Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top Ten Environmental Health Tips From 2007

According to the National Cancer Institute, two-thirds of cancer are related to our environment. Yesterday, we listed our top ten nutrition tips based on 2007 studies. Today we share our tips from studies that evaluated environmental risk and cancer.

10. Raise your awareness about environmental chemicals.

The Silent Spring Institute, in conjuction with Harvard University, the University of Southern California, and Roswell Park Cancer Institute, reviewed all animals studies that suggest a link between chemicals in our environment and breast cancer. Over 60 of these are found in common household products! Links to the study, including a list of the chemicals found suspect are available. We also created a table listing some of the common items these chemicals are found in, and alternatives available.

9. Purchase a water filter.

The news this year has frightened many, as they discovered municipal wells in their communities are contaminated by carcinogens. The study above also lists chlorinated water as a breast cancer carcinogen in animals. Having a water filter eliminates the need to worry.

8. Find a wet-cleaner or liquid CO2 cleaner, and skip the drycleaner.

Perchloroethylene, used in chemical drycleaning establishment, is a carcinogen, and those who work in drycleaning establishments have an elevated risk of developing cancer. To find alternatives by zip code, check out our August 28, 2007 blog entry.

7. Don't mix infant formula with fluoridated water.

The American Dental Association has adviced against the use of fluoridated water in infant formula. Not only does fluoridated water in formula fail to protect babies teeth, but can actually damage them -- while at the same time increasing later risk for osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer.

6. Limit cell phone use in children.

While the jury is still out on the safety of cell phone use in children, many European countries have recommended children minimize use until more is known. Isn't the skyrocketing childhood obesity rate in the USA reason enough to follow suit?

5. Avoid products containing phthalates.

Several phthalates, plasticizers found in a wide range of products, have been banned or restricted for use in childrens products in Europe. Recently, California followed the lead and placed a similar ban. Ideally, look for products which carry the label "Phthalate free."

4. Go organic and avoid home and garden pesticides.

A Canadian study recently demonstrated an elevated risk of developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma in those exposed to organochlorine pesticides. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has been steadily increasing in frequency in the U.S.

3. Choose lipstick without lead.

A scan of the headlines recently - which listed lipsticks containing lead, left us wondering how we can know whether or not a product is safe. For starters, check out the Environmental Working Group. This website has product information on thousands of personal care products, and not only lists carcinogens, but gives them a grade of one to ten based on safety.

2. Weigh risks and benefits of any medical procedure using radiation.

Earlier this year, cancer risk to women undergoing coronary angiography surfaced. More recently, the use of CT scans in children was again brought to the table, and it is felt that as many as 2 percent of all cancers may be related to CT scans given now. These tests can save lives, but warrant a careful discussion of risks and benefits with your healthcare provider. Questions to consider asking are listed in our July 25, 2007 blog entry.

1. Let the sun shine in!

Studies this year have vitamin D on center stage basking in the spotlight. Vitamin D has be associated with significant reductions not only in breast cancer, but colon cancer and now lung cancer as well. The magic number appears to be in the realm of 1000 IU's per day, something quite difficult to obtain by diet alone. Ten to fifteen minutes in the sun (without sunscreen) on most days, can result in the absorption of this cancer preventing dose. Canada, with a latitude where absorption of vitamin D in the winter is quite low, and a climate discourages exposure to the sun, a daily supplement of vitamin D has been recommended.

***2007 also marks the year where a renowned epidemiologist on the "inside," has shared her knowledge explaining why we fail to hear about so many measures we could be taking to lower our risk of cancer. Our thanks to Dr. Devra Davis for "having the guts" to publish "The Secret History of the War on Cancer," and to the Center for Evironmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh.

For more practical tips on the environment and cancer prevention, buy Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time.

Top Ten Nutrition Tips For 2007

2007 was filled with studies loaded with tips for health and wellness. Nutrition begins our top ten countdown for a healthier 2008.

10. Limit soft drinks to less than one per day.

Those who drink more than one soft drink per day have a 44 percent greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those who drink less than one per day. And, it does not matter if the soft drink is regular or diet.Metabolic syndrome substantially raises the risk not only of heart disease, but several other conditions as well. The definition requires three or more of the following:

- excess waist circumference
- high blood pressure
- elevated triglycerides
- low HDL (good) cholesterol
- high fasting blood sugar

9. Limit foods containing acrylamide.

Acrylamide is a human carcinogen that is found in starchy foods that are heated, especially items such as french fries and potato chips. The attorney general of California settled a suit with one fast-food company this year, requiring that acrylamide content of foods carry a warning. More recently, foods high in acrylamide were linked with an increased risk of developing endometrial and ovarian cancer. Acrylamide content of various foods can be found at

8. Add these cancer fighting foods to your diet

- Apples - Apples have been known for some time to lower the risk of lung cancer, but appear to aid in the fight to prevent breast cancer as well. They may even reduce asthma and allergies in children.

- Black raspberries - Black raspberries slow the growth of a pre-cancerous condition that can lead to esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the U.S.

- Raw cruciferous vegetables - Even three servings a month can lower your risk of bladder cancer.

- Lemon to Green tea - Adding lemon to green tea results in much better absorption of catechins, the cancer fighters in green tea.

- Broccoli and tomatoes in unison - The combination of broccoli and tomatoes together packs a bigger punch against prostate cancer than addition alone would suggest.

7. Try to get your vitamins from dietary sources.

A study published in Cancer Research, demonstrated that diets high in vitamin B6, B12, and folate, were associated with decreases in the risk of pancreatic cancer of 81,73, and 57 percent respectively. Unlike those who got these vitamins through their diet, those who got vitamins in the form of a multivitamin supplement actually had a small increase in risk.

6. Limit alcohol intake.

Despite the studies on heart health and moderate alcohol consumption, a new study this year reinforced cancer risks with the consumption not only of hard liquor, but beer and wine as well.

5. Look for foods high in vitamin D and calcium.

Vitamin D and calcium intake are associated with a lower risk of pre-menopausal breast cancer. Dairy products, independent of vitamin D and calcium, are linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer.

4. A low fat diet isn't just for those with high cholesterol.

Women who lowered their intake of dietary fat for a period of four years, were 40 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer.

3. Limit red and processed meats.

Regular consumption of red meat and especially processed meats is associated with an increased likelihood of developing cancer.

2. Eat your vegetables!

Despite a disappointing study that did not show improved survival from breast cancer with a vegetable rich diet, veggies have not lost their starring role in cancer prevention. In a large study this year, it was found that Chinese women who exchanged their traditional "vegetable-soy" diet for a "meat-sweet" western diet, were 60 percent more likely to develop breast cancer.

1. Limit your dietary intake - period.

This year the American Institute for Research on Cancer reviewed the evidence to date regarding the role of diet in cancer. Previous evaluation of the studies supports their claim that 30 to 40 percent of cancers could be prevented by a healthy diet and exercise alone. What clearly stood out this year was the impact of excess weight and calories on cancer risk. Currently, 20 percent of cancer in men and 14 percent in men are directly related to obesity.

Coming next, "Top Ten Environmental Health Tips from 2007." For further information on cancer prevention and the role of diet and the environment, read Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time: Practical Advice for Preventing Cancer.