients larger than 100 nanometers. You’ll most likely need to call companies to confirm sizes, but a few manufacturers have started advertising their lack of nanoparticle-sized ingredients on labels.

9. Parabens
(methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl-, isobutyl-) Parabens, which have weak estrogenic effects, are common preservatives that appear in a wide array of toiletries. A study found that butyl paraben damaged sperm formation in the testes of mice, and a relative, sodium methylparaben, is banned in cosmetics by the E.U. Parabens break down in the body into phydroxybenzoic acid, which has estrogenic activity in human breast-cancer cell cultures.

10. Petroleum Distillates
Possible human carcinogens, petroleum distillates are prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics in the E.U. but are found in several U.S. brands of mascara, foot-odor powder and other products. Look out for the terms “petroleum” or “liquid paraffin.”

11. P-Phenylenediamine
Commonly found in hair dyes, this chemical can damage the nervous system, cause lung irritation and cause severe allergic reactions. It’s also listed as 1,4-Benzenediamine; p-Phenyldiamine and 4-Phenylenediamine.

12. Hydroquinone
Found in skin lighteners and facial moisturizers, hydroquinone is neurotoxic and allergenic, and there’s limited evidence that it may cause cancer in lab animals. It may also appear as an impurity not listed on ingredients labels.

A few more chemicals to avoid

Moderate Hazard

UREA Imidazolldinyl, Diazolidinyl Urea: A preservative that often releases formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has a long list of adverse health effects, including immune-system toxicity, respiratory irritation and cancer in humans.

Alchohol Isopropyl (SD-40)
Drying, irritating solvent that strips skin’s moisture and immune barrier, making you vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Made from a petroleum derivative found in shellac and antifreeze as well as personal care products. Promotes brown spots and premature aging. A Consumers Dictionary of Cosmetics Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.

Sodium hydroxide
Found in drain, metal and oven cleaners, is extremely irritating to eyes, nose and throat and can burn those tissues on contact. The cosmetic industry is now putting it in skin care products and oral care products. The warning label on sodium hydroxide products reads “POISON. May be fatal or cause permanent damage if swallowed. May cause blindness. Avoid contact with skin, eyes, mouth and clothing.”

Skin Irritants

Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol
Petroleum by-products that act as surfactants (wetting agents and solvents), they easily penetrate skin and weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. The EPA requires workers to wear protective clothing and to dispose of any PG solutions in toxic waste dumps. Because PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against skin contact to prevent brain, liver and kidney abnormalities.

Sodium lauryl sulfate, used in about 90% of personal care products that foam, a common skin irritant. When rinsed off, the product will have cleaned the area but will have taken moisture from the top layers of skin. In people with sensitive skin the drying property of these type of detergents can cause flare-ups of skin conditions or may worsen existing conditions. Personal care product manufacturers often add back chemically derived oils such as mineral oil to coat the skin leaving the illusion of the skin being moisturized when in fact these products only interfere with the skin’s natural moisturizing abilities.

Mineral Oil
Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic wrap, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging.

What can you do?

Look for body care products from one of the 600 retailers that have signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Compact. These companies have pledged to phase out the 450 chemicals banned by the European Union in 2005 because they’re strongly suspected of being mutagens, carcinogens, or endocrine disrupters.

See the attached list of good ingredients for moisturizers.

The Cosmetics Database is a great resource for finding information on all your beauty products.

http://safecosmetics.org/search.php

http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Fay B. Castro - December 17, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Categories: Chemicals, Health and Wellness, Living Green, Non Toxic Products   Tags: