Sunday, September 18, 2011

Scary (and Toxic) Substances

MyAchingKnees has written many times before about the four legs of health and one of those legs being “Avoidance of Toxins”. Devon Jarvis, of SELF, wrote an article posted on Yahoo! About Scary Products: Which to Eliminate, Cut Back On or Quit Worrying About.

Why this is important to us is because toxins can interfere with our immune system, creating more oxidative stress which of course results in inflammation and that inflammation can manifest itself to joint pain and connective tissue and muscles which can enhance the pain from that joint.

1. Triclosan, the chemical used in hundreds of germ-fighting products, may damage the liver and disrupt thyroid hormones. These products contribute to drug resistance, and people using antimicrobial soap get sick as often as regular suds users, a review in the American Journal of Public Health finds. Toss triclosan. Gotta sanitize? Opt for alcohol-based gels.

2. Tobacco smoke contains ammonia, benzene, formaldehyde and 50 chemicals known to cause cancer. "Plus, smoking damages your lungs, kidneys and liver, the body's detoxifiers, which protect you from other chemical exposures," notes consumer advocate Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Toxic Free.

3. "Fresh" paint smell signals volatile organic compounds, solvents that can trigger breathing issues, headaches and dizziness, and that research links to reproductive problems and birth defects, says Gina Solomon, M.D., senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in San Francisco. Low- or no-VOC paints from brands such as Benjamin Moore have a similar texture but less toxicity.

4. BPA, the synthetic estrogen linked to cancer and abnormal brain development, is in the lining of most food and beverage cans, and it can leach out. Whether the food is organic doesn't matter, USDA tests show. When possible, buy fresh or frozen items; there's no BPA in plastic freezer bags, says Sarah Janssen, M.D., senior scientist at the NRDC.

5. Using chlorine bleach, cleaning sprays and disinfectants more than once a week is linked to asthma, says the author of a 2010 Spanish review of studies. Dr. Solomon adds, "There is a role for strong cleaning agents if used with care." Save them for serious mold and mildew, and never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia, because the combo produces toxic fumes. Wear gloves, open the windows, and dilute every cup of bleach you use in 10 cups of water.

6. Plastics Memorize the numbers 3, 6 and 7. These recycling codes mean plastic may have BPA, Dr. Landrigan says. Instead, store food in glass or plastic with codes 4, 5 and 12. But no plastic is "microwave safe." The claim means a container won't melt, not that chemicals won't seep into your dinner.

7. “The word fragrance on a label may stand in for hundreds of chemicals," Dr. Solomon says, including phthalates and musks, endocrine disrupters that have been linked to reproductive dysfunction. The laundry room is a good place to cut back. Seek out unscented detergents and dryer sheets, as coating clothes with chemicals means you're exposed all day, all over your skin.

8. AspartameDespite Internet rumors, a National Cancer Institute study of nearly 500,000 people discerned no link between consuming this sweetener and developing leukemia, lymphoma or brain cancers. Nor is it tied to multiple sclerosis or lupus. (But remember, most soda cans do contain BPA.) MyAchingKnees comment: Boy, they got this wrong! Do not use Aspartame! It has been linked to lethargy, headaches, muscle fatigue, memory loss, tremors, even seizures. If you consume diet drinks with Aspartame, do yourself a favor and stop for a week and notice the difference!

9. Cotton Even though conventional cotton farmers use high levels of potentially planet-harming pesticides, there's no evidence that simply wearing the fabric harms consumers, testing by the Bremen Cotton Exchange in Germany reveals. As for tampons, they expose us to 13,000 to 240,000 times fewer dioxins than our everyday diet does, according to a report in Environmental Health Perspectives. Be confident choosing any brand that works for you, organic or not.

10. The debate over water fluoridation shouldn't have you questioning your Crest. The feds have advised utilities to lower the amount of fluoride allowed in tap water, due to studies linking fluoridation with bone fractures and stiffness; however, both environmentalists and dentists agree that fluoride toothpaste is safe and necessary for everyone older than two. Check the label for a paste without triclosan—some brands add it, supposedly to prevent germs, plaque or gingivitis. MyAchingKnees comment: I have not used a fluoride toothpaste for 5 years now. I have been using a natural toothpaste. My dentist always remarks how well my gums look and I have had no cavities. The last time I had my teeth cleaned, I relented and took the fluoride treatment afterwards and I about vomited and developed a headache. Nobody can tell me that Fluoride is either necessary or not a toxin.

11. Teflon coated pots and pans. The EPA is working to phase out perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), used in making Teflon coating. Nonstick cookware, however, doesn't expose you to PFOA, even when you subject it to extreme heat, confirms a study in Food Additives & Contaminants. Scratched parts are fine, too, so flip your flapjacks fearlessly.

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