Happy New Year to all my readers, family and friends on the internet; I hope that the year we left behind will stay behind us and that we bring new challenges, changes, and ideas to ourselves and each other in this new year.
Every year around this time, I—like many others—take on the new year with gusto, vowing to make changes—whether good or bad—lose weight, and exercise more. This year is no different. I’ve thrown out the leftover chocolates, cookies, and cakes from Christmas feasting and filled my fridge with wholesome, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. When it comes to eating properly, it’s not really that hard for me; since I developed gastritis a few years ago, I have been eating to lessen stomach upset. And I have to say, I don’t lament about stomach ailments like I used to.
Now, it’s fairly easy for a lot of people to eat properly. It’s all we hear about. But, exercise, well, that’s a little trickier. I mean, who wants to go for a walk when it’s 10 below outside? And exercise, like anything else is hard to get back into once you skip a few sessions/days. But, nowadays, there is a wide array of 15-20 minute exercise sessions on the YouTube, and if you have an iPhone/iPad there are countless apps to get you on the right track, from beginner to advanced levels. Personally, I have been a Kathy Smith student for 30 years. Her workout videos are fun and they actually work. She has been in the fitness field for 50 years. Needless to say, she knows her stuff.
So, from what I hear and see, most people know that eating right and exercising not only helps you look and feel good inside and out, it also improves brain health and prevents disease.
However, there is one thing that I do not hear much about. And I don’t think a lot of people talk about it unless they have been diagnosed or know someone who has been diagnosed. Yes, I am talking about cancer. Now, I know anyone can get any tidbit of information from the internet, but sometimes, we tend not to look until it is staring us right in the face. Let’s face it; unless you, or someone you know, has been through a cancer scare, you are unlikely to Google it.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, one of the best ways to prevent cancer is to reduce the risk. This includes eating right, exercising, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and reducing exposure to the sun. These are the things that most people try to make happen in their lives.
But, you know, there is another aspect to cancer prevention that I don’t hear too often. And that has to do with chemicals; chemicals in the products we use at home, from the moisturizer that we put on our bodies to the cleanser we use to clean the bathtub.
The following is a list of chemicals that I have learned about and will try to eliminate from my home this year. If you’d like to add to the list, please do so, and I hope that perhaps by reading this you, yourself, will have become just a little more aware.
1. BHA and BHT
Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA).
2. Coal tar dyes
P-phenylenediamine and colours listed as “CI” followed by a five digit number. In addition to coal tar dyes, natural and inorganic pigments used in cosmetics are also assigned Colour Index numbers (in the 75000 and 77000 series, respectively).
Look for p-phenylenediamine in hair dyes and in other products’ colours listed as “CI” followed by five digits. Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain.
3. DEA-related ingredients
Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer. Harmful to fish and other wildlife. Look also for related chemicals MEA and TEA.
4. Dibutyl phthalate
Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer.
Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions.
7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)
Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics – even in some products marketed as “unscented.” Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife.
8. PEG compounds
Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., polyethylene glycol).
Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lipsticks and moisturizers. A petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer.
Look for ingredients ending in “-siloxane” or “-methicone.” Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife.
11. Sodium laureth sulfate
Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters “eth” (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate).
Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.