MINDFUL: Think about what’s nearby
Before any change, we have to be mindful that something isn’t right. Environmental toxins are so ubiquitous – in our food, water, air, sky, earth, sun, emissions, house paint, everyday products, microwaves, upholstery, children’s play sets – that we first need to acknowledge that there are toxic sources – inside and outside of our immediate environments. Harmful chemicals range from dioxins (e.g., cancer, birth defects) to fine particulate matter (e.g. lung cancer, autism, asthma), not to mention UV rays that cause skin cancer.
I discuss the disturbing links between environmental toxins and human health in my book, Nurture Nature Nurture Health: Your Health and the Environment, and my latest book, The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of Your Genetic Destiny Through Diet and Lifestyle, due in April, provides numerous solutions and “antidotes.”
Below are lists of the major classes of chemical pollutants and health alarms that, unfortunately, keep growing.
- POPs (persistent organic pollutants) that include PCBs, dioxin, furans, and pesticide residues that can persist in our bodies for years.
- EDCs (endocrine disrupter chemicals such as PCPs and dioxins) that affect endocrine and reproductive systems.
- EMFs (electromagnetic fields), microwave and UV radiation.
- PM10 and PM 2.5 (tiny particulate matter) found in air from emissions. • Asbestos, nuclear waste, lead, arsenic, mercury. • Pesticides and herbicides found in our water, food, soil, air.
- Every year over 200,000 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2015, more than 20,000 American women are expected to to have ovarian cancer.
- Women with the BRCA mutation born after 1942, have a dramatically increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. No coincidence that the use of industrial chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides proliferated after World War II.
- Obesity is another chronic disease that is linked to accumulation of toxic entities that persist in fat.
- Children’s lymphoma has increased 30% since 1973.
- Aluminum, used in everything from sunscreens to aerosol deodorants, has been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease in a 30-year study out of England.
- Traffic-related air pollution has been linked to autism in an American study.
Two recent developments will aid in monitoring our exposures and adverse effects on our health. Our own, common-sense monitoring, however, is paramount. If you see or suspect any unusual body reactions – rash, trouble breathing, dark spots on the skin, etc. – go to your physician. Waiting is not a healthy option.
Theranos is a Silicon Valley company which has developed blood testing from just a few drops of blood that can test for cancer and environmental toxins. Testing can be done at home as well as at increasing numbers of Walgreen pharmacies. Tests are quicker and less expensive.
Meanwhile, a Maryland teenager, Jack Andraka, has invented a tool for detecting pancreatic, lung, and ovarian cancer. In development are new tests for pollution exposure. Also, the United Kingdom’s NHS (National Health Service) has announced 11 Genetic Medicine Centers in England that will gather DNA samples to develop targeted treatments focusing on cancer (25,000 patients) and genetic diseases (15,000 patients).
- If your air conditioner was made before 1996, it probably contains CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) that contribute to ozone layer depletion.
- Sleep on the side of the house away from outdoor overhead wires.
- Use only ceramic containers in microwaves.
- Don’t put the headboard of your bed next to the wall that has a TV on the other side.
- Cooking sprays can be a source of small particulate matter.
- Space heaters, wood stoves, even fireplaces, can produce combustion products in indoor air.
- Skip synthetic air fresheners.
Bottom line: Check labels for warning signs. Skip products with labels that say “Danger” or “Poison.” “Caution” indicates limited use. “Warning” applies to the least toxic materials.
Remember, there are simple things we can do every day to minimize, if not eliminate, toxic exposure. Here are just a few.
- Never microwave infant’s milk.
- Limit your use of hair dryers and electric blankets.
- Eat only organic meats, fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid products with chlorine.
- Avoid processed meats.
- Replace aluminum.
- Skip synthetic air fresheners.
- Never smoke – indoors or outdoors. If you smoke, quit.
A pioneer in the field of epigenetics is geneticist Mary-Claire King, who has identified genetic links between environmental toxins and breast cancer, ovarian cancer, HIV, lupus, and mapped a 99-percent, genetic identity between humans and chimpanzees. She has identified genetic linkage between human rights abuses, torture, illegal adoptions, death, and disease.
Her work is groundbreaking and further evidence that our bodies are not static, destiny is not fixed, and that it is never too late to bring back balance. Eliminating environmental toxins in our homes and foods is certainly a way that we can begin to embrace the health that is our natural birthright.