Cancer. It’s one of our greatest fears. And I am no exception.
As you know, I grew up in abuse and trauma and have received treatment from a therapist who describes violence against children as a social cancer. Did you know that there are higher incidents of cancer among those who survive abuse, as well as those who treat those people? Trauma, abuse, and deviance are behaviors, and yet they impart a physiological response in some bodies.
I want my cells to be healthy, my body to function, and my well-being to be vibrant. Because cancer is something that is so far-reaching and devastating, it’s no wonder that people are constantly looking for ways to reduce their risk of getting cancer.
Fortunately, there are several simple things you can do in your home to take your exposure to carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) waaaay down. Every single one of these items on this list are easily checked with EWG’s Skin Deep Database. You can type in the name of your window cleaner, the brand of lotion you use, or the bisphenol-A (BPA) in your canned food. Skin Deep will show you the level of risk you are taking by using that product, including the breakdown of what chemicals are in each of those items.
But most importantly, think.
As you plug in product after product, think about how all those items add up. Maybe the risk of your lotion is moderate, and the risk of your window cleaner is high, and the BPA you don’t eat that often. What about the cumulative effect of all those items together. Is there a study on that? Is there a warning label for the combination of all the chemicals in your house? I would argue that the vast numbers of unexplained cancers is compelling. I have not found a study that measures cumulative exposure to carcinogens.
People give me hard time about using a stainless steel water bottle, saying “C’mon! That plastic water bottle isn’t going to give you cancer!” Well, maybe not all by itself.
But when I use plastic in my toothbrush, my water bottle, my sandwich bag, my food containers, and my dishes, perhaps I am overstating the health of being consistently surrounded by plastics that may affect my health.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
1: Simplify Your Cleaning Supplies: Many of the commercial cleaning products at your local grocery store are full of carcinogenic substances that are not only toxic, but are breathed in when you spray them on surfaces at home. Not to mention the fact that your skin may be coming in contact with those chemicals unless you are wearing gloves. Fortunately, it’s not hard to make your own cleaning products, or to buy from safe sources.
First of all, check out the cleaning products listed in my Marketplace here. I love the companies we have vetted for cleaning! You don’t need to worry about their reputation, because we make sure that they are the highest quality. I recommend them personally.
You should also grab this Toxic-Free ebook by Robin at Thank Your Body. It’s so very handy! She has very simple, very clean, very streamlined recipes that you can use safely at home. And they are all tried and true and actually work. Some I had heard of, and others I hadn’t. But here they are all compiled together: perfect for helping making your house cancer-free.
Sometimes clean living is easy! And I love the straightforwardness of this ebook: it’s simple to download and start living in a toxic-free house, with no carcinogens in sight.
2: Greener Beauty Products:
I had to rethink my face routine when I started reading labels. I started with food, but then I quickly started to question other things I was putting into or onto my body. I wasn’t sure what was in my compact of face powder, or if my makeup was full of unlisted chemicals like “fragrance” or artificial colors and dyes.
I checked my face toners and lotions and makeup in the Skin Deep database and I was shocked at how many chemicals I was coming in contact with on a daily basis. And each one is “safe”, but again: none are tested all together and added up over time. What was I putting on my skin every day? And what were the consequences? I didn’t want to find out!
So I simplified my skin care regimen, and started using products from companies that I trusted. I have even made my own hydrating watermelon-yogurt mask, deodorant, and lip balm! It’s actually really fun to play with these things at home, combining homemade spa treatments, like the recipes in this DIY Organic Beauty book, with professionally-made products from the high-quality companies that I recommend here.
In fact, I will even say that I like them more than any of my old makeup and high-end beauty treatments from department stores. Who needs overpriced, fragrance-laden jars of lotion? Not me!
3: Ditch the Non-Stick:
Non-stick pans are made with a coating of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or other chemical non-stick compounds that are deemed safe but pose some risks. It has even been documented that teens exposed to non-stick coatings have elevated total and LDL cholesterol levels (source).
Non-stick pans were made to make cooking easier, yes, but also to reduce the need for cooking with fat. This fat phobia is an ongoing belief that fat causes us to be fat, or even causes our cholesterol to go up or heart disease to loom menacingly. It turns out that traditional fats are good for you, and that saturated fats in particular do not cause heart disease and high cholesterol.
