Green-living advocate Sara Snow recently joined health guru Deepak Chopra, CEO Jeanne Rizzo (of Breast Cancer Fund) and CEO John Replogle (of natural household product company Seventh Generation) to discuss carcinogens -- cancer-causing elements -- added to cleaning, laundry, personal care and baby care products. Scientists have identified links between ingredients in many of the products we use every day and breast cancer; being exposed to such ingredients has been thought to increase our risk for catching the disease.
The panel conversed about a proposed USDA Certified Biobased label to identify products that don't use harmful chemicals, similar to the way that organic food is labeled.
"Fifty percent of Americans are unaware these products contain petroleum-based ingredients," Replogle said. "[They] want to protect their well-being but are highly confused. Consumers need to be regulators and make demands on legislature about ingredient disclosure."
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Women, who naturally have more fat cells than men, are at particular risk because toxins are largely fat-soluble and are stored in body fat. Rizzo spoke directly of the harmful chemicals that make up fragrances added to products.
"Thousands of chemicals are put into conventional household products to create fragrance," she said. "The more fat you're holding, the more chemicals you're holding in your body. It's a very vicious cycle. We need to shift the research to prevention. A paradigm shift is critical."
Prevent vs. cure
Chopra advocated preventive lifestyle choices to remove toxins from our daily lives — and therefore our environment:
“The insanity of it is that we spend so much money on curing illnesses that in all probability — I would say 100 percent probability — we are responsible for.”
“Two-thirds is not enough,” he said, referring to a recent study that found two thirds of American adults expressed concern about household chemicals. “It should be 100 percent.”
Inside the cancer industry
Dr. Margaret I. Cuomo’s book title makes a bold claim. But is “A World Without Cancer” really possible?
“It’s not only possible, it’s necessary,” she says.
One school of thought about the disease is that it has always existed. Another is that it’s the result of the postindustrial revolution age.
“We really don’t know if cancer’s always existed,” she says. “There was no documentation back then. What we do know is that the industrial age brought a host of toxins that didn’t exist before.”
Rather than fight cancer, Dr. Cuomo advocates a personal and societal policy of avoiding it. But with legislation favoring cures over prevention, and pharmaceutical companies calling the shots, she argues that cancer has become an industry itself.
“Only five percent of every dollar spent on health care goes to prevention. The billions spent on treatments that prolong life for weeks or months, or even result in other illnesses — we can’t afford that route.”
Prevention means stopping toxins entering our environment and therefore our bodies.
“Industry needs to step up, government needs to step up and people need to make the right choices,” she says. “Lessen your toxic load.”