You Can Greatly Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer
MOST CANCERS ARE
RELATED TO VOLUNTARY LIFESTYLE CHOICES. Clearly proven causes of cancer
include: tobacco, poor diet, obesity, alcohol consumption, some sexually transmitted
diseases, particular reproductive / genetic patterns, sunlight, ionizing
radiation (like X-rays and radiation therapy), certain chemicals, chemotherapy
(yes, often-prescribed radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments have a HIGH
RISK OF CAUSING CANCER), insufficient antioxidant
fruits and vegetables, polluted or untested genetically-engineered foods and
100 million birds and 20,000 humans each year, mostly by cancer. This includes
household, lawn and agricultural pesticides used on our food and natural
fibers, especially cotton. Industrial pollution, household cleaners, lack of
healthy exercise, some plastics, outgassing of materials used in food
packaging, furniture and construction (like styrebe, particle board, carpet,
etc.), additives in our food and environmental pollution also play measurable
roles in cancer causation.
impact of exposure to any hazardous substance depends on: the dose, the
duration, how you are exposed, whether other toxins or catalysts are present,
counteracting agents (such as antioxidants and detoxifiers), protection
(partially-effective masks, filters, gloves, suits, condoms), obesity, age,
personal genetic characteristics, individual metabolic processes, and many
different lifestyle habits.
Do Antioxidants Prevent Cancer? The U.S. National
Institutes of Health / National Cancer Institute (NIH / NCI) unambiguously and
clearly states that ANTIOXIDANTS CAN PREVENT CANCER: http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/antioxidants
IMPROVEMENTS CAN GREATLY REDUCE THE RISK OF MOST FORMS OF CANCER, DELAY ITS ONSET, REDUCE ITS SPREAD, AND IN
SOME CASES REDUCE EXISTING CANCERS (depending on their type and how far they
have progressed). Some widely abused medical treatments for cancer (like
radiation and chemotherapy) WEAKEN THE IMMUNE SYSTEMS and DIRECTLY CAUSE NEW
DNA MUTATION CANCER. (See Iatrogenic)
IT IS FAR
BETTER TO AVOID THE MANY KNOWN RISK FACTORS FOR CANCER, than to try to treat
cancer after you have it by using modern, barbaric, cancer-producing cancer
treatments, as prescribed by the world’s foremost board-certain cancer
Quick Summary: According to the American Cancer Society:
Important Cancer Prevention Details For Everyone To Understand
the most preventable cause of death in our society:
Cancer Society on smoking
Quit Smoking With Help
From The #1 U.S. Respiratory Center
The U.S. Surgeon
General’s Report stated: "Cigarette smoking is the major single cause
of cancer mortality in the United States."
In recent decades,
the percent of American adult smoker has dropped from 45% to 22%, as older
smokers die early painful deaths and the number of new young smokers decreases,
BUT we still need to work MUCH harder to prevent the growth of new smokers and
to reverse this high risk behavior in existing smokers.
The direct link
between smoking and multiple forms of cancer (lung, breast, etc.) is now
irrefutable, despite decades of false denials by the tobacco industry. On July
23, 1997, the outrageously corrupt U.S. Senate voted 53 to 47 against an
amendment (No. 965) offered by Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) to end crop
subsidies for tobacco, and the following day, the equally crooked U.S. House of
Representatives concurred on a 216-209 vote. The tobacco lobby is STILL
alive and influencing corrupt elected officials throughout America.
Do NOT expect your
government to protect you from bad lifestyle choices. In fact, America
subsidizes the deadly tobacco industry by charging you higher taxes to continue
the subsidy! Tax revenues are also being wasted on public health care for
people who now suffer greatly from smoking-related diseases.
Juries have awarded
many millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages against cigarette
vendors and the now-defunct Council for Tobacco Research and the Tobacco
Institute (who published false and misleading reports about tobacco safety). In
2005, the corrupt congress passed new legislation to limit class action
lawsuits. This reduces the cost of selling deadly tobacco to the weak minded
masses who still smoke, and our children who will begin to smoke in the futher.
industry has been damaged. It will continue to decline as baby boomers addicted
to smoking die off, but the residual effect is that 170,000 Americans will
still die from smoking related causes this year, due to previous serious
lifestyle choice errors and the government’s decades of tobacco subsidies
(which did deadly damage to the baby boom generation that is now approaching an
unhealthy retirement with insufficient funding for subsidized medical care).
documentation of the high risk of smoking, an estimated 22% of (non-learning,
down right stupid, no-self-control) Americans still smoke. This is a surprising
percentage, in light of all the modern programs trying to enlighten smokers and
young people about how bad it really is. Most Joyful Aging readers
are probably not aware of the 22% number, since they intelligently avoid those
who smoke, and unhealthy places that allow smoking.
The best way
to prevent lung cancer is to not smoke and to avoid being near people who do. If you smoke, you should immediately quit,
no exceptions, zero tolerance. Everyone should also avoid breathing in other
people's smoke. If you live in a backward state that still allows smoking in
the work place, you should lobby
your employer and your state legislature to mandate “no smoking in public
buildings” and “no smoking in the workplace” laws. Most states are still
NOT taking the necessary measures to protect children and adults from the
deadly effects of tobacco smoke.
If you smoke,
and you do not plan to quit immediately, then you might as well stop reading
now, because you are
too dumb to benefit from most of the Joyful Aging material. If you
feel insulted, then at least you correctly understood one thing in this
material. There is no room for “political correctness” or “tolerance of
outrageous behavior” in the issue of smoking. Inhaling the toxic
byproducts of combustion is always a bad thing to do, no matter what form it
takes (including candles, fireplaces, gas stoves, automobiles, factories,
refineries, etc). The more you are exposed to, the higher the risk of
Smoking does not
kill immediately. Smoking is accelerated death on the installment plan. Each
cigarette subtracts an average of 11 minutes from your expected longevity,
which is over ten years for most smokers. The inhaled deadly toxins are
transferred directly to your blood stream, body and brain with no form of
The death you will
die from smoking will probably be both slow and extremely painful. You will
waste a LOT of money on smoking materials. You are likely to have a long time
to regret the foolishness of smoking, especially since the majority of
Americans now have such negative feelings about stupid, inconsiderate smokers.
While you are painfully dying from smoking, please make it clear to your
offspring and friends how much you deeply regret succumbing to the
profit-motivated advertising of those who encouraged you to smoke, and the
corrupt government officials who subsidized tobacco growers for so long.
Damaging the people
around you is unforgivable. Not only is smoking shortening your own life, but you
are also doing severe health damage to those closest to you. For
harming those who care about you, you should feel ashamed and make an immediate
effort to do whatever is necessary to get help to change your destructive
lifestyle. The damage you are doing is not just to their lungs, it is also to
their minds: “If daddy loved me and daddy smoked, then I should also smoke.”
behavior of smokers who actively reject the truth and damage others cannot be tolerated
for any reason, despite the love you may have for the individual. The friends
and family of smokers need to intervene, arrange help, or stay far away from
them. No excuses; no delays; take action now, or you become part of the problem
that enables destructive behavior. If not now, then when? If not you, then who?
In this one area, zero tolerance is essential.
This web site is intended
specifically for intelligent people who are willing to change bad habits
that they established without understanding the material we offer. This website
is only for those who want to improve their knowledge about nutrition, exercise
and positive mental activity.
smoking, intelligent people who care about the health of their families should investigate
the hundreds of cancer-causing chemicals that you may be exposed to at work
and home, and take appropriate protective measures to reduce the risk of
The Carcinogens Around You
with the allergens, toxins and known carcinogens
in your pesticides, paint, plastics (like carpet), household cleaners,
cosmetics, hair spray, perfume, spray cooking oils, and even your solid food
(as documented on multiple pages on Joyful Aging and elsewhere).
Did you know that our government even lists inhaled “saw dust” as a known
environmental toxins are inhaled (like cigarette smoke) and directly enter our
blood stream and sensitive brain tissue with little or no type of filtration or
detoxification. Do not use any spray products near your face
(except medical inhalers), especially in confined areas (like a bathroom). If
you do, take a deep breath before spraying, and exit the room immediately while
exhaling slowly until you get to fresh air.
Many spray products
contain toxins that are heavier or lighter than air. They will dissipate in
time, but they are most dangerous to our lungs immediately after they are
sprayed. A facemask may help a little, but only expensive masks are very
effective on fine vapors. If you notice an odor after spraying a product, it
may be cumulatively very hazardous to your lungs or brain after multiple uses.
If you live in any
of the many geographical areas where the soil releases radon gas (including
many homes with basements), consider testing radon levels in your home and
taking appropriate action (either move or fix the problem, which can be very
expensive). Radon significantly increases the risk of lung cancer, as does
Increases The Statistical Risk Of Many Types Of Cancer:
- Multiple Myeloma
- Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
Your individual statistical
risk factor for cancer has been clearly demonstrated to increase in direct
proportion to your “body mass index” (weight-to-height ratio). Obesity
increases the risk of all cancers by 52% in men, 62% in women. The Department
of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research of the American Cancer Society found
that there are nearly 100,000
obesity-related U.S. cancer deaths / year. Weight loss through good
nutrition and exercise can significantly reduce the risk of many cancers.
Exercise enhances the immune system, circulates antioxidants, encourages
healthy tissue growth, etc.
Alcohol Is An
Established Cause Of Cancers Of The:
- Larynx (vocal cords)
- Pharynx (throat)
Alcohol May Also
Increase The Risk Of Colon Cancer.
reduces your risk of cancer, as does losing weight, stopping smoking, etc. Risk
factors are additive and cumulative. Two or more cancer risk factors
(like inherited genetics, smoking, alcohol, weight, sun exposure, inactivity or
poor nutrition) can combine to greatly increase the likelihood of death by
cancer. For example, a long-term overweight, sedentary, smoking, drinking
person who spends a lot of time in the sun has a very high risk of eventually
contracting and succumbing to multiple types of cancer.
Physically Active Lifestyle:
Adults: Engage in
at least moderate activity for 30 minutes or more on 5 or more days a week; 90
minutes or more of moderate to vigorous activity on 5 or more days per week may
further reduce the risk of breast, colon and other forms of cancer.
inexpensive, unobtrusive “pedometer” (step meter) and gradually increase the
number of steps you take each day. Obtain pedometers for everyone in your
family and discuss daily results. Keep a record of every family member’s
physical activity and establish lifetime habits of “fun” healthy exercise.
(See Joyful Dancing) Document and acknowledge
the connection between low physical activity and health problems from obesity
to poor cardiovascular function, immune system function, cancer, etc.
ways to break sedentary lifestyle habits learned in the classroom, and in front
of the television, video games, Internet, work, sit-down hobbies, etc. Spread
physical activity evenly throughout the week, not just on weekends.
adolescents: Engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical
activity for at least 5 days per week.
Exercise and Leisure
Walking, dancing, leisurely bicycling, ice-skating or
roller-skating, horseback riding, canoeing, yoga
Jogging or running, fast bicycling, circuit weight training,
aerobic dance, martial arts, jump rope, swimming
Volleyball, golfing, softball, baseball, badminton, doubles
tennis, downhill skiing
Soccer, field hockey or ice hockey, lacrosse, singles tennis,
racquetball, basketball, cross-country skiing
Mowing the lawn, general lawn and garden maintenance
Digging, carrying and hauling, masonry, carpentry
Walking and lifting as part of the job (custodial work, farming,
auto or machine repair)
Heavy manual labor (forestry, construction, fire fighting)
Helpful Ways To
Be More Active and Reduce The Risk Of Cancer:
- Use stairs rather than an elevator.
- When you can, walk or bike to your
- Exercise at lunch with your workmates,
family, or friends.
- Take a 10-minute exercise break at work
to stretch and take a quick walk.
- Walk to visit co-workers instead of
sending an email.
- Go dancing regularly with your spouse
- Plan active vacations rather than only
- Wear a pedometer every day and watch
your daily steps increase.
- Join a sports team or exercise.
- Use an exercise machine while watching
- Plan your exercise routine to gradually
increase the days per week, minutes per day, steps, etc.
The Best Way
To Lower The Risk Of Melanoma (Skin Cancer) Is To Avoid Too Much Exposure To
The Sun And Other Sources Of Harmful Radiation:
- Avoid being outdoors in sunlight too
long, especially in the middle of the day when dangerous ultraviolet (UV)
light is the most intense. Maximum exposure time depends on various
factors such as latitude (distance from the equator), time of day, season,
clouds/shade, clothing, angle relative to the sun, and skin type (all skin
types eventually burn, but at slightly different rates). All UV
exposure accelerates aging of the skin. Too much causes permanent
damage. In some cases, more than 20 minutes per day may be unhealthy.
- Avoid other sources of UV light such as
tanning beds and sun lamps. A light-skin person with a dark tan is
- Protect your skin with clothing,
including a shirt and a hat with a broad brim. Be aware that many forms of
cloth (like common T-shirts) do little to block UV radiation.
- Use sunscreen outdoors. The sunscreen
should have an SPF factor of 15 or more. Apply it correctly. It is
particularly important on surfaces that are perpendicular to the sun, such
as the nose, top of ears, shoulders, knees while sitting in shorts, etc.
Remember the knees of children in strollers.
- Many people do not use enough sunscreen
- a palmful is recommended when wearing swimsuits. It should be reapplied
every two hours. Water, perspiration, etc. can dilute most types of
sunscreen and make them ineffective.
- Use sunscreen even on hazy days or days
with light or broken cloud cover. Don't stay out in the sun longer just
because you're using sunscreen. (Skin cancer has increased since the
introduction of sunscreen, due in part to a false sense of safety.)
- Wear sunglasses. Wrap-around sunglasses
with 99%-100% UV absorption give the best protection. UV cannot pass
through glass, but many plastics require special UV coatings.
- Be especially careful about sun
protection for children, babies knees in strollers, tops of feet, etc. It
may be 12 hours after a bad sunburn before the damage become apparent.
People who suffer severe, blistering sunburns, particularly in childhood
or teenage years, are at increased risk of melanoma. A sunburn will fade,
but damage to deeper layers of skin remains and can eventually cause
cancer. Sun-safe habits should begin in childhood and last a lifetime.
People from Northern climates should be especially careful when
vacationing closer to the equator.
- Check suspicious moles with your doctor
and have them removed if indicated.
The American Cancer
Society recommends a monthly skin self-exam (see “How to Examine Your Skin” and
“The ABCD Rule” below) AND a cancer-related check-up, including skin
examination, every 3 years between ages 20 and 40 years and annually for those
40 and older.
How to Examine Your Skin for
Get familiar with
your skin and your own pattern of moles, freckles, blemishes, and birthmarks. Check
your skin monthly, and be alert to changes in the number, size, shape, or color
of spots on your skin or sores that do not heal. The best time to do this
simple exam is after a bath or shower. Use a full-length and a hand mirror so
you can check your skin from head to toe, noting anything new.
Face the mirror:
Check your face,
ears, neck, chest, and belly.
Check both sides of
your arms and the tops and palms of your hands.
Check the front of
your thighs, shins, tops of your feet, and in between your toes.
Now look at the
bottom of your feet, your calves, and the backs of your thighs – first one leg,
then the other. (You will need a hand mirror for the backs of your thighs.)
Use the hand mirror
to check the buttocks, lower back, upper back, and the back of the neck. (It
may be helpful to look at your back in a wall mirror by using a hand mirror.)
If you do the exam
regularly, you will know what is normal for you and can feel confident.
Remember the warning signs and check with your health care professional or
dermatologist if you find something.
The most common
skin cancers – basal cell and squamous cell – often take the form of a pale,
wax-like, pearly nodule, a red scaly, sharply outlined patch, or a sore that
does not heal. Another form of skin cancer – melanoma – often starts as a
small, mole-like growth.
The ABCD Rule for Early
Detection of Melanoma
Almost everyone has
moles. The vast majority of moles are perfectly harmless. A change in a mole’s
appearance is a sign that you should see your doctor. Here’s the simple ABCD
rule to help you remember the important signs of melanoma and other skin
A is for
ASYMMETRY: One-half of a
mole or birthmark does not match the other.
B is for BORDER: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched,
C is for COLOR The color is not the same all over, but may
have differing shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of red, white,
D is for
DIAMETER: The area is larger
than 6 millimeters (about ¼ inch - the size of a pencil eraser) or is growing
important warning sign for skin cancer is a spot on the skin that is changing
in size, shape, or color over a period of one month to one or two years.
Other warning signs
are: A sore that does not heal. A new growth. Spread of pigment from the border
of a spot to surrounding skin. Redness or a new swelling beyond the border.
Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, or pain. Change in the surface of a
mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule.
and early cancer detection increase your chance of avoiding, eliminating or
limiting its growth, spread and damage. Age decreases your ability to defend
against cancer. Antioxidants can improve your ability to defend against cancer.
National Toxicology Program of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental
Health Sciences (NIEHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH) publishes a list
of know cancer causing agents (human carcinogens). The list also includes broad
spectrum ultraviolet radiation (UVR) as a known cause of cancer in humans,
whether generated by the sun or by artificial sources; wood dust created in
cutting and shaping wood; prescription steroidal estrogen replacement therapy
hormones; PCBs; PBBs.
Many of the cryptic scientific names on
the government’s list of known toxic carcinogens are actually found in many of
our common household and industrial applications (in our clothes, sizing,
carpets, furniture, cleaning products, insecticides, insulation, building
materials, paints, protective coatings, plastics, processed foods, food
packaging, paper, cardboard, prescription medicines, cosmetics, perfumes, hair
care products, resins, automotive parts, solvents, adhesives, industrial
processes, air/water pollution, filters, second hand smoke, products containing
For those who take the time to seek the
truth about the surroundings that we take for granted, there is a lot of
alarming government-published material that is readily available for you to
study (if you want to avoid cancer and many other diseases that are directly
caused by our pervasive, human-produced, environmental toxins). Most people who
contract devastating cancer, simply did NOT take the time to understand modern
cancer risk information, or they lazily (or recklessly) chose to ignore it.
For example, some carcinogens (like
brominated fire retardants (BFRs) called poly-brominated diphenyl ethers, or
PBDEs) are used extensively in our homes and in the clothing that most
Americans wear. In recent decades, natural products such as cotton and wood
have been replaced by highly flammable synthetic fabrics and plastics in
consumer products. Consumer advocates (like Ralph Nader and many others) have
lobbied actively to add fire retardants to our clothing, household and office
products. (In a similar
effort Nader lobbied for air bags, which ripped the head off of many children,
until we learned how to make-and-use them safer.)
The unwise rush of some uninformed
consumer advocates to surround Americans with flame retardants, caused
Americans to now have much higher levels of known carcinogens in our bodies
than other industrialized nations in Europe (which wisely bans the use of
PBDEs) and elsewhere.
The average level of harmful bromine-based fire retardants in
the milk of American first-time mothers was 75 times greater than the average
amount found in recent European studies. Milk from some study participants contained the highest levels of
fire retardants ever reported in the United States, and milk from several of
the mothers in EWG's study had among the highest levels of these chemicals yet
detected anywhere in the world, suggesting that the problem in America is
These results confirm recently published
findings from University of Texas researchers, and other U.S. studies, that American babies are exposed to far higher amounts of these these
dangerous toxins than babies in Europe, where many of these chemicals have already been banned. In the United
States, only California and Maine have acted to restrict the use of PBDEs, but
such state restrictions are far too little, far too late.
Today, PBDEs are used in American:
textiles, fabrics, carpets, padding, drapes, foam padding for mattresses,
furniture and seating for home and office, cars, trucks, airplanes and trains,
insulation (thermal and sound dampening), paints and lacquers, imitation wood,
packaging materials, plastic appliances, coffee makers, food processors,
blenders, computers, televisions, smoke detectors, circuit boards, hair dryers,
curling irons, office machines, copy machines, fax machines, printers, plastic
car/truck/plane parts, lighting panels, PVC plumbing (water and sewer), pipe
insulation (air conditioning, hot water, etc.), wire insulation, cable
sheathing, electrical connectors, fuses, housings, boxes and switches, lamp
sockets, waste-water pipes, underground junction boxes, industrial and airport
conveyor belts, rubber cables.
In essence, it is almost impossible to
go anywhere in America without encountering large amounts of these potential
carcinogens. Some estimates suggest that PBDEs are in
up to thirty percent of the weight of all American products.
During manufacturing, PBDEs are
inexpensively “mixed” into the otherwise flammable plastic, instead of being
“chemically bound” to the material, as some other fire retardants are. This
means that PBDEs are much more likely to leach
out into the human environment through direct skin contact, air, water and food
supplies. This is
irrefutably documented in the recent EWG (and other) studies of American
PBDEs are the chemical cousins of
dangerous PCBs (poly-chlorinated biphenyl, which are banned human carcinogens).
Chlorine and Bromine are chemically similar. PCBs and PBDEs are both families
of highly-persistent, bio-accumulative human toxins that build up in our
tissues and organs over time.
PCBs came to the attention of health officials
only after millions of pounds had been released into the environment. In the 26
years since PCBs were banned, numerous studies have documented permanent,
neurological impairment to children from low-level PCB exposure. We now know
that PBDEs are similar.
Recent evidence suggests PBDEs and PCBs work together to amplify their adverse health
effects. Not only do
PBDEs appear to be acting through the same pathways as PCBs, but also, exposure
to a combination of PCBs and PBDEs appears to affect motor and learning skills
of lab animals ten times more strongly than exposure to either chemical alone.
In addition to the long-term cancer-causing
impact, residual environmental PCBs from
decades ago, plus the more-recent introduction of pervasive, ubiquitous PBDEs
are probably causing incremental neurological impairment (“dumbing down”) of
nearly all of our American children in varying degrees. This is especially
critical while the extremely complex and sensitive central nervous system is
being formed in the womb and shortly after birth, while the infant’s brain is
first making sense out of sensory input and motor control.
The PCB / PBDE concerns are not just about
causing cancer, they are about damage to the young minds and potential level of
intelligence of multiple generations of arguably less-competitive American
children. Some observers now suspect that incremental, accumulative,
neurological damage during critical development periods (and many other
reasons) can be linked in part to lower American student test scores. Although
there are countless possible causal sources, many parents of children born
since the 1980s have been disappointed with the scholastic performance of their
offspring, and there is clinical evidence that the rapidly-expanding use of pervasive
PBDEs are at least a small contributing factor. With some products (like
Thalidomide) we can learn the devastating impact in a matter of months and take
regulatory action within a few years of consistent examples. With carcinogens,
those same lessons take astute observers Like the German government) decades to
understand, and laggards like corrupt American legislators (who are controlled
by biased lobbyists) and our inept regulatory agencies much longer to act upon
IF America immediately banned PBDEs, (as more
thoughtful modern nations have already done), the effects of millions of pounds
of residual PCBs, plus far more of the current PBDEs, have already permanently
impacted the minds and bodies of million of American children, and will
continue to do so for multiple future generations. The longer we wait, the
harder that this fully preventable problem will be to solve.
Clinical Studies Of The Damage Now Being Done By Pervasive
The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org ) has been intelligently studying
PBDEs and cautioning against their use for years. In their study published Sept
23, 2003, (http://www.ewg.org/reports/mothersmilk/
) EWG documented very-high PBDE levels in the breast milk of nursing mothers,
in stark contrast to the much lower PBDE levels in European mothers.
A growing body of research in laboratory
animals has linked PBDE exposure to an array of adverse health effects
including thyroid hormone disruption, permanent learning and memory impairment,
behavioral changes, hearing deficits, delayed puberty onset, decreased sperm
count, fetal malformations and, possibly, cancer. Research in animals shows
that exposure to brominated fire retardants in-utero or during infancy leads to
more significant harm than exposure during adulthood, and that this damage
occurs at much lower levels of exposure. Some of these studies have found toxic
effects at levels much lower than are now detected in all tested nursing
Many questions remain, but new evidence
raises concerns that low levels of PBDE exposure pose a significant health risk
to developing animals, and may pose a health risk to human fetuses, infants and
children at levels less than currently measured in all tested American women.
The indication that PBDEs can cause subtle
neurological defects in developing animals reinforces what researchers have
learned over the past 30 years about the structurally similar, but much better
studied, PCBs. Used primarily as electrical insulators, PCBs were found to be
rapidly building up in people and animals before they were banned in 1977.
Although levels are now declining, PCBs persist in the environment and cause a
number of well-documented health problems. PBDEs are now far more pervasive
than PCBs ever were, especially in products that we physically contact every
night and day.
Many of the known health effects of PBDEs are
thought to stem from their ability to disrupt the body's thyroid hormone balance,
by depressing levels of the T3 and T4 hormones, which are important to normal
metabolism. In adults, hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, depression, anxiety,
unexplained weight gain (an American epidemic), hair loss and low libido.
Hypothyroidism can lead to more serious
problems if left untreated, but the consequences of depressed thyroid hormone
levels on developing fetuses and infants can be devastating. One study found
that women whose levels of T4 measured in the lowest 10 percent
of the population during the first trimester of pregnancy were more than 2.5
times as likely to have a child with an IQ of less than 85 (in the lowest
20 percent of the range of IQs) and five times as likely to have a child
with an IQ of less than 70, meeting the diagnosis of "mild retardation." An IQ less than 85 can be associated with
serious consequences. Two-thirds of children who drop out of high school have
IQs below 85. (IQ 100 is “average intelligence.”)
Even short-term exposures to commercial
PBDE mixtures can alter thyroid hormone levels in animals, and the effects are
even more profound in fetuses and young animals than in adults. These results
are ominous as data in humans indicate that pregnancy itself stresses the
thyroid, and developing fetuses and infants do not have the thyroid hormone
reserves adults do to help buffer insults to the system.
Most studies on thyroid hormone
disruption by PBDEs have been short-term, with exposures of only 14 days or
less. One study found higher rates of hypothyroidism among workers exposed to
long-term brominated fire retardants on the job.
The real question that skeptics are asking is
how low exposure of PBDEs over the long term affects the body's thyroid hormone
balance. The answer is very important,
because the entire U.S. population is continually exposed to low levels of
PBDEs. The studies of other thyroid hormone disrupters have found that
long-term exposures can cause more serious harm at lower levels of exposure.
The duration of exposure may be more significant than the level of exposure
(which are also rapidly increasing in America).
Because the developing brain is known to be
extremely sensitive to even mild neurotoxins, researchers have begun to examine
whether short-term exposures to PBDEs at critical times could have long-term
effects. The results are alarming: small doses
of PBDEs administered to fetal or newborn mice and rats caused deficits in
learning ability, memory and hearing, changes in behavior, and delays in
sensory-motor development. Many of
these effects were found to worsen with age, long after PBDE exposure was
Permanent Damage With Only One Exposure
Experiments have shown that just one dose of
PBDEs at a critical point in brain development can cause lasting brain defects.
In two different studies, a small dose (0.8 milligrams per kilogram of body weight
per day), given to 10-day-old mice caused
"deranged spontaneous behavior," significant deficits in learning and
memory and reduced ability to adapt to new environments, with these problems often
becoming more pronounced with age.
This research also demonstrated the
heightened sensitivity of the mammalian brain at certain critical phases of
development. Earlier exposures caused
"significantly impaired spontaneous motor behavior" and
"persistent neurotoxic effects."
These animal studies do not state that all
learning and attention deficits are caused by PBDEs, but they do support
speculation that recent increases in environmental toxins like PCBs, PBBs and
PBDEs are cumulative contributions to the current trend of the dumbing down of
Other animal studies have shown that
early-life exposures to PBDEs, often at relatively low levels, can lead to
delays in sensory-motor development, hearing deficits, as well as changes in
activity levels and fear responses. At this point, scientists do not understand
exactly how PBDEs affect neurological development. But there is evidence that
PBDEs (or their various metabolic byproducts) are acting through several
different mechanisms, including mimicking thyroid hormones, increasing the rate
of hormone clearance in the body, and interfering with essential intracellular
body function communication.
In addition to their impact on thyroid
hormones and neurological development, PBDEs have been linked to a gamut of
other health impacts in laboratory animals, ranging from subtle to dramatic.
For example, several new studies found that early-life exposure to PBDEs has
significant reproductive effects including decreasing the weight of male rat
reproductive organs. In studies of pregnant animals, PBDE exposure was
associated with enlarged livers and raised serum cholesterol. In-utero
exposures have also been associated with serious harm to the fetus, including
limb and ureter (urine duct) malformation, enlarged hearts, bent ribs, fused
stemebrae and delayed bone hardening. The malformations of the fetus were
consistently seen at levels much lower than doses harmful to the mouse mothers,
the lowest being 2 and 5 mg/kg-day, respectively. But more subtle reproductive
effects, such as decreased sperm count and changes in the sub-cellular
structure of the ovaries, were seen at incredibly low doses - just 0.06
mg/kg-day. Different individuals react to exposure in varying degrees and
diverse ways, suggesting that some are genetically predisposed to be more
resistant or susceptible.
The few studies that have looked at
changes in organ structure have found that semi-chronic PBDE exposure can cause
thyroid hyperplasia (overgrowth of thyroid tissue) and enlarged livers at
relatively low doses (10 mg/kg-day) and other adverse effects such as abnormal
cell functioning, localized cell death and deformation in the kidney, changes
in the liver's cellular structure, decreased hemoglobin and red blood cell
counts at higher doses.
Only one commercial PBDE mixture has
been clinically tested for its ability to cause cancer, in a single study more
than 15 years ago. One form of PBDE (deca-BDE) that was given to rats and mice
caused malignant liver, thyroid and pancreas tumors. This form is the least
easily absorbed and the most rapidly eliminated of the PBDEs. Recent research
indicates that other similar PBDEs can cause genetic recombination in cells,
which raises more concern about the risk of cancer introduced by PBDEs. As a
result, scientists believe that the congeners with fewer bromines are likely to
be far more carcinogenic than the form that was studied 15 years ago. These
scientists have strongly urged that such tests be conducted, but despite all of
the large body of evidence, funding has not been made available and
unbelievably, unlike Europe, American
has failed to ban the use of PBDEs (as was done long ago with PCBs and PBBs).
use of PBDEs has skyrocketed in the last three decades, with the most widely used forms nearly
doubling between 1992 and 2001. The market for PBDEs exploded after the 1978
ban of a related class of brominated fire retardants called poly-brominated
biphenyls (PBBs). Once widely used as fire retardants, PBBs were banned
following the detection of contaminated cattle feed in Michigan during 1973 and
1974 that exposed 9 million people to tainted meat and dairy products. Although
there was clear evidence that brominated flame retardants were problematic,
American manufacturers rushed to use the un-banned, un-tested PBDEs to meet
their mandated flame retardant requirements, without responsibly investigating
the long-term impact of this foolish profit-motivated behavior.
Today, half of the PBDEs used worldwide
are in the Americas, with 73 million pounds introduced into our products in
2001 alone. Led by U.S. and Canada, we use 95 percent of the global supply of
one type of PBDE, which is the form most easily taken up by animals and people.
An unknown amount of PBDEs, probably millions of pounds, is also imported into
the country each year in goods manufactured outside of America (to our flame
Only eight companies manufacture PBDEs
worldwide, with the largest in the U.S.: Great Lakes Chemical and Albemarle. In 2002, Great Lakes reported
total sales for all products of $1.4 billion, up 4% from the previous year.
Albermarle reported sales of $980 million, up 7%. These corporations are
already notorious as the manufacturers of methyl bromide, a volatile, acutely
toxic, ozone-depleting pesticide gas used to fumigate strawberries, tomatoes
and other crops. Albemarle also has the dubious distinction of being a spin-off
of Ethyl Corp., whose leaded gasoline additive was banned in the U.S. in 1972.
America’s Failure to Protect Our Children With Common Sense
Today’s evidence of PBDE contamination
in women's bodies and breast milk in the US should come as no a surprise. The
potential new millennium impact was well documented and very predictable two
decades ago, shortly after PCBs and PBBs were banned and the use of PBDEs
exploded. The evidence against PBDEs was strong enough that bans were proposed
in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands in the 1980s.
Industrial users of the chemicals agreed to
voluntarily phase them out in Germany in 1986, with the manufacturers and users
in other European countries following a few years later. Germany placed
official limits on PBDE use under its Dioxin Ordinance, because of the tendency
for PBDEs to release dangerous dioxins when burned. As concern spread to other
countries, the European Union launched a scientific review of the safety of
PBDEs, originally with respect to electronics waste. Later, the European Union
announced a ban on two common easily-absorbed PBDE mixtures in all products.
The early efforts to reduce PBDE use in
Europe are paying off. Researchers have found that PBDE levels in Swedish
breast milk rose exponentially from 1972 to 1997, but since that year have
begun to decline: PBDE levels in Swedish women dropped about 30 percent between
1997 and 2001. These results are encouraging for Europeans, but frustrating for
American parents and those who hope to product healthy children in the future.
The European studies demonstrate that IF even
partial protections are enacted, and PBDE use ceases or declines, the human
body burden of PBDEs will also decrease after a lag-time of several years or
more. However, given the massive amount of PBDEs in U.S. homes, and the much
higher levels than in European women, PBDE body burdens in Americans might take
decades to decline significantly. All American
children born from the 1980’s, until at least a decade after PBDE bans are
eventually put in place, are at risk for the documented health problems caused by
the indiscretions of the inept American government regulatory agencies and
Despite that fact that PBDE concentrations in Americans
and their environment are 75 times higher than those found in Europe, the U.S.
government has so far done nothing to counter this rapidly escalating problem - nor did it do anything to prevent it after
banning PCBs and PBBs, when even simple safety testing could have flagged the
problem in its infancy.
Like almost all industrial chemicals, the
health effects of PBDEs foolishly went virtually unstudied at the dawn of their
use in commercial products. In 1994, EPA outrageously misstated that the waste
stream from the production of (Octa and Deca) PBDEs "should not be listed
as hazardous." The only other American standard governing PBDEs is the
requirement that companies that manufacture or use large amounts of (Deca)
PBDEs report their chemical pollution under the Toxics Release Inventory.
State Action - Ineffective First Steps
State legislation was introduced in
California, Maine and Michigan in 2003 that would ban or restrict the use of
several types of PBDEs. While these bills are a welcome first step, they all
fall short of what is needed to prevent further build up of these persistent,
bio-accumulative and toxic chemicals.
A bill passed by the Maine legislature (LD
743), and signed into law in May, 2003 requires electronic manufacturers or
importers to phase out all brominated fire
retardants and several other toxic substances such as lead, mercury and polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) by 2006. But
producers can apply for exemptions if they can convince officials that there
are no feasible alternatives. Of course, the law does nothing about the
pervasive brominated fire retardants in non-electronic products. Bills that
would have banned the use of PBDEs in all products by 2006 were introduced in
Michigan during 2003 and 2002, respectively), yet have failed to progress in
The California standards, signed into law in
July 2003, ban two commercial PBDE mixtures, (Penta and Octa), but exempt the
most widely used PBDE product (Deca). This is troublesome, as numerous studies
have shown that the types of PBDEs in this commercial product can break down
into other forms that are much more bio-accumulative and bio-reactive, and
which are included in the proposed California legislation. The California law
also gives PBDE producers and users until 2008 to stop using the chemicals,
despite the fact that another 365 million pounds of PBDEs will be put into
American couches, easy chairs, cars, planes, buses and other consumer products
before the phase-out date in five years. Finally, the California law doesn't
require manufacturers to label PBDE-containing products, a provision that would
have allowed consumers to make more informed decisions, rewarded the companies
who have already shifted away from PBDEs, and provided extra incentive to
manufacturers and users to speed their conversion to new fire retardants,
materials, or design.
State legislative regulation, of commonplace products that
are being produced across the nation (and around the world for import into the
U.S.) is not at all effective. State legislative actions do combine with
European legislation to place a very bright spotlight on the obvious fact that American
federal legislation, regulative agencies and product review processes are being
administered by lazy, inept, corrupted individuals who are completely asleep at
the wheel, an unconcerned by what their inaction is continuing to do to us all,
ESPECIALLY to our children born since the 1980s.
The various forms of PBDEs
One of the major special interest
manufacturer / consumer debates about regulation of PBDEs centers on the
effects of the various forms of PBDEs. Scientists have learned that lighter
PBDE molecules with five or fewer bromine atoms are almost totally absorbed by
the body, slowly eliminated (highly bio-accumulative), and they cause
significant health effects, when mammals are exposed to relatively low levels.
In contrast, heavier PBDEs with more bromines are less readily absorbed, less
bio-accumulative, more quickly eliminated by the body, meaning that they are
found at lower levels in living creatures.
Fire retardant manufacturers have long
claimed that Deca PBDE is "very poorly absorbed," (less than 2
percent of an oral dose is absorbed) and rapidly excreted (with almost complete
excretion within 72 hours). Thus, they incorrectly stated that it would be
virtually impossible for Deca to enter women's bodies and even more unlikely
for it to pass into breast milk. Despite these un-tested optimistic assurances,
the demonstrated truth is that measurable levels of Deca were detected in
eighty percent of young mothers at levels up to 1 ppb, as well as thirty five
percent of women in Dr. Schecter's recent Texas study - at concentrations as
high as 8 ppb. The manufacturers’ misleading misinformation has been clearly
shown to be false.
Fire retardant manufacturers estimated the
concentrations in breast milk of a mother working to disassemble computer monitors.
Their biased, misleading modeling involved two incorrect speculative
(unfounded) scenarios, the "Reasonable Estimate" using
"plausible, yet conservative" assumptions and the "Upper
Estimate" using "absolute worst-case exposures."
They concluded: A "significant health
risk is not expected for children under any of the scenarios evaluated, even
using extremely conservative assumptions. Therefore, no further, more detailed
evaluation of (Deca PBDE) is warranted to ensure adequate health protection for
The industry should take a closer look at the
everyday exposures for American mothers before they falsely claim that their
product is safe. In fact, in two recent studies, EWG found levels of Deca in
young mothers who were not occupationally exposed to be 6 to 40 times higher
than the industry's misleading “absolute worst-case exposure model” for women
disassembling computers at work. They intentionally grossly underestimated the
effect of PBDE exposure (for obvious motivation), and even when proven to have
lied, have gone unpunished, and their profits continue to spiral upward.
Toxic effects of Deca PBDE
New research now indicates that the
“relatively safe” Deca PBDE is actually much more toxic than was previously
suggested. Deca has been shown to exhibit some of the same effects on newborn
rats and mice as lighter PBDEs with fewer bromines (which are easier than
heavier Deca PBDE for the body to absorb). How can this be true?
Deca PBDE can quickly degrade into PBDEs with
fewer bromines, which are more toxic and more likely to accumulate in human
beings. Numerous studies now show that when exposed to sunlight, the
higher-weight PBDEs (like Deca) can be converted to the more toxic light weight
PBDEs with fewer bromines. Many American products that contain PBDEs are
routinely exposed to the sun. This degradation in the environment has been
observed for structurally similar chemicals like the previously-banned
poly-brominated biphenyls (PBBs) and PCBs. In laboratory conditions, Deca can
degrade to 50 percent of its original mass in as little as 15 minutes, and one
study found that after five days just 6 percent of the Deca remained
The bottom line is that all chemicals in the PBDE family have
the potential to cause serious environmental and health problems - some alone, some through their breakdown
byproducts, others by interacting with other toxic chemicals, and all by
interfering with important life processes in the environment, wildlife and most
regrettably in humans, especially the young. The chemical industry, trying to
save a highly profitable product (Deca), is falsely lobbying legislators that
most PBDEs are harmless. The available evidence strongly argues against their
lies, which European countries understood and acted upon in time to prevent a
crisis like America is now having. In the real world environment, Deca degrades
into the chemicals that are banned in Europe and California. To prevent a bad
situation from getting much worse and taking much longer to correct, America
should be phase out all PBDEs, without further inept bureaucratic political
Affordable PBDE Replacements
For most uses of brominated fire retardants,
there are already cost-effective chemical replacements on the marketplace.
Aluminum trihydroxide and various phosphorous-based compounds are some of the
most common alternatives. But rather than replacing one chemical with another
that is unstudied and might also be toxic (as was done with PBBs to PBDEs), a
better long-term solution might be to redesign products so that chemical fire
retardants are not needed to meet fire safety regulations.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission
recently reported that adding fire retardants to foam offered very little
additional protection from fire: "CPSC laboratory tests have demonstrated
that the properties of actual filling materials have little or no effect on the
small open flame ignition resistance of full-scale chairs." Simply using a
barrier fabric and less flammable foam can achieve the same level of fire safety.
Similarly, increasing the density of polyurethane foam or using materials that
are naturally less flammable can eliminate the need for chemical fire
Another non-toxic tactic to prevent fire is to
control sources of fire ignition. One target is unhealthy cigarettes, which are
directly responsible for the most fatal fires. New York state blamed cigarettes
for 199 deaths from 1997 to 2001, making smoking materials the most frequent
cause of fatal blazes during that period. In response, the state passed
legislation to require that cigarettes sold by mid-2004 must be
self-extinguishing. This can be easily accomplished by wrapping the tobacco in
a heavier paper and removing the chemicals added to cigarette wrappers to
promote burning. The tobacco industry is expected to fight the legislation in
court (self-centered, death-causing, business as usual).
Trade groups and fire retardant producers
such as the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, California
Retailers Association, the American Electronics Association and Great Lakes
Chemical vigorously opposed the California PBDE. However, facing restrictions
on PBDE use in the European Union, many U.S. manufacturers moved to find
alternatives to PBDEs, even in the absence of reasonable American regulation
legislation. Computer and electronics companies such as Apple, Dell, IBM,
Motorola, Panasonic, Phillips and Sony are already producing some PBDE-free or
BFR-free products (inspired by EU legislative intelligence). Ericsson, Intel,
Phillips, Sony and Toshiba recently announced a complete ban of PBDEs in
advance of the EU regulation by 2006. IKEA and Ericsson have thoughtfully taken
additional steps toward moving away from using any halogens (bromine, chlorine,
fluorine or iodine) in their products. If America would merely require products
containing PBDE to be labeled, intelligent consumers would reward thoughtful
manufactures with more business, which would make the corrupt, inept,
foot-dragging American politicians and regulatory agencies somewhat less
frustrating than they are today.
Fire retardant manufacturers are scrambling
to find a replacement for Penta PBDE used in foam furniture padding. The
Swedish furniture giant IKEA was forced to phase out brominated fire retardants
in all its products, due to European limits on the chemical's use. They
accomplished this by changing product design, using naturally less-flammable
materials, and employing alternative fire retardants if needed. Hickory Springs
of Conover, N.C., a major polyurethane foam producer, is working with Akzo
Nobel, a chemical manufacturer, to test a non-halogenated, phosphorous-based
fire retardant. Hickory Springs says it was motivated by requests from forward
thinking companies such as IKEA, Crate & Barrel and Eddie Bauer for
No safety studies on most toxic chemicals
Several US states have taken important
steps to phase-out a handful of brominated fire retardants. This is the first
step toward protecting consumer safety, but it offers incomplete protection as
long as manufacturers are not required to test the impact of replacement
chemicals on human health, before they go into nationwide use. We can now look
back and see that the government ban on PBBs thoughtlessly CREATED the
subsequent explosion in use of PBDEs, which ultimately may cause far more
damage than PBBs did.
There is very little data on the
toxicity of the alternative fire retardants that are currently being developed
or are already in use as alternatives to PBDEs. This is largely because of
well-documented shortcomings in the America’s toxin laws, inept regulatory
agencies and our corrupt politicized legislative process. The chief regulatory
statute for commercial chemicals is the weak Toxic Substances Control Act. TSCA is internationally infamous for its
total failure to lend meaningful authority to the Environmental Protection
The rapidly expanding American PBDE crisis,
enormous predictable socio-economic health impact, and uncertainty surrounding
replacement chemicals provide another disturbing illustration of the ongoing
endless failures of the American regulatory system that allows persistent,
bio-accumulative toxins onto the marketplace before they have been adequately
tested for safety. Or worse yet, allows documented toxins into widespread use,
even after preliminary tests have documented significant risks. With PBDEs,
America is again reaping the high costs of inept regulation, in terms of health
and productivity, of this industry-favored system, with no concern for the
suffering, emotional distress and economic impact on parents, children, future
government-subsidized medical costs, and the reduced average intelligence of
multiple generations born since 1980.
Under the current system, the EPA barely
reviews new chemicals through a process that does NOT require health and safety
test data, which actually discourages voluntary testing. Companies submit only
basic biased estimated short-term toxicity data for fewer than half of all applications
for new chemicals, and the government approves 80 percent of these with no use
limits and no requests for tests to justify their profit-motivated, optimistic
Eight of 10 new chemicals win approval in
less than three weeks, at an average rate of seven a day. How many hundreds of
new PCB, PBB and PBDE-like toxins are already in the products we now use? What
long-term impacts are already unavoidable? How long until we discover the
In the early days of underground mining,
workers died when they suddenly encountered poisonous gases. Those who survived
learned to carry a canary with them into the mines. These small birds are more
sensitive to mine gases than are humans. If the canary died, miners knew to
leave the toxic environment quickly. Today, our own human children are the only
canaries that we have for sensing the toxic environment that modern humans have
foolishly created with no regard for multiple future generations. Even AFTER
more-intelligent international governments have already studied environmental
toxins and legislated against those produced by unnecessary industrial
chemicals, American politicians continue to be corrupted by the small number of
greedy firms who greatly profit by poisoning our people.
Perhaps worse, the weak American controls on
new chemicals still turn a blind eye on our old ones. When TSCA was enacted in
1976, more than 63,000 chemicals already in use were "grandfathered"
- granted blanket approval for continued use in consumer and industrial
products with absolutely no requirement for further study. Most brominated fire
retardants fell into this loophole and won implicit approval for widespread use
in consumer products with no required health and safety testing. In 1998, the
EPA and the non-profit organization Environmental Defense reviewed all of the
toxicity and environmental fate studies publicly available and found no
information - not even one single test - for forty three percent of the 2,600
chemicals that are produced in the highest volumes in the U.S. Chemical
manufacturers are unlikely to hand over any internal information that might be
damning for their chemical products, nor do they have much incentive to fill
any significant scientific data gaps that they may identify during product
development and use.
We do not have to expose our children to toxins to protect them
There is no question that fire safety is
important and that making products fire-resistant can save lives. Chemical fire
retardants have become ubiquitous over the last few decades, but a wide variety
of alternative fire safety strategies exist. Using less-flammable materials or
changing the product design so that it is inherently more fire resistant, are
chemical-free solutions. Using less toxic chemicals as fire retardants is
Need For Bio-Monitoring
The current system for bio-monitoring and
related epidemiological studies in the U.S. is completely inadequate for
identifying and tracking the multitude of chemicals Americans are accumulating
and carrying in our bodies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) has conducted two bio-monitoring studies that examined up to 116
environmental chemicals in the blood and urine of 2,500 people. But this is
just a tiny subset of the thousands of chemicals we are exposed to every day in
varying amounts in diverse locations. The news about these chemicals will
always have a lag-time of several years or decades when investigating news of
emerging contaminants of concern such as PBDEs, etc. Furthermore, the CDC study
measured only four chemicals in children younger than six years old and did not
look at any contaminants in breast milk, both of which are important for
estimating chemical exposures to these most sensitive subpopulations.
In an age where chemical industries are
releasing millions of tons of chemicals into our environment, and chemical
manufacturers gain permission to put more than 2,000 new chemicals into the
biosphere each year, America desperately needs the quantitative
feedback of a much better bio-monitoring system. Such minimal information would serve as an early warning
system for chemicals that are building up in our bodies. We could track trends
in chemical levels over time, link them more accurately to cause-and-effect
health trends, and most importantly, justify prompt regulatory action when
necessary. (But then who
would expect such information technology improvements to emerge in a country
that cannot even implement a fair way to count votes, much less eliminate
special-interest-group politician corruption – a nation where the FAA still
can’t talk to the FBI, CIA, DOD, or executive branch? In fact, most
bureaucratic government departments in the EPA, etc. can’t even communicate
with other parts of the same organization!)
EWG's tests of
mothers' milk are the latest evidence that Americans are being exposed to
potentially harmful levels of serious toxins like PBDE fire retardants. The bad
news is that trivial efforts by both American government and private industry
in the U.S. lag far behind Europe, which has already phased out some of these
toxins, and is thoughtfully studying the health impact of others.
The good news is
that European studies show that levels of fire retardants in the human body
begin to decline if exposure is reduced. This means that prompt action by
government agencies and the companies that make these chemicals can make an
important difference. To a lesser extent, personal actions can also reduce your
What should the
American government do?
The U.S. EPA
should phase out all PBDEs and other toxic fire retardants as quickly as
possible. California has already moved to ban some PBDEs in 2008, and
Massachusetts is considering a similar law. In the interim, all products
containing PBDEs should be labeled so that consumers have the option of
choosing products without them.
screen all new and existing chemicals for their health effects. In particular,
potential replacement fire retardants must be adequately tested to ensure that
they are not persistent, bio-accumulative or toxic. Testing must include the
outcomes most relevant to children's health. Changes in product design that
decrease the need for chemical fire retardants should be encouraged over simply
switching to a different, less studied chemical.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should expand the fledgling national
bio-monitoring program to include a greater number of chemicals and people. The
study provides critical data in identifying chemicals that are accumulating in
our bodies and in the environment; tracking trends in exposure; providing data
needed to more fully understand human health risks; and helping EPA and other
agencies effectively transition businesses to safer, less persistent chemicals
than those in current common use.
should increase funding for urgently needed additional research on toxic fire
retardants, including their health effects, how they get into the human body,
and current levels of accumulation in people, animals and the environment.
private industry do?
In the absence of
government regulation, U.S. manufacturers and users of chemical fire retardants
should voluntarily follow, support and comply with the European ban (which will
inevitably reach slow-moving America). Chemical companies should work to
minimize the toxicity of existing fire retardants and thoroughly test
replacement chemicals for safety now, to reduce future product liability and
eventual mandated conversion expense. Companies who use fire retardants in
their products should follow the lead of some computer makers and others, who
are redesigning their products so that harmful fire retardants are not needed.
Retailers should follow the example of IKEA and other companies in demanding
that their suppliers avoid the use of toxic chemical fire retardants that are
banned in more prudent countries.
parents and other concerned consumers do?
Our homes and
offices are already filled with brominated fire retardants in products
including foam-padded furniture, computer and television screens, and the
padding underneath our mattresses and carpets. The 2003 EWG breast milk study,
and others, have shown that exposure to brominated fire retardants is
unavoidable. EWG detected them in the body of every participant, regardless of
their occupation, diet, or lifestyle.
