Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Precautionary Principle

I attended a lecture last night called "Making Prevention the Cure for Cancer". It was given by a very intelligent women, a scientist, who is the director of the University of Pittsburgh's Environmental Oncology Department. She offered some of her suggestions for reducing your environmental cancer risk.

I realize that every day someone is telling us that something else is bad for us, but this women is a scientist, a PhD, and has spent her life studying the correlation between cancer and environmental factors - good enough for me. She herself recognizes the onslaught of information about products that are bad for us, but explained to us her adherence to something called the precautionary principle. Briefly stated, her belief is: "it doesn't take a lot of data to convince me to be cautious". It is in that spirit that I now offer some of her suggestions*.

1. Plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7 are bad. Avoid them when possible and stick with 1,2,4 and 5.

2. Do not, under any circumstances, use Gladware (any plastic, really) in the microwave. "Microwave Safe" just means it won't melt, not that it won't leech toxins into your food.

3. Throw away your Nalgene (especially if, like me, you tend to wash it in the dishwasher) and buy a stainless steel bottle.

4. If you buy these items organically, you can reduce something around 90% of your exposure to pesticides and other nasties: Apples, Bell peppers, Celery, Cherries, Imported grapes , Nectarines, Peaches, Pears, Potatoes, Raspberries, Spinach, Strawberries, meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, Broccoli, Cauliflower.

5. Watch out for too many members of the paraben family in your health and beauty products. Parabens are thought to be endocrine disrupters meaning that they disrupt cell function and reproduction - a known cause of both breast and ovarian cancer. A chemical in the Parabens family will usually have a methyl-, ethyl-, butyl-, or propyl- prefix. They're in everything, but again, employing the precautionary principle, limiting them (or at least being aware of them) can't be a bad thing.

Also, she said the single best thing you can do for yourself (other than eating your crucifers), is to maintain a healthy immune system. Get enough antioxidants and don't stress out too much!! She said to keep a positive thought in your mind at all times. Cheezy, maybe, but she is a professional.

* Although she had data to back all of this up, I have no included it all here. If anyone finds anything to the contrary of what is here, please let me know...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Randy's Lecture

Dr. Pausch is a professor at CMU who has terminal pancreatic cancer. He gave a "final lecture" at CMU recently and you need to watch it: