Anyone who has paid attention to cancer rates and scientific studies dealing with the everyday toxins we are subjected to knows that, yes, many chemicals are bad for us. Bad, bad, bad. Cancer-causing bad.
The European Union legislates the use of chemicals on the precautionary principle–if there is any doubt about a substance’s safety, ban it until it is proven innocent. But in the United States we have taken the opposite approach–substances are legal until they are proven lethal, and with all of the lobbying in favor of toxic chemicals, many dangerous substances are allowed. Case in point: the EU has a ban on approximately 1,100 ingredients used in cosmetics, the US bans less than a dozen.
So what’s the shocking news? In an op-ed in The New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof writes about the President’s Cancer Panel, “the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream,” which released a landmark 200-page report warning that “our lackadaisical approach to regulation may have far-reaching consequences for our health.” Someone finally woke up and smelled the BPA.
The report blames weak laws, lax enforcement and fragmented authority, as well as the existing regulatory presumption that chemicals are safe unless strong evidence emerges to the contrary. Hello precautionary principle! The report notes that “only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” adding that “many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”
I can already hear the loud, growling roar of the major chemical companies’ PR departments revving up their spin control–it’s not going to be pretty. But for now we have something yet to be seen, a government agency giving legitimacy to what many of us have long known: chemicals cause cancer.
Next: How to reduce the risk of cancer.
The President’s Cancer Panel suggests taking these steps to reduce your risk of cancer.
- Particularly when pregnant and when children are small, choose foods, toys and garden products with fewer endocrine disruptors or other toxins. Care2 tip: Safe Bath-time Fun.
- For those whose jobs may expose them to chemicals, remove shoes when entering the house and wash work clothes separately from the rest of the laundry. Care2 tip: Please Remove Shoes Before Entering.
- Filter drinking water.
- Store water in glass or stainless steel containers, or in plastics that don’t contain BPA or phthalates (chemicals used to soften plastics). Care2 tip: Eating It? BPA Found in Surprising Places
- Microwave food in ceramic or glass containers. Care2 tip: All About Kitchen Plastic.
- Give preference to food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers and growth hormones. Care2 tip: 15 Reasons to Eat Organic Food.
- Avoid meats that are cooked well-done. Care2 tip: Top 10 Foods That Increase Cancer Risk
- Check radon levels in your home. Radon is a natural source of radiation linked to cancer. Care2 tip: Cancer-Proof Your House.