Category Archives: Environmental Toxins

How Can Climate Change Impact Cancer Risk

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Climate change & Cancer_CPD comboMuch of the talk lately is about a heat wave. “Are you cooked?” “Are you baked?”

Yes, massive, harsh and dangerous heat waves that hit most regions of the country are certainly unwelcomed, and unexpected in its increasing intensity, frequency and duration. Sure, mother nature is something to blame, but climate change and consequential global warming cannot be ignored. Particularly, I’m going to weigh in an issue seemingly less visible yet closely related.

Global warming is no longer a theory or myth, rather a reality. Just look around – those extreme weather cases, more wildfires, more rainfalls and floods, especially the worst, deadly flooding in West Virginia in 1,000 years. A warming planet undoubtedly plays a role.

As an alarming and disturbing note, climate change posts the biggest threat to public health in the 21st century (Castello et al., Lancet 2009). Solid science has told us so. Now, a more specific question should be addressed – Is there a connection between climate change and cancer development? If so, how? My focus here is to explain how climate change affects a risk for cancer, directly and indirectly, in FIVE ways.

  1. Increased our exposure to toxic chemicals by heavy and long-lasting rainfalls or floods: Global warming followed by excessive rainfalls wash toxic chemicals into water and surrounding communities. Then what? Think about smoking. A cigarette releases plentiful chemicals (>7000); out of them about 70 are carcinogens (i.e. cancer-causing substances). These harmful agents damage almost every organ in the body by causing genetic or DNA mutation, leading to the development of cancer.
  2. More intensified exposure to toxins by higher temperature: Heat itself can make toxic chemicals either more poisonous or unstable with unpredictable fallouts.
  3. More bacterial growth driven by a warmer or higher temperature: Bacteria have been attributing to cancer through inducing chronic inflammation and generating bacterial metabolites as carcinogenic end-products.
  4. Increased diffusion of UV radiation by depleting stratospheric ozone (i.e. “good ozone”): As you know, the overexposure to UV radiation causes skin cancer. Noticeably, UV radiation also suppresses some aspects of immunity, as a result, weakening your defense against cancer.
  5. Reduced air quality we breathe by producing ground-level ozone (i.e. “bad ozone”): Increasing evidence suggests considerable or long-term exposure to air pollutants may lead to lung diseases, such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), though it’s not conclusive.

In addition, chronic exposure to air pollutants associated with global warming causes an increase in oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute to cancer. Research findings also reveal that sensitive individuals and vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly are more susceptible to air pollution related illness because of potential genetic predisposition.

So, collectively, climate change can impact cancer risk, cancer development, and for sure, cancer care. Any misconception of global warming is relatively naïve and potentially dangerous.

Climate change is largely man-made, which is beyond the scope of this article. However, it is clear that we must take responsibility to safeguard a healthy environment, because a healthy environment supports healthy living for each and every one of us.

 

Image credits: www.freeimages.com/; www.medicinenet.com/

10 Things Important to Know about Lead Poisoning

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Lead Q & Tap Water_CPDWhat are your thoughts on the Flint lead-poisoning water crisis? Are you concerned about the quality of your drinking water? Do you know how lead may impact your body in the long-term? Read on, you’ll get an instant and clear idea.

Exposure to lead is a serious public health problem because of its association with numerous damages to nearly every system in the human body and various cancers. Here are 10 key concerns and strategies you need to know:

1. A hidden fact: Lead contamination is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and likely symptomless. So, it often goes unknown.

2. Routes of lead toxicity: Lead can get into your body through the water you drink, the food you eat and the air you breathe. How can lead get into your water? Your municipal water system or your house may have pipes containing lead or joined with lead solder.

3. The critical numbers: For lead awareness, I suggest to focus on these two: First, tap water lead should be below the EPA’s action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) or 15 mg/L.Second, in children (esp. under age 5), a blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter (5 mg/dl) or higher should raise a red flag, as the reference level of CDC recommended public health initiatives. If their blood lead levels exceed 10 mg/dl, the children can be in serious trouble!

4. The irreversible health consequences: Lead is a common occupational and environmental toxin with well-known adverse effects on intelligence, school achievement and behavior. Lead exposure also increases a risk for a variety of chronic illnesses such as hypertension, heart disease and kidney disease.

5. The Link to cancer: Lead is one of the heavy metals that are classified as a probable human carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Lead has been linked to cancers of lung, stomach, breast, and renal cells, although further studies await.

6. The influence on generations: Lead compounds cause genetic impairment through various mechanisms including interfering with DNA synthesis and repair, interaction with DNA-binding proteins and tumor-fighting proteins, so genotoxicity can potentially pass on to generations.

7. Drinking and cooking water safety – 3 Rules:

  • Rule 1: Never use warm or hot tap water for drinking, cooking or mixing baby formula.
  • Rule 2: Flush the cold water system for 1-2 minutes especially when the faucet has not been used for several hours. (Otherwise, use the water that’s flushed out for other purposes.)
  • Rule 3: Most desirable is to filter tap water for drinking and cooking. It also costs less than buying bottled water.

8. Children and lead beyond water: Infants and children are susceptible to lead toxicity. So, test your children’s blood lead level.

In fact, the biggest source of lead poisoning in children today is dust and chips from deteriorating lead paint on interior surface or toys. Also be aware that Pica behavior (esp. the ingestion of lead-containing foreign bodies) is a well-established risk factor of lead intoxication in children that may cause grave consequences. Lead is such a ubiquitous environmental toxin widely distributed around the world (e.g. the soil in your kids’ playground) that as a surprise, some traditional herbs (e.g. Ayurveda) may contain toxic amounts of lead.

9. Enough calcium intake: Lead mainly interrupts calcium-dependent processes and calcium signaling in the cells. So ensure enough consumption of calcium and antioxidants from fresh veggies or fruits helps combat negative effects of lead.

10. Everybody has responsibility to prevent water polluting. Learning from the Flint water disaster, we all need to keep vigilant at protecting clean water sources. If you suspect any change in the water, immediately contact your local public health or water system authority.

Bonus ending: Bottled water can serve as an alternative, as the FDA sets specific regulations for it. Take a cautious measure, because not all bottled water is created equal, and bottled water may contain 40% or more of tap water.

 

Image credit: oxfordcounty.ca & CPD

Seven Novel Strategies for Spring or Anytime Cleaning to Prevent Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Spring flowers-fly-garden_PexelsFlowers are blooming and birds are singing as spring arrives after a long winter. Spring cleaning is a buzzword now. Some people are excited about cleaning for fresh and renewed homes; in contrast, others see spring cleaning as a daunting task and feel overwhelmed even just running down a long checklist. Either way is understandable.

Here is the point: spring cleaning doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all, and you can gain cancer prevention benefits out of different kinds of spring cleaning. You will know why after reading the novel yet actionable ideas and strategies I outline here.

1.     Manage spring cleaning with a workable goal.

It’s desirable all rooms and corners of your house spotless, but it’s not a must. So, setting a priority (e.g., the kitchen or bedroom) can be very workable, especially when time is not on your side. Furthermore, your goal is more achievable when you make spring cleaning a family function. A bonus is that working together as a family helps foster responsibility for kids. It’s of course important to do chemical-free cleaning (e.g., e-cloths, baking soda, and vinegar) if you can.

2.     Clean out junk foods to optimize your heart health and for cancer prevention.

Go to your refrigerator and your pantry and you will likely find foods or drinks containing some cancer-causing ingredients such as:

  • Trans fat: it increases your bad cholesterol (LDL) and at the same time lowers your good cholesterol (HDL). Therefore, it is not only a double whammy on your heart, but also a fireball for inflammatory diseases such as cancer.
  • Sweeteners: commonly used aspartame causes various illnesses from birth defects to cancer.
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or refined sugar: cancer cells have sweet teeth!
  • Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs): both GMOs and the chemicals used to grow them have been shown to promote tumor growth.
  • Processed meats: they contain cancer-promoting agents like sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate.
  • Canned food containing BPA.

3.     Clean mental clutter to lower stress and enhance immunity.

  • Get rid of stress.
  • Get rid of negative thoughts, worries, and self-doubts.
  • Take a yoga class, a bath, or a walk; treat yourself to a massage or go out for lunch or dinner with a friend; whatever works best as a stress reliever for you, just do it.

4.     Clean your mouth to reduce oral cancer risk.

  •  Quit smoking.
  •  Avoid alcohol.
  •  Make a daily habit of brushing and flossing your teeth.
  •  Schedule a dental cleaning and oral cancer screening.

5.     Clean the fat in your body to gain long-term health.

Obesity is a risk factor for certain cancers, in addition to increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So, by promoting fat breakdown, you may compensate certain aspects of obesity that cause diabetes. Certainly, you cannot gain a healthy weight overnight, but you do have options to modify your diet and lifestyle starting with cleaning out junk foods and taking actions such as:

  • Stay away from high-fat and high-sugar foods.
  • Start or continue a balanced diet rich in fresh veggies, fruits, proteins, and fiber.
  • Burn some fat by exercising and being more physically active.
  • Drink more water or tea instead of sugar- or sweetener-rich drinks.

6.     Clean the air to remove pollutants that cause cancer and allergies.

  • Check for and remove asbestos, a lung cancer-causing agent.
  • Test for radon level while increasing ventilation in your house. Radon is a radioactive but colorless, odorless gas.
  • Install an air freshener, which is a great aid to cleaning indoor pollutants.

7.     How about “digital cleaning”?

In this digital age, our lives are influenced by digital devices in many ways. “Digital hazards” can affect your health more than you may realize. You can help detox yourself from them simply by doing the following:

  • Clean your inbox. This can be a jump start of a “digital detox.” Eliminate all junk mail, and if possible stop those pesky unwanted emails from arriving in the first place. Delete old and useless email, and organize your inbox in more efficient ways.
  • Clean out all electronic wastes, such as old cell phones or other electronic devices, and take them to a safe disposal location designated by your local government. Donate your old computer to a cause if it’s still functional.
  • Clean viruses, spyware, and malware that may be in your computer. Backup your files and organize your passwords – whatever you do to make your computer run faster and less vulnerable to cyber threats, it will make your stress level lower and your life easier.
  • Keep your bedroom free of iPads, iPhones, and other digital devices as much as you can, because they are hazards to your snoozing, and consequently your health.

Of course, you can do more beyond these lists, but you get the idea.

I hope these strategies provide valuable insight into some small, easy, and quick steps you can take towards lowering your cancer risk. Spring or anytime cleaning of the areas outlined here can be a great strategy for cancer prevention and other health benefits.

 

Image credit: by Pexels

A Message from World Cancer Day 2015

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Does the word “cancer” scare you? Sure, it scares almost all of us.

Then the question is – Are you determined to do something every day to stay away from that “big C”?

environment-concept-1024966-mThis year’s World Cancer Day has focused on the fight against cancer with a positive and proactive approach to patient treatment and care. It also stresses that meeting challenge of prevention is not beyond our control. One of important approaches outlined is to promote an enabling environment for healthy living in our communities. Let me expand it a little more.

Raising awareness of healthy environment at home, work and communities at large is paramount. Harmful chemicals post a serious, sometimes lethal, threat to public health. Among them, some are known carcinogens to humans, others are tumor enhancers that are originated from the use of tobacco, alcohol and effects of food components as factors to promote cancers. Needless to say, many of them contribute to chronic illnesses such as heart problems, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease.

Keep in mind, these carcinogens and toxins are hidden, heavily-loaded, and unpleasantly surprised to many folks. Just take a quick tour around your home, you’ll have an inventory on the spot.

-   Household products from cleaners, drain openers, air fresheners to paints and art supplies

-   Personal care products such as body wash, shampoo, toothpaste, deodorants, and cosmetics

-   Food (fruits, vegetables, poultry, meat and fish) containing toxic pesticides, herbicides and preservatives

There could be more…

Toxic environmental agents play a role in developing cancers and devastating millions of lives. In addition, the negative consequence could have an impact on our next generations. Without doubt, public health perspective is logical and scientific. However, there are obstacles such as convenience, economic or profit interests, and sometimes politics.

