Have You Been Exposed to a Chemical Cocktail?

The President’s Cancer Panel is the Blue Ribbon Committee of all Blue Ribbon Committees. It’s part of the National Cancer Institute and it’s as mainstream (and conservative) as you can get. Its job is to monitor the activities of the National Cancer Program and to report directly to the President.

Last week the President’s Cancer Panel issued a landmark, 200-page report declaring essentially that chemicals in the environment were a major threat to our bodies.

This might seem like a big “duh” to readers of this newsletter, but the fact that this mainstream, conservative, cautious, impeccably credentialed establishment group has now joined hands with their more “left wing” brethren in the organic foods movement, not to mention those of us on the front lines of nutrition and integrative health, is a cause for rejoicing.

Hate to say, “I told you so”, but I’ve been going to conferences for years in which alternative and integrative medicine experts have been warning about the effects of chemicals in the environment. The problem was getting mainstream medicine to pay attention. Since many of these chemicals- if not the majority- are produced by big industry, controlling and regulating them present enormous political and economic challenges. (Already the food industry is screaming bloody murder fighting legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein that would ban bisphenol-A, found in plastics, from food and beverage containers.)

But at last the mainstream is paying attention to the problem- and that’s a really important first step.

There are some 80,000 chemicals in our environment; only a few hundred of these are regulated. There are only 91 contaminants covered by the Safe Drinking Water Act. And most experts acknowledge that enforcement of existing regulations is sporadic and lax at best. Even though there’s a fair amount of research on individual chemicals, the average person is exposed to a chemical cocktail of dozens if not hundreds of these substances on a daily basis. No one on earth knows the cumulative result of ingesting this kind of chemical soup, particularly over the course of a lifespan.

“Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

So what to do?

Obviously getting this very serious issue on the national radar is a first step. The Cancer Panel also recommended some very good steps for individuals. Here they are:

  • Particularly when pregnant and when children are small, choose foods, toys and garden products with fewer endocrine disruptors or other toxins. (Information about products is at www.cosmeticsdatabase.com or www.healthystuff.org.)
  • For those whose jobs may expose them to chemicals, remove shoes when entering the house and wash work clothes separately from the rest of the laundry.
  • Filter drinking water.
  • Store water in glass or stainless steel containers, or in plastics that don’t contain BPA or phthalates, (chemicals used to soften plastics). Microwave food in ceramic or glass containers.
  • Give preference to food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers and growth hormones. Avoid meats that are cooked well-done.
  • Check radon levels in your home. Radon is a natural source of radiation linked to cancer.
  • Use only natural personal care products. One of my secrets for looking young is the Jeneuvia skin care system which is made from fruits, vegetables and herbs.