My Uncle Caesar died of cancer several years ago, fellas.
Uncle Caesar lived a clean life: no liquor, no cigarettes, no vice. He was an elementary head teacher where his only route was school-home, home-school.
All of us were shocked when we learned that he had cancer of the lungs. Nobody among his housemates smoked. He did not even use perfume. I knew these things because one of his brothers was my best friend and I frequented their house when there was no work to do.
Another good friend who died of cancer was the late Regional DepEd Supervisor for Araling Panlipunan Evelyn Martinez. She was as clean as Uncle Caesar. She was one of my interviewers when I won as the Most Outstanding School Paper Advisers (Secondary) for Region I, and eventually for the country, some years back. She was a very good conversationalist, so humble and kind and I miss her that much, with tears. Blessed be her soul.
But why the cancer, fellas, if these good people didn’t drink or smoke?
My Quora Digest research gave the answers. There are “housemates” which are carcinogenic and we don’t even notice that they exist!
1. Air Fresheners
According to a report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, many of the air-fresheners we use in our homes on a regular basis contain compounds with carcinogenic potential. The vast majority of air-fresheners, even some marked “all-natural” or “unscented,” contain compounds called phthalates. Different types of phthalates have different health consequences although the majority of them affect reproductive health. Many of them can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma. A report in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives mentioned that phthalate exposure could be linked to increased breast cancer risk. Another medical report suggested that phthalates promote prostate cancer cell proliferation.
Particles from burning candles are extremely dangerous for your health according to several studies. Particles from burning candles have a stronger effect than diesel exhaust particles. One scientific experiment on mice found that particles from burning candles triggered inflammatory reactions in the lungs and damaged cells. The researchers also found that particles from burning candles had a stronger effect than diesel exhaust particles.
Exposure to particles from burning candles can shorten your life. Another scientific study on mice found that exposure to particles from burning candles greatly increased the progression of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis). Clogged arteries greatly increase the likelihood of heart attack, stroke and even death. The same experiment also found that exposures to particles from burning candles induced telomere shortening in the lungs and spleen.
3. Shower Curtains and Other Plastics
The next danger comes from the plastic toxins that seem to be all over the house. You may recognize polyvinyl chloride by its abbreviation: PVC. PVC is the third highest produced type of plastic in the world. Although PVC may be harmless for certain applications, like sewer pipes for example, but when used in environments that can release the toxic carcinogenic compounds of PVC, this plastic polymer could become a ticking time bomb.
Shower curtains contain PVC and other toxic compounds that can be released as you shower. These toxins can affect the reproductive system, the respiratory system, and may be carcinogenic as well. Some of the plastic products used to make children’s toys, containers and other plastics may also be a health hazard.
4. Carpet Cleaners and Fabric Shampoos
Many carpet shampoos and fabric cleaners that are designed to offer superior stain removal power use a product called perchloroethylene. Perchloroethylene, also called Tetrachlorethylene, has been linked to increased risks of developing lung cancer. Carpet cleaners and fabric shampoos also sometimes contain a compound called naphthalene. Naphthalene is the main ingredient in mothballs and naphthalene exposure is linked to an increased risk in developing throat and lung cancers.
Baking soda is a great odor remover and white vinegar is effective for removing dirt and stains. If you want to get rid of your carpet shampoo, sprinkle your carpets with baking soda, add vinegar to your water to shampoo, and then wait for your carpets to dry. Sprinkle with baking soda again if necessary and then vacuum any powder that remains.
5. Dry Cleaning Products
According to the American Cancer Society, another carcinogen hidden in your cupboards could be Tetrachlorethylene or Perchloroethylene that has been used on your dry-cleaned items. These chemicals are often included as solvents in products like dry cleaning products. Wearing clothes that were dry-cleaned can unintentionally expose you to these harmful substances.
6. Insecticides and Pesticides
The term family usually extends to our furry friends. One would think that the products promoted as pet friendly would indeed be pet and human friendly. However, like your cleaning materials, there are a number of potentially carcinogenic chemicals in many of the tick, flea and lice control products too. Some tick and flea products contain