Preventable exposure to toxins is a key to fighting cancer. That’s why we should do our parts to remove those “scaring carcinogens or toxins” from our food, water, and air. We should take small steps every day to avoid or minimize any harmful exposure, whenever and wherever possible. Eventually, we can reduce the risk of cancers that are preventable and are associated with hazardous environmental chemicals.

Let “Green” environment beautify the world!

 

Image credit: by spekulator

How to Prevent Childhood Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Yellow ribbon_Childhood cancerApproximately 15,700 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. Among them, an estimated 1,960 deaths are expected. Are you aware of these sober statistics?

Losing a child to cancer is unthinkable pain and despair to all parents, which is why we call to prevent the worst loss, and why this post will focus on education. I will help you understand potential risk factors and powerful strategic actions to prevent childhood cancer. Let’s dive right into it.

Characteristics of childhood cancers

The types of cancer that develop in children and adolescents differ from those that occur in adults. Cancers of lung, colon, breast, prostate and skin affect most American adults. However, the most common types of childhood cancer are leukemia, tumors of brain and central nervous system, and lymphoma. Some cancers from embryonic cells and/or in developing organs include neuroblastoma (peripheral nervous system), medulloblastoma (brain), nephroblastoma or wilms tumor (kidney), and retinoblastoma (retina of the eye), which are rarely seen in adults. Also, incidences of these childhood cancers vary by age.

What causes childhood cancer remains unclear. Different cancers have different risk factors. Again, unlike many cancers of adults, lifestyle-related risk factors (such as tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diet, etc.) do not play a significant role in a child’s risk of getting cancer. On the other hand, most childhood cancers result from inherited gene mutation or environmental factors or both, based on current research findings.

So, am I suggesting that we cannot do anything to prevent childhood cancer? No.

Strategies you can use and actions you can take

1.      Detect cancer early by genetic testing.

DNA makes up our genes and certainly influences our risks for developing certain diseases including cancer. A child may inherit DNA mutations from a parent that can increase his/her risk of cancer. The DNA changes are present in every cells of the child’s body, and the changes can be identified by testing the DNA of blood cells or other cells from the body. Genetic consulting is constructive for someone with a history of familial cancers.

2.      Delay the time for kids to use cell phone or mobile devices.

Brain tumor is the leading cause of cancer death in children. Radiation is a potential childhood cancer risk factor. There is growing evidence that it is associated with brain tumors, particularly because of the thinner skulls, still developing nervous system and brain of children. So be aware of electromagnetic fields and ionizing radiation. Don’t allow kids to use mobile phones, at least delay the time they start using it and limit the time they use it too.

3.      Avoid or limit environmental toxins in daily life.

I understand that it’s virtually impossible to escape environmental pollutants and toxic chemicals entirely nowadays. Environmental toxins are probably the most invasive and cumulative bombardment to a child’s early development and, of course, the threat to their health. Unquestionably, you can make every effort or make simple lifestyle choices to avoid your exposure to the following everyday toxins:

  • Heavy metals – found in mercury fillings, treated woods, vaccines, and factory farmed fish, sometimes in water
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – found in factory farmed fish
  • Asbestos – found in many building materials made before the mid to late 1970s
  • Dioxins – found in the fat of factory farmed animals
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – found in cosmetics, dry cleaned clothes, air fresheners, deodorants, paints and bug repellents
  • Passive smoking – A cigarette releases more than 7000 chemicals including carcinogens. Tobacco products damage almost every organ in the body, from mouth, eyes, lungs, guts, reproductive organs to bladder and bones.

4.      Avoid or minimize pesticides use at home. 

Exposure to pesticide is perhaps one of the most dangerous forms of environmental risk. The contribution of environmental risk factors in the context of genetic predisposition has been reported with inconsistent results. However, one human study showed an increased risk of leukemia in children whose mothers were working in agriculture and exposed to pesticides during pregnancy.

Pesticides can be found in various areas in a household, from garden sprays, bug repellents, head lice shampoos and flea sprays on your animals, to non-organic fruits and vegetables as well as factory farmed meats.

5.      Grow your own toxin-free vegetables or go organic.

You will get more vitamins, more minerals and more micro-nutrients and zero or less pesticides. One more bonus – it keeps you stay physically active.

