Commentary: A link in plastic use, cancer?

By Sara cialis Frost Azzam/ Guest Columnist/Wellesley Townsman
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Earlier this year, the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project presented an editorial regarding dangerous substances that may be found in buy viagra legally personal care products. Due to the significant interest in this issue, this past week, the WCPP hosted a program at Wellesley College that focused on similar substances that may be found in common household containers and products.

Our speakers, Dr. Carlos Sonnenschein and Dr. Ana Soto, renowned scientists from the Tufts University School of Medicine, are interested in cancer and cell proliferation. During the course of their experiments, they accidentally discovered the estrogenic properties cialis in plastic laboratory tests tubes. Among other problems, estrogens can cause birth defects in both boys and girls, and can also cause cancer. These same estrogens are found in many types of plastics that we use in our everyday lives.

Drs. Sonnenschein and Soto have determined that Americans are increasingly being exposed to chemicals that have not been tested for safety. They spoke about the Precautionary Principle, which is practiced by the European Union, but is not practiced in the US, despite growing support. The Precautionary Principle does not allow untested chemicals to be released to consumers.

One of the key questions asked at the forum, was “What can we do?” We have two responses to that question.

The first is: Be Informed. There are many Web sites that provide information about health risks. One good example is the National Institute of Health’s Web site that provides easy-to-understand information about the potential health effects of more than 2,000 ingredients contained in many household products. The Internet site is: http://www.householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov” and the information gives a more in-depth look at some of the warnings that are posted on household products that we often ignore. This information demonstrates potential hazards about the products we use and how they can affect our health and the health of our families, friends and neighbors. The information that this Web site provides is not necessarily conclusive; however, this information can help you decide whether or not you are comfortable taking certain risks, especially when there are alternative products available.

The second response to “What can we do?” is: Get Active. The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow is a Massachusetts coalition of residents, scientists, health professionals, workers and educators. Their Web site, www.healthytomorrow.org, is one of the best for helping you make informed decisions about health risks and for informing the public about initiatives within the commonwealth. Their “Resources” page provides links to many different Web sites that discuss issues with chemicals in the home, workplace and the outdoors. Their “Initiatives and Campaigns” page discusses the recent bills that have been filed in the State Legislature. Chief among these bills is “An Act for a Healthy Massachusetts: Safer Alternatives to Toxic Chemicals,” which asks the state to create a comprehensive program to replace toxic chemicals with safer alternatives in consumer products and other businesses, and another called “The Mercury Products Bill,” which would restrict the sale of certain mercury-containing products that have safer alternatives available and on the market.

Many other states, notably California and New York, have signed legislation regarding the use of chemicals. If you are worried about chemicals in the environment, one step you can take is to do the research, and write to your state representatives and senators. It is especially important that individuals take the time to do this because many groups (including the WCPP) are unable to endorse legislation due to their nonprofit tax status.

In closing, I leave you with this piece of information: In March 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency released new guidelines on how its scientists should assess the cancer risk posed by environmental pollutants. The last time the EPA revised the cancer guidelines was in 1986. Why did it take almost 20 years when we all know cancer is on the rise, and has been during that 20-year time span? Maybe it is time to urge for national legislation that supports the premise of the Precautionary Principle, like the European Union has done, and like Drs. Sonnenschein and Soto urged in their presentation.

This was submitted on behalf of the Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project. Sara Frost Azzam is chairwoman of the group.