Even if these toxic
fire retardants were phased out immediately, our exposure to them would
continue for decades through the water we drink, foods we eat, products already
in our houses and where we work. In the absence of intelligent government
safeguards to ban persistent toxins from household products, or label products
containing the most toxic forms of fire retardants, parents should consider the
or crumbing foam padding that might contain fire retardants. Replace or cover
couches, stuffed chairs, automobile seats that have exposed foam. Reupholster
padded furniture in homes where children or pregnant women live.
when removing and replacing the foam padding beneath your carpet. Remove old
carpet padding from your home and clean up well when finished.
with natural fibers (cotton and wool), which are naturally more fire resistant.
persistent pollutants, some of which have been banned for decades, still
contaminate the environment and end up in the food we eat, the water we drink,
and the air we breathe. Recently, EWG has reported on the presence of toxic
chemicals in a wide range of consumer products including foam-padded furniture,
food wrappers and wintertime lettuce. In the case of toxic fire retardants,
chemical companies have fought proposals that they label their products to give
consumers information about the chemicals in consumer products.
Yet exposures to
many persistent pollutants CAN be reduced through a varied diet that contains
fewer meat and high fat dairy products (which accumulate PBDEs. Other chemical
exposures, like toxic substances in household cleaners, can be avoided
altogether. It is especially important for children, pregnant or breast feeding
mothers or women considering pregnancy to avoid chemical exposures. Some simple
tips for reducing exposures to, or impacts of, industrial chemicals are:
your child! Breastfeeding offers significant health benefits to both mother and
infant. In addition, breast milk contains beneficial compounds such as Omega-3
fatty acids that are not found in infant formula and support optimal infant
development, particularly for body systems most affected by PCBs, lead, and
other toxic chemicals.
processed foods, which often contain chemical additives.
produce. It's free of pesticides and preservative chemicals.
microwave food in plastic containers. Use glass or ceramics.
Run your tap
water through a home filter before drinking. Filters can reduce levels of
common tap water pollutants.
Eat fewer meat
and high fat dairy products, which contain higher levels of some pollutants.
number of cosmetics and other personal care products you use, which can contain
harmful chemicals and can be sold with no safety testing.
stain repellants on clothing, bedding or upholstery.
number of household cleaners you use. Try soap and water first.
gasoline-powered yard tools — use manual or electric tools instead.
breathing gasoline fumes when you're filling your car.
known to be low in PCB and mercury contamination, including wild Alaska salmon
and canned salmon. Avoid canned tuna — it contains mercury.
How much toxic poison should you be exposed to?
- How many times should you pull the trigger in a game of
Increased time-and-amount of carcinogen exposure normally
increases your risk of activating cancer-generating processes.
Carcinogen-exposure-related risks may be added to other known cancer risk
factors, such as: inherited genetic tendencies, skin type, body fat, lifestyle
choices, nutrition, exercise, etc. Some lifestyle choices, such as good
nutrition (antioxidants, etc.), exercise, mental activity and attitude, may
help mitigate some of the carcinogen-exposure risk factors (but cannot
eliminate all risk of cancer).
Understanding your personal risk factors, lifestyle
behavior modifications, and early detection of new cancer can often diminish
the potential impact of otherwise uncontrolled cancer growth. Medical research
scientists have been working for many decades to discover cancer treatments. In
some cases, the expensive treatments themselves have caused great pain,
suffering, emotional distress, accelerated aging and even doctor-induced (iatrogenic) death. It is far better to reduce the
risk, and thus prevent, cancer, than to try to cure “metastasized” (wide
spread) growing cancer after it is established.
One significant problem in carcinogen exposure education is
that there is normally a long cause-and-effect time lag between carcinogen
exposure and the first detection of the growth of a new cancer. For example, a
single severe sunburn as a child can trigger skin cancer decades later. Alcohol
consumption can take decades to trigger breast cancer and many other diseases.
Some people can smoke for decades before they are ravaged by lung cancer and
For these reasons, education about the negative impact of
carcinogen exposure (and other health lifestyle choices) should be taught by
health professionals and by caring parents to their children at an early age,
and then practiced consistently for our entire lifetime. One analogy is that
avoiding excess sunlight may be as important for some as wearing a seat belt.
If parents allow their children to ride in a car without a seat belt, or get a
severe sunburn, the parents are doing a great disservice and increasing long
term health risks for the ones that they love. The solution begins with the
acquisition of essential knowledge.
How Pervasive Are Known Carcinogens?
The above material discusses some significant environmental
cancer causing agents. The following paragraphs introduce “styrene,” which is a
less significant carcinogen, BUT styrene is pervasive – we are exposed to
styrene almost everywhere we go. For some people, the cumulative damage of
long-term low-level exposure may add up to deadly cancer.
Joyful Aging introduces this topic to show how
very uninformed most Americans are about the chemicals in our everyday man-made
environment, which constantly cause many health problems that are difficult to
trace back to their original source. Joyful Aging does not
recommend that you attempt to completely avoid pervasive styrene (that may be
nearly impossible to do in America), but we are suggesting that you at least be
aware that the chemicals that we are exposed to everyday, may play at least a
minor role in the cause-and-effect of many modern medical problems.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms,
styrene may be one of many different possible sources. If you are attempting to
get pregnant, carrying a child, nursing or raising a child, you may wish to
become better informed about possible heath impacts.
What is styrene?
Styrene is primarily a synthetic chemical. Billions
of pounds are produced each year to make products such as many food containers,
plastic packaging, carpet backing, home-and-office insulation, rubber,
fiberglass, pipes and automobile parts. Most of these products contain styrene
linked together in a long chain (polystyrene), along with unlinked
styrene. Styrene enters the environment during its manufacture, use, and
disposal of billions of pounds. Pervasive styrene is in our air, water, food
and soil. Most of us breathe it, drink it, eat it and touch it everyday.
Styrene is a colorless liquid that evaporates easily and has
a pleasant, sweet smell. It often contains other chemicals, which may give
it a sharp “plastic” smell. Styrene is a corrosive chemical that reacts
vigorously with compounds having a labile hydrogen (including water) in the
presence of catalysts such as acids, bases and certain salts.
How are we exposed to styrene?
food or drinking water contaminated by common packaging or chemical
pollution. Food packaging traps the styrene gas in the food.
air that is contaminated with styrene vapors from plastics, building materials,
carpet, automobile parts and consumer products. When carpets, cars, etc.
are new they release more styrene vapor than when they are old. The
exception may be when they are warmed by the sun, etc. The “new” smell may
be unhealthy, especially when it is trapped and concentrated behind
contaminated workplace air (industrial processes or building materials).
near industrial facilities or waste sites. Making or burning styrene
releases it into the air. AVOID BEING CLOSE TO BURNING PLASTIC.
Atmospheric styrene is then carried around the world by the wind and rain
to most water supplies and soil. Unlike some carcinogens, styrene is
biodegradable, so the contamination would decrease over time, IF we were
not adding billions of pounds of it every year. In some locations, styrene
contamination continues to increase rapidly.
How does styrene affect our health?
People who breathe high levels of styrene, are likely to
experience nervous system effects such as depression, concentration
problems, muscle weakness, tiredness, and nausea, which can be difficult to
explain, since styrene has not have an offensive smell. High levels of styrene
vapor can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. If you suspect that
you are being exposed to high levels of styrene, consider an alternative
lifestyle. Avoid hot food and drinks served in styrene (e.g., Styrofoamtm),
ESPECIALLY acidic products: lemon, citric acid, carbonic acid (fizzy drinks),
meats, tomato, etc.
Urine and blood tests are available for level of styrene
exposure. Test results drop rapidly after the styrene exposure source is
removed, suggesting a rapid reduction in subsequent styrene- related health
risks, cancer, etc.
Animal studies show that ingestion of high levels of styrene
over several weeks causes measurable damage to the liver, kidneys, brain,
and lungs. Damage to the liver greatly accelerates aging and causes serious
medical problems throughout the body (leading to an untimely death). When
animals breathed styrene vapors in short-term studies, the lining of the
nose was quickly damaged. Styrene applied to the skin of rabbits,
causes obvious irritation.
There has been little funding available for public health
studies on the human health impact of long-term exposure to styrene. The myopic
assumption seems to be: “Styrene is everywhere, therefore it must not me
There is little information on human health impact from
eating, drinking, breathing or touching styrene. In animal studies, short-term
exposure to styrene resulted in reproductive and developmental effects,
but this alarming information failed to motivate human studies about how
extensively styrene exposure affects human reproduction and fetal development.
Would YOU like to participate is such a study?
How likely is styrene to cause cancer? The International
Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has determined that styrene is probably
carcinogenic to humans. Most humans are very bad at understanding
cause-and-effect that takes place over decades. How many people who have liver,
kidney, brain or lung problems have considered the scientific fact that styrene
has been unambiguously shown in clinical laboratory test to do similar damage
in multiple animal studies? This certainly is NOT understood by hundred of
millions of Americans who buy and use mountains of styrene products.
