Tag Archives: Spring Cleaning

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

Seasonal Beauty Clears the Mind and Benefits the Body

If you live around the Washington, DC area, you may have seen the cherry trees in full bloom around the Tidal Basin. If not, have a peek of these wonderful shots taken at the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Cherry Blosm_4495310685_cb11c3bc83_mJ.Memorial Blosm_4495277343_b1f87ae2e6_mBack to our topic on spring cleaning. This is a great time to de-clutter not only our spaces but also our minds. The winter doldrums have passed, and spring speaks of new beginnings. Human emotions and/or thoughts, negative and positive, influence our bodies and can be reflected in physiological and immune interactions. It has become abundantly clear that positive emotions and psychological well-being have beneficial effects on physical health. Conversely, negative emotions or attitudes, as well as stress, appear to weaken one’s natural resistance to carcinogenic attacks. So if anything needs clearing, it’s our mind.

There are many ways to clear your mind, such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, listening to relaxing music, going outdoors, writing journals, or simply doing less. Let’s just talk about the joy of seasonal beauty like cherry blossom viewing in America’s capital. I’m sure that folks outside DC can also enjoy their own variety of nature’s splendor during spring time.

Monument Blosm 2010_4495311641_78832c8c30_mGorgeous sunshine and spring wind are accompanied by a magnificent show of pink and white flowers at the peak of blooming. Taking a walk along the Tidal Basin, indulging in nature’s beauty and spectacular views — water, trees, and flowers, plus such national treasures as Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial — brings with it a positive and relaxed mood, one easily shared with family and loved ones. A good long walk takes energy, yet amazingly such peaceful scenes can create energy as well.

Do you know there are 12 kinds of cherry trees that grow around the Tidal Basin? Well, I can also list more than 12 positive emotions and actions I associate with cherry blossoms: appreciation of nature, time with family and friends, relaxation, happiness, joy, love, energy, positive feelings from walking, positive moods and thoughts, smiling and laughter, de-cluttering of the mind, taking a break from stress, favorite activities, engaging in the present, and letting go of negatives. All of these effects promote physical and psychological well-being.

Do you have similar experiences? Without a doubt, they too benefit your immune system and aid in cancer prevention.

What’s your experience of cherry blossom viewing? What are your favorite ways to clear your mind? If you like this post, please bookmark it or share it. Thanks.

Photo credits: by daveynin

Anatomy of Canned Foods: There’s More Than Just Food

Canned food_3711818475_26f94af1c7_mDo you have a variety of canned foods stocked in your pantry and/or refrigerator?  Spring cleaning is the time to get rid of them and keep them out of both your pantry and body for good. Nowadays the variety of canned foods ranges from drinks, juice, soups, fruits and vegetables, to fish, meat, and whole chicken. Although canned foods are convenient and inexpensive, they pose specific hazards to your health.

Potential health hazards, particularly cancer risks

Let’s take a peek inside the can:

1. The chemical BPA (Bisphenol A) has been used for years in can liners, other than clear plastic bottles. BPA has been linked to serious health problems such as reproductive abnormalities, diabetes, heart disease, and increased risks for breast and prostate cancer. According to Consumer Reports, “the latest tests of canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, have found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods we tested contain some BPA. …We even found the chemical in some products in cans that were labeled ‘BPA-free’.” (Read the full article here)

Here is the catch: It’s important to know that just because a canned food is organic doesn’t mean it is sold in a BPA-free can. And just because a can is labeled “BPA-Free,” doesn’t mean it has been proven no BPA exists in the can/food.

2. Preservatives and additives are used in canned foods. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are widely used as preservatives or stabilizers. Yes, they are antioxidants, and add to a food’s shelf life. Still, they pose certain cancer risks. BHA is a possible human carcinogen. BHT may react with other ingested substances, causing the formation of carcinogens. Both BHA and BHT are toxic to the liver and kidneys.

