Eco-Rep Green Corner: Simple lifestyle changes to reduce breast cancer risk

Breast cancer research in the last five years has brought up some important environmental issues that are related to the increased risk of cancer. You may not realize it, but taking small steps to make your everyday life more ecologically friendly could also help to prevent serious disease. Each day, we can’t help but be exposed to harmful chemicals that increase our risk of developing cancer. Chemicals found in car exhaust, second-hand smoke and even some tap water have been linked to increased chances of developing estrogen-responsive breast cancer. The Susan G. Komen Foundation has teamed up with the Silent Spring Institute to sponsor research that links breast cancer to effects found in the environment. In the conclusion of one of the Silent Spring Institute’s research reports, the authors state:

Because environmental pollutant exposures are both common and avoidable, reducing them should be a public health priority. Given that the American Cancer Society estimates more than 200,000 new breast cancer diagnoses a year in the U.S., if even a small percentage is due to preventable environmental factors, modifying these factors would spare thousands of women.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, in the spirit of awareness, here are some tips for how you can make your lifestyle more environmentally healthy while reducing the risk of cancer at the same time:

Drive half as much! Sure, there are certain situations where driving is absolutely necessary — bad weather, long distances — but if you can get to where you need to go by walking or riding your bike, you instantly reduce the amount of toxins polluting the air for that day. If the reduced risk of cancer for yourself and others is not enough incentive to leave your car at home, think of the other added benefits, like saving your gas money and getting exercise while you accomplish other tasks on your to-do list.

Stop smoking! By smoking you are not only putting yourself at an extremely high risk, you are also endangering the people around you. It is common knowledge that smoking can lead to lung cancer as well as cancers of the mouth and tongue, but the chemicals from the smoke can also trigger estrogen-responsive breast cancer. Think about how many people you are affecting by lighting up the next time the urge hits you.

Filter your water! Chlorine, a chemical commonly found in tap water, has been shown to increase the vulnerability of people toward breast cancer. You can help yourself out and keep yourself protected from the effects of chlorine by filtering your water, either through the tap or in a filtered pitcher. Bottled water is not a reasonable alternative to filtering your own water because of the chemicals found in plastic. After a while, the chemicals seep into the water and can cause more estrogen-responsive cell problems. The best way to avoid the effects of chlorine and make your drinking water safe is to invest in a filtration system and a reusable water bottle.

For more information about the Silent Spring Institute and its research, visit http://www.silentspring.org.

– Dorothy Shrader

Rider Eco-Rep

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