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2004, age 34 — this is my story

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Toxic Risk: Cancer and Environmental Toxins

Reader Krista wrote today’s thought-provoking post. She raises the concern that toxic junk surrounds us, and that it might just be causing our cancers. Aware of the recent cell phone/cancer conversation? That’s the sorta stuff Krista is talking about. Read on, and you’ll see. (And thank you, Krista, for sharing your words!)

In many cases, some people believe the bridge between environmental toxins and health issues like cancer to be somewhat overstated. Unfortunately, this could not be more false. In everyday life, there are nearly 100,000 different chemicals being used all over the world. Of that 100,000, only a few hundred have actually been tested for their ability to cause cancer. In just the small amount of testing of those few hundred, there have been numerous ties to cancer-causing chemicals.

The effect of chemicals and toxic materials on cancer cases can also be tied to the high amount of cases in elderly people. As people age, the body’s ability to metabolize and remove chemicals is reduced. These chemicals can stay around in an older body and cause more problems and health risks. Even though awareness should always be high for environmental toxins, the elderly should have an extra eye on the dangers.

In 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel (an advisory group on cancer) called for more research on environmentally related cancer and toxins. They claimed that while there is some evidence of long-term effects, without research, the true burden of environmentally related cancer will be extremely underestimated.

The panel pointed towards some ways to cut down on the risk of these toxins in the near future. This includes filtering tap water and not using plastic plates, as well as eating food without pesticides or fertilizers and processed meat. They claimed that cutting down cell phone use, reducing radiation exposure, and checking home radon levels as other important recommendations to reduce these health risks.

The actual types of cancer are not to be taken lightly, and one of the most vulnerable places can be inside or around the house. Houses have been key spots for exposure to radon, asbestos, and as a result, mesothelioma. Radon can rise up from the ground, while asbestos material is a common fiber found in many older insulation and homes. These risks are not to be disregarded as there is no mesothelioma cure, making asbestos exposure highly dangerous.

Some may come away from these reports and believe that they overstate or scare people about cancer. It’s not intended to do that, but it simply shows the importance of being aware and taking steps to help prevent any of these risks in the future. Emphasis on the panel’s recommendations will not only have a positive effect in cutting down environmental cancer risk, but also in improving health in general.