6.      Quit smoking, esp. during pregnancy.

Tobacco smoking contains seventy known carcinogens and causes various types of cancer in adults. Do you want to take the risk of releasing cancer-causing substances into the blood stream that may travel to your baby’s body?

7.      Live a healthy lifestyle.

Lifestyle factors usually take many years to influence cancer risk, but it’s never too late to develop it. Eat plenty of nutrient-rich, antioxidant-rich foods, engage in physical activities, keep a positive attitude, and maintain a healthy weight. Living a healthy lifestyle can benefit not only yourself, your children’s health but also the future generations to come.

If you think this post is helpful, please share. Thanks.

Eat Broccoli for Protection from Carcinogens and Air Pollutants

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Broccoli n Green handsI like this quotation from Robert Louis Stevenson – “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” The wisdom applies not only to our life, but also to human health and earth health.

Today, let’s have a talk on broccoli, particularly what’s new and the long-term benefits from it.

A compound in broccoli, sulforaphane, has been shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties in many studies previously. Research indicates the chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic potential of sulforaphane in solid tumors and possibly in blood cancer, based on its anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer activities.

Recently, researchers have discovered that the same compound contained in broccoli also helps our bodies naturally remove carcinogens and some toxins present in heavily polluted air. These environmental toxins include benzene, a known carcinogen; and acrolein, a lung irritant. The clinical study was published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research in June.

Let’s think about it. Is this a better and safer way for our humans to reduce health risks from air pollution? Certainly is, especially without drugs or chemicals. In this way, a natural product helps the body defend unavoidable environmental pollutants. Again, it proves that food is the best medicine!

As you may know, benefits of broccoli extends to various health issues such as preventing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, allergies, osteoarthritis, and some ulcers as well as skin damage by UV radiation (effective when applied topically). Needless to say, how easily it can be done when integrating broccoli into daily diet, right? You can eat in raw (e.g. salads) or in cooked dishes after steaming, boiling, or quick-frying, etc. You can also mix it to veggie juice or smoothies.

The bottom line is – Eating more broccolis can go a long way towards enhancing your nutritional status as well as protecting you from environmental pollutants, cancer and some chronic illnesses.

Reference: Egner PA, Chen JG, Zarth AT, Ng D, Wang J, Kensler KH, Jacobson LP, Munoz A, Johnson JL, Groopman JD, Fahey JW, Talalay P, Zhu J, Chen TY, Qian GS, Carmella SG, Hecht SS, Kensler TW. Rapid and Sustainable Detoxication of Airborne Pollutants by Broccoli Sprout Beverage: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial in China. Cancer Prevention Research, 2014.

 

Image credit: by lockstockb, Avolore

8 Things You Can Do to Avoid or Minimize Benzene Exposure

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Benzene WarningHave you ever considered whether benzene may be being present in your workplace, community, or home?

Benzene is a widely used chemical. It is a colorless, flammable, and volatile organic compound with a pleasant, sweet smell.  Benzene is produced by the combustion of crude oil and gasoline. It is found in nature (e.g., in volcanoes and forest fires) and in cigarette smoke. It is also used to manufacture many types of products such as:

  • plastics
  • resins
  • nylon and synthetic fibers
  • rubbers
  • lubricants
  • dyes
  • detergents
  • drugs
  • pesticides

Benzene is a known environmental pollutant and carcinogen that has been linked to leukemia. Benzene exposure can also lead to numerous non-cancerous health problems that affect normal functions of the vital systems in the body such as cardiovascular, nervous, immune, endocrine, and reproductive systems.

The question is, how do you protect yourself and your family from any health hazards resulting from excessive benzene exposure? Here are eight actions you can take:

  1. Get well-informed. Know where benzene is in your vicinity, including what home products contain benzene.
  2. Avoid tobacco smoke, including passive smoke. Benzene is one of the carcinogens released from tobacco smoke. It is estimated that about half of benzene exposure in the United States is from cigarette smoke.
  3. Reduce outdoor exposure in areas around gas stations and areas containing motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, where the air contains higher levels of benzene.
  4. Keep indoor environments ventilated. Benzene in indoor air comes from products like glues, paints, furniture wax, detergents, and certain drugs. According to some experts, indoor air generally contains higher levels of benzene than outdoor air.
  5. Read labels when you shop for groceries, esp. soft drinks.
  6. Know your work-related exposure and protect yourself properly. In addition, if your company uses benzene in manufacture, try to ensure that it takes preventive measures since people working in industries that make or use benzene may be exposed to high levels of it.
  7. Be aware of other environmental sources of benzene. For instance, benzene can leak from underground storage tanks or from hazardous waste sites. Waste sites containing benzene can contaminate well water.
  8. In general, always do your best to avoid benzene and other toxic chemicals.

Overall, health damages associated with benzene exposure are serious, so don’t overlook this dangerous substance and take measures to prevent your exposure.

 

Take Actions and Steps to Reduce Air Pollution

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Air pollution full_1358341713BillBishopjan10-14Beijing1Are you concerned or scared about breathing in smoggy, hazy air in some big cities in China? Do you really consider the air in the United State is dirt-free? This post helps you realize the pressing need to control air pollution.

Air pollution has become the world’s single biggest environmental health risk, linked to around 7 millionor nearly one in eight deaths in 2012” – according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Generally speaking, there are two types of air pollution. Outdoor pollution comes from car exhaust fumes, industrial fumes and coal-burning, while indoor pollution comes from tobacco smoking, wood or coal stoves, and other sources from paint fumes, hair spray, air fresheners, cleaners to mold and dust.

Most people are well aware of lung diseases and lung cancer as major health risks of air pollution. Actually, air pollution has also been associated with deaths due to cardiovascular causes; particularly, a big indoor pollution-related killer is stroke. Moreover, WHO’s cancer agency classified air pollution as a carcinogen last year.

Although the government should invest in research and technology renovation to use renewable and non-polluting energy sources, we all can contribute our own part to promoting clear air and a healthy environment. Here are 12 things you can do:

  1. Plant trees.
  2. Support mass transit system or bike to reduce the use of single-passenger vehicles.
  3. Check and maintain your car to ensure minimal or lower exhaust fumes.
  4. Keep your lawn well-maintained, and try to use non-gasoline-powered landscaping and gardening equipment.
  5. Recycle, recycle and recycle to conserve energy and reduce production emissions.
  6. Do chemical-free house cleaning; avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers in your yard or garden.
  7. Reduce paper documents, and avoid junk mail.
  8. Save electricity. Less electricity consumed means less power produced and fewer air pollutants resulting from burning of fossil fuels.
  9. Use energy-saving or energy-efficiency appliances and heating/cooling systems at home.
  10. Reduce landfills by taking care of waste treatment and taking responsibility for a green community.
  11. Change the air filters from time to time as recommended, vacuum often, and get fresh air frequently to minimize certain indoor pollutants.
  12. Go for local produce!

Remember: it’s important to quit tobacco smoking and test radon gas at home. Also, check out EPA site for more guidance.

Collectively, these small daily choices we make often impact our lives and earth in big ways in the long-term. These conscious practices and efforts can keep our air cleaner, our environment greener, and our bodies healthier.

 

Image credit: By http://www.eastasianrc.org/

Top 3 Measures to Reduce Cancer Risks at Home

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

I originally published this article online nearly four years ago, and believe it’s important to repost for anyone who may not have read it.

Sweet home mug_6774667607_ec4114c718_nHome sweet home, this American saying might not hold true anymore, especially in terms of health concerns with modern lifestyle. Some health hazards are present right in the comforts of your home. It’s critical to recognize them. Three major areas that involve carcinogens (i.e. cancer-causing substances) include:

1.  Smoking and passive smoking
2.  Radon gas
3.  Personal care and household products

Smoking is a primary risk factor of lung cancer. Also, smoking aggravates cardiovascular diseases and is causally linked to developing cancer of the bladder, colon, pancreas, and upper digestive system. Individuals who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher risk of suffering from cancer due to carcinogens present in cigarette smoke.