3. Canned foods are processed foods, typically altered from their natural state for convenience and for certain safety reasons. For instance, sodium nitrite is used to preserve color and flavor of meat products. Processed meats carry nitrates and nitrites. They combine with stomach acids and chemicals in foods to form carcinogens. Regular consumption of processed meats is associated with various types of cancer, including lung, colon, esophagus, and liver. Additionally, food companies often use coal tar products (known carcinogens) for coloring and flavoring.

4. Other ingredients (such as salt, sugar/refined sugar, soda) are also found in canned foods. While these products have not been shown to cause cancer directly, they may increase the risk of obesity. Obesity contributes to 20 percent of cancer deaths in women and 14 percent in men. In addition, high intake of salt or refined sugar is also associated with cancer of the breast and upper digestive tract.

Because children are much more susceptible to any toxins, it is especially important to make sure the food you feed them and the containers and bottles you use to feed them are safe.

The bottom line

When it comes to your health, follow this ABC:

Avoid canned food
Best Buy is fresh food
Consider frozen food

What’s your thought about canned foods? If you like this post, please share it.

Photo Credit: by Srinath TV

Plastics, Potentials, Protection

200px-Recycle001.svgCertain plastic containers and bottles have been linked to cancer risk. Several scientific studies have demonstrated that a biologically active chemical BPA (Bisphenol A) is released from polycarbonate bottles into the bottle content after simulated normal use. BPA can be released when the plastic item is washed, heated, and/or re-used. This impacts adults as well as children.

To protect yourself from serious health problems and cancer risks associated with exposure to BPA in plastic containers/bottles, we previously provided some information and tips in our website and blog. We offer more related topics for your interest:

Fist, get to know your plastics. The number inside the universal recycling symbol (with three chasing arrows) simply represents the type of plastic being used. For those curious, if you want to explore the chemical structures of these items, go here.

Second, be wise with plastics. Sort out what to use and what to avoid. Noticeably, research suggests that cancer is linked to plastic packaging. With spring cleaning upon us, put some effort into de-cluttering these potential health hazards.

Finally, protect the safety of others and the earth. There are different kinds of recycling symbols, and Recycling Symbols Made Easy has clearly illustrated them.

Caution: Not all plastics are recyclable. Please call your local municipal authority to find out what kind of items gets recycled. Cancer-causing particles can also be found in the air we breathe. Remember we are responsible for our environment.

What’s your thought on plastics?

Picture credit: en.wikipedia.org

Spring Cleaning: Control Indoor Dust

Many people are aware of health risks from exposure to outdoor pollution or sources like cigarette smoke, but many remain ignorant of health hazards from indoor dust.

What can indoor dust do to your body?

Crawling_1345796643_4159cd3fba_mOn the surface, dust may seem trivial, more of an annoyance than a health risk. However, think about it carefully. Dust contains various harmful substances, such as bacteria, viruses, mold, lead, endocrine disrupters, and cancer-causing chemicals. Because indoor environments have a limited volume of air, low levels of dust and pollutants can make up higher concentrations of these particles per breath, contributing to higher levels of risk to the human body.

The most vulnerable are young children. They spend a lot of time indoors, often at floor level, playing and putting toys or objects in their mouths. They may swallow indoor dust via a hand-to-mouth behavior as they play on the floor, becoming exposed to harmful chemicals in the dust. This reality, coupled with physiological factors including a smaller body size and an immature immune system, make children particularly at risk from pollutants in indoor dust.

How can you reduce health risk from indoor dust?

Fortunately, we can control indoor dust. Spring cleaning is an excellent opportunity to do so. Here are seven simple yet effective ways to control dust and pollutants in your home:

1. Use a wet cloth, instead of “dry dusting” them around.

2. Leave your shoes near the door, if possible. A recent study revealed that most floor dust is actually tracked in from the outside and may contain potentially harmful substances.

3. Regularly replace filters on heating and air-conditioning systems. The filters help remove dust from indoor air, as long as they are cleaned, well maintained, and/or periodically replaced.

4. Install an air purifier. Air-purification devices can help reduce the amount of pollutants present in closed indoor spaces.

5. Decorate with house plants. House plants not only convert carbon dioxide to oxygen but also absorb some pollutants to make air cleaner. However, not all house plants can function efficiently in filtering out pollutants or toxins from indoor air. Make sure to pick the right one.

6.  Open windows and use a fan when cleaning. The act of cleaning stirs settled dust into the air. When cleaning, point the fan toward the window or use the fan against the window to blow dust outside.

7.  Change the bags in your vacuum cleaners often. Vacuum cleaners whose bags are overfull will not function properly, only dispersing dust into the air – very counterproductive indeed.

Photo Credit: by whgrad

What else can you add to the list? What experience can you share?

New 2010 Spring Cleaning Checklist

Pink Maglonia_130867807_415e2784d9_mSpring is fast approaching and with it, the need for spring cleaning. We get the job done by going room by room, closet by closet, putting winter clothes away, throwing away or donating what we feel we no longer need, and maybe doing a few extra chores. While it’s a tradition to follow the above agenda, this guide will not only help you freshen up your home, but also help you maximize physical and mental health benefits.

As you go through your home, taking the following measures helps reduce your risk to potential health hazards.

1. Eliminate household cleaners and pesticides as much as possible, because their ingredients contain cancer-causing chemicals (i.e., carcinogens). Although some toxic chemicals cause serious illnesses in addition to cancer, much of their long-term effects on human health remain unknown.

2. Go through all the plastic toys, food packaging, bottles, containers, supplies and materials, and toss those that are potentially harmful. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic often contains additives such as lead and phthalates. Phthalates have been linked to male reproductive problems and cancer. How do you know what to toss? One way you can tell if a product is made with PVC is to look for the number “3″ inside or the letter “V” underneath the universal recycling symbol. Remembering this little rhyme may also help: “4, 5, 1 and 2; all the rest are bad for you.”

3. Remove anything that has a strong chemical odor. For example, odor released from vinyl has a “chemical” smell to it.  Items like shower curtains and liners, placemats and table linens, packaging for personal or travel accessories often contains vinyl.

4. Get ride of any plastic container or bottle with the number 7 inside the universal recycling symbol on the bottom, because it most likely contains BPA. Also another rule of thumb is to recylce those items that are heavily scratched.

5. Don’t forget to eliminate other not-so-obvious items that contain BPA including:
- Useless or unusable CDs
- Expired credit cards or other plastics
- Recycled paper-made books or magazines
- Receipts printed from gas station machines or similar auto-machines that are not needed for your records.

6. Limit canned food. First, if it contains meat, processed meat may increase your cancer risk. Second, the lining of canned food contains BPA. So, reduce your intake of canned foods, eat fresh or frozen foods instead.

7. Eliminate the foods that contain high content of Trans Fats. They’re really bad for your heart and your body.

8. Check out the labels of personal care products (for example, nail polish). The FDA requires that phthalates be listed unless they are an ingredient in fragrances. Phthalates are used in some nail polishes to reduce cracking. Choose personal-care products that do not contain synthetic fragrances.

9. Improve the air you breathe by checking radon levels, quitting smoking, and using an air purifier. Blue flower_2478841847_794283941d_m

10. Clear your mind! When things go wrong, it’s quite common to have negative thoughts, little voices, and emotions. Too much of this clutters the mind, then the brain doesn’t have enough space for positive thoughts. Even worse, you can end up depressed. Changing perspective can help. Spring cleaning is about removing dirt and getting rid of clutter. Do it for your mind, too. Free more space for positive and creative thoughts.

Well, these projects will add more work to your traditional spring cleaning. Yet these tasks are important since they could make substantial differences in the quality of your living space. So get all your family motivated and involved. Start walking through your home in search of stuff you don’t need, particularly the items mentioned above. The rewards?  A truly clean, fresh  home, an organized life, and physical and mental health benefits.

What’s your plan for spring cleaning? If you like this post, please share it.

Photo credit: Pink magnolia by Muffet; Blue macro by spisharam