You can find safe kitchen appliances here on my resource page, but you also may need a replacement for that non-stick skillet in your cupboard. Try out a cast iron skillet instead, or even a set of Le Creuset cookware. They are quality pieces that last for a lifetime and are perfectly safe.
4: Filter Your Water:
Filtered water is so underrated! We tend to take the cleanliness and safety of our water for granted. However, most drinking water from the tap contains chlorine and other unhealthy additions as a byproduct of water treatment. Depending on your area, you may also be lucky to have these in your drinking water: flouride, lead, harmful bacteria, and even jet fuel and pharmaceuticals!
Fortunately, there is the Berkey water filter. I covet this! You can find all the different styles on my resource page here. I would eventually like to get a whole house filtration system, but that will have to be a little time from now.
In the meantime, I am currently purchasing a Big Berkey for the kitchen countertop, as well as a shower filter and a bath filter. Like they say: “Get a filter or BE a filter!”
Plus if you are a hiker and camper, or just want to have a water filtration system in your emergency preparedness collection, Berkey’s are great. They can filter out pathogens from non-potable water! There is even a small one that you can carry while backpacking.
5: Choose Organic and Local Produce:
This goes without saying. We all know that pesticides are omnipresent and can cause a host of health issues, including various forms of cancer (source). Organic produce is now available at even the most unnatural grocery store chains.
But not all organic produce is created the same! Judge your produce on what looks best and what you can afford. If you can find a farmer’s market near you, that is probably your best source for organic or even “beyond organic” produce. “Beyond organic” is a non-official term for farmers that have organic practices but are not officially certified organic. I personally vet my farmers so that I know where my food is coming from, and end up worrying less about the organic label.
At the very least, you can check which produce is most important to buy organic here in the EWG list The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. That way you can make educated choices at the grocery store for which fruits and veggies to pay more for as organic. Fortunately, organic produce is catching on, and a lot of organic choices are only slightly more expensive than their conventional counterparts.
6: Lose the Canned Foods:
The use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in canned foods is well-documented, most likely because of the recent fallout from BPA found in certain baby bottle brands and baby food packaging a few years ago. We have gotten wise to the health risks that BPA brings. However, BPA is most often used as a coating on the inside canned foods to keep the food from sticking to the metal on the inside. BPA is a known carcinogen, and has even shown up in the placentas of pregnant women and is known to cross the placenta into the developing fetus (source).
Good for us, there are a few brands that do NOT use BPA to line their canned foods. A few examples: Eden Organic, Trader Joe’s, Vital Choice, and Native Forest. Of course, you will need to make sure you contact these companies directly to make sure they are meeting your own personal standards.
Another option: buy only glass-packaged foods. Also beware: foods sold in waxed cardboard (like soy milk) are also usually lined with BPA.
7: Trade in Your Microwave:
The idea that microwaves make your food unhealthy is a bit of a controversial issue. Some people say that the microwave itself causes the food to degrade and become irradiated. But the only concrete evidence that I could find on the subject shows that the real danger is what container you use to reheat your food. (source)
Do not use plastics numbered 3, 6, or 7 in the microwave. Even better: don’t reheat food in plastic at all. Best: get a toaster oven instead! Toss your microwave out and use an appliance you don’t need to worry about.
8: Use Essential Oils instead of Synthetic Fragrances:
It is tempting to buy handy plug in fragrances, scented candles, air fresheners, lovely perfumes, and scented trash bags and so on. But one of the greatest offenders in the chemical world is simply called “fragrance“. Although fragrance is not a direct cancer threat, it is a known excitotoxin. Excitotoxins are considered a disruption to good health, and may affect your ability to avoid cancer.
Fragrance is essentially a smoke screen for a large list of unknown chemicals. So when you read the word “fragrance”, think “who knows what that is!?” (source).
If you like your house to smell good, then consider making the switch to essential oils. Pick your favorite scent and simply burn a beeswax tea light under an oil diffuser. Your house will smell amazing, and you won’t be breathing in anything unnatural! You can also use essential oils to make your own perfume, toothpaste, and other personal care products.
If you don’t like essential oils, try a good quality incense. I use them for meditation, and find them very relaxing and pleasant.