While smoking is an obvious danger, radon gas is odorless and colorless, and worst of all, radioactive. Originating from rocks, soil, and dirt, radon can get trapped in houses or buildings and pollute indoor air. Radon is a known carcinogen and listed as the second cause of lung cancer after smoking, according to the WHO report. It is also the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, as EPA estimates. The potential hazards posed by exposure to indoor radon gas is still of great concern worldwide.

Many consumer products make our homes and work places unsafe, including those we take for granted, such as chemically formulated personal care products, indoor pest control products, and household cleaners. Noticeably, cleaning products are the leading cause of toxic air pollution in our homes, according to the Consumers Guide to Effective Environmental Choices published by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Ironically, household cleaning products are the most common yet most overlooked source of exposure to cancer-causing substances.

Increasing evidence indicates cancer-causing chemicals and toxins in our environment trigger cancer cells to grow out of control. Furthermore, air pollutants can cause birth defects, not to mention other health complications such as allergic reactions, skin burns, eye irritation, breathing problems, and endocrine disorders. So, it is important for us to seriously reconsider household cleaning supplies. A smell of “freshness” and satisfaction from clean settings can mask hazardous substances that bring long-term harm to human health.

To reduce cancer risk factors that you can control, take the following measures to limit your exposure to indoor air pollutants and make your home safe:

1.  Stop smoking and avoid passive smoking
2.  Take precaution against radon gas by increasing ventilation and getting your home tested for radon level.
3.  Start chemical-free and carcinogen-free cleaning.

Besides taking control of cancer-causing substances at your home, lifestyle modification is of significance in cancer prevention too. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid alcohol intake, get active and become fit. All these actions will help you keep cancer at bay.

 

Image credit: By essie

Occupational and Environmental Chemicals linked to Lung Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Hazard warning_safetyscene.co.ukTobacco smoking and passive smoking are well-known contributors to lung cancer. However, an overlooked risk factor is stemmed from cancer-causing substances in the workplace, communities or larger environment, and even at home. Vehicular smoke, industrial materials, toxic chemicals, fumes and exhaust are all kinds of environmental pollutants. The question is – at what level are you exposed to?

Everyday exposure in the workplace is a serious concern, because the exposure to harmful substances at high levels and over a long period of time can be a lethal threat to your health. Today, I’m helping you understand what common occupational substances may increase your risk of lung cancer, and how you can protect yourself and your family.

First, what to raise your awareness?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified several occupational materials/agents as lung carcinogens or possible carcinogens to human. Numerous research has established the link between an increased risk of lung cancer and excessive exposure to common occupational materials.

Occupational and/or environmental substances associated with lung cancer include:

  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Chromium
  • Formaldehyde
  • Nickel
  • Arsenic
  • Silica
  • Coal gasification
  • Tars
  • Soot
  • Diesel fumes
  • Radiation

For the general population, although the exposure levels to most of these agents are likely insufficient to produce serious health damage, it is wise to become informed and cautious.

Second, how to protect you from potential lung carcinogens?

Top Ten Tips:

  1. Keep informed, especially know what you are exposed to in the workplace and what you can do to protect yourself.
  2. Always wear protective clothing, items and equipment as occupational safety requires.
  3. Read the labels and follow the instructions. This is important whenever and wherever you handle chemical-containing products.
  4. Stick to the rules or regulations on dealing with hazard wastes.
  5. Make sure that your employer is aware of certain job-related potential danger to human health and have protective measurements in place.
  6. Take your shoes off at the door to avoid tracking potential toxins from the bottom of the shoes around your home.
  7. If necessary, separate your work clothing from those of the family when doing laundry.
  8. Take precautions about the chemicals you use in your home.
  9. Check radon levels in your house. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “high exposure” to radon as its level being 4 pCi/L and above.
  10. Avoid or limit unnecessary radiation exposure.

These practices are particularly imperative to people who are already at risk for lung cancer, including, but not limited to, those

  • with previous lung diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) and chlamydia pneumonia
  • with a family history of lung cancer
  • with lowered immunity
  • Smokers and second-hand (or passive) smokers

Finally, early detection is a key. If you experience any symptoms such as frequent cough, breathing difficulty, wheezing, chest pain, or unexplained weight loss, consult your doctor.

If this is helpful, please share. Thanks.

Image credit: By Safetyscene.co.uk