Human tissues prefer to be alkaline as a defense against
many diseases. Things that make tissues acidic increase the risk of cancer.
Workers exposed to styrene vapors excrete large amounts of mandelic
acid and phenylglyoxylic acid in their urine. DNA and albumin adducts were
found in the blood of plastics workers exposed to styrene (Fustinoni et al.
1998). Damage to DNA is precisely what initiates the growth of cancer. Covalent
binding of styrene to DNA was observed in the stomachs of rats given styrene
orally (Cantoreggi and Lutz 1993). This is what happens to at least a small
degree when you consume products packaged or served in styrene. The risk
factors increase with quantity and duration of exposure.
There has been little funding for studies on the
carcinogenicity of styrene in humans, but more extensive studies in animals
that breathe or eat styrene show that it increases the risk of multiple types
of cancer, through a variety of poorly understood mechanisms.
Epidemiological scientific studies of workers have shown
that breathing styrene is statistically linked to leukemia
(cancer of blood-producing tissues).
Has the federal government made recommendations to protect
us from styrene exposure? The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety
Administration (OSHA) has limited workers' exposure to an average of 100 parts
per million per 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek, but industrial exposure
monitoring is less than perfect and leukemia continues to be well above
average for styrene workers. This suggests that OSHA’s 100 ppm is far too
high - It should be much lower. Anyone with leukemia must conder the
possibility that styrene exposure may have played at least a partial role in
their deadly disease.
The EPA determined that 0.1 part of styrene per million is
the maximum that may be present in public drinking water, but monitoring is
limited and violations to mandated water quality standards do occur frequently.
The EPA also requires that styrene spills or accidental releases into the
environment must be reported, but accidents often go unreported (for obvious
CYA reasons). Mysterious increases in water supply styrene do happen where the
criminal polluters are never caught.
The following U.S. government documents point out that
styrene, and hundreds of other common environment toxins, are listed as a known
or suspected carcinogens. The controversial problem is that the uninformed
public is not being educated about the cancer risk research that has already
been done. Posting this information on government Internet web sites does NOT
result in improvements in lifestyle or environmental conditions.
What company has the motivation to advertise that the
packaging on their common food products may cause cancer? What company would
spend the money to do a long-term study to determine if their product causes
cumulative health damage?
Is Modern Genetically Engineered Cow’s Milk “Good For You” ?
Modern cow’s milk has been linked to human breast cancer,
prostate cancer, juvenile diabetes, and a wide variety of other food allergies,
intestinal problems, and devastating diseases. Unpolluted human milk from a
healthy mother is the perfect food for most human infants. Milk from free
ranging, unmedicated, unpolluted, healthy cows is a perfect food for young
calves, but NOT for humans.
Human milk contains essential Human Growth Hormone (HGH).
Cow’s milk contains Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH), which is essential for calves,
but unhealthy for all humans.
If a newborn human infant is fed fresh cow’s milk, the BGH
can kill the human cells that produce insulin, resulting in deadly juvenile
diabetes. In calves, BGH accelerates weight gain, and causes cattle to
mature sexually, so they can reproduce at a young age. When human adults
consume BGH, it is statistically linked to an increased risk of breast caner
(in males and females) and prostate cancer in males. Excess growth
hormone (of any type) can cause cancer and other deadly diseases in adults.
Milk was designed for infants. In some very healthy cultures, adults never
consume any type of milk. There are many other excellent sources of necessary
nutrients, like calcium, etc.
The unhealthy American practice of periodically injecting
cattle with excess BGH has dramatically effects on the unhealthy animals and
the food products from them. One documented example is mastitis which causes
cows to dump large amounts of pus in their milk.
genetically-engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) has been wisely been
banned in Europe and Canada, but inept, corrupt, U.S. government agencies
still allow it.
rBGH is promoted heavily to the
gullible American cattle industry by Monsanto (the unscrupulous company that
also created Agent Orange and neurotoxic Aspartame).
rBGH is known to cause many
serious health problems in the cattle that receive it, AND in the food
products (meat and milk) produced by them.
Pushes Hormones on School Kids in Their Milk
Unambiguously Documented Pervasive U.S. Sources Of Cancer
Americans blindly continue to expose themselves to many
well-documented cancer-causing agents every day. They ignore publicly
documented high cancer risk factors.
Who can say which source may have caused the cancer that
killed someone you loved, or is making you suffer a slow painful death? If
cancer occurs in your family, it may be linked in part to genetics, but it is
much more likely that environmental carcinogens played a much larger role in
carcinogenesis than the DNA inherited by most people.
Familial cancer is often linked to lifestyle habit training
by uninformed parents (smoking and alcohol consumption are two of the most
significant obvious examples; pervasive styrene exposure for example is a more
subtle cancer causing agent).
Your mother may have exposed you to carcinogens in her womb,
or through her breast milk, rather than from her chromosomes or those from your
father. Many cancers that are common in multiple members of a family could
probably jave been avoided by well-informed lifestyle changes.
Changes in voluntary lifestyle choices can undoubtedly
reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, by reducing exposure to these
sometimes-difficult-to-understand carcinogens. Government agencies do NOT
require product manufactures to test and document the level of these well-known
carcinogens in their products. Vendors must label the content of a few
important nutrients, but NOT the things that are we know can kill you and your
family. The government documents the following list of known carcinogens, but
NOT their presence in the food we feed our children. This is OUTRAGEOUS
STUPIDITY by corrupt public officials.
Even our American water supplies and the air we breathe are
contaminated to varying degrees in various locations. Our only option is to
study what information is available, and wisely make the best lifestyle choices
we can - all things considered.
The following U.S. HHS report is cryptic and difficult to
apply. It mentions chemical names, but fails to tell you what products you are
now purchasing that contain these pervasive carcinogens. For example, see our
material on Bread, for an introduction to Acrylamides (on the following government
list of environmental carcinogens).
Many of these insidious cancer-causing toxins are far worse
than pervasive styrene. It is beyond Joyful Aging’s
resources to document them all in an understandable way, but we have tried to
explain the basics in this material. We sincerely hope that you will benefit
significantly from our incomplete contribution. Please let us know if we can
help you in your personal search for more information.
Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Service - National Toxicology Program
10th Report on
Carcinogen - Anything that
initiates cancer-producing processes,
(or reduces the body’s natural cancer defense mechanisms).
Table of Contents
Carcinogens Listed in the Tenth Report
A. Known to be Human Carcinogens
Anticipated to be Human Carcinogens
Dyes Metabolized to Benzidine
Metabolized to Benzidine
Paraffins (C12, 60% Chlorine)
Ether and Technical-Grade Chloromethyl Methyl Ether
and p-Chloro-o-toluidine Hydrochloride
C.I. Basic Red
Coal Tars and
Coal Tar Pitches
and 3,3´-Dichlorobenzidine Dihydrochloride
and Dyes Metabolized to 3,3´-Dimethoxybenzidine
Metabolized to 3,3´-Dimethoxybenzidine
and Dyes Metabolized to 3,3´-Dimethylbenzidine
Metabolized to 3,3´-Dimethylbenzidine
Disperse Blue 1
and Lead Phosphate
Other Hexachlorocyclohexane Isomers
with Ultraviolet A Therapy (PUVA)
and its Dihydrochloride Salt
Mineral Oils (Untreated
and Mildly Treated)
Compounds and Metallic Nickel
Analgesic Mixtures Containing Phenacetin
Mixtures Containing Phenacetin
Aromatic Hydrocarbons, 15 Listings
Inorganic Acid Mists Containing Sulfuric Acid
o-Toluidine and o-Toluidine
Radiation Related Exposures
Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation
Sunbeds, Exposure to
Table 1.Chemicals Nominated to the NTP
for In-Depth Toxicological Evaluation or Carcinogenesis Testing in Fiscal Years
Table 2.CDC/NIOSH Response to Inquiries
about Carcinogens Listed in the Tenth Report on Carcinogens
V. Report on Carcinogens Listing/Delisting
Processes, Occupations, and Exposure Circumstances Classified by IARC as
Category 1, Carcinogenic to
Substances, Mixtures, or Exposure Circumstances Delisted from the Report on
Substances, Mixtures, or Exposure Circumstances Reviewed but not Recommended for
Listing in the Report on
D. List of
F. Acronyms and
G. Units of
Registry Number Index
You Cook Can Increase The Risk Of Cancer
See DHHS –
228 Cancer Causing Agents
Cancer Society Guide to Nutrition and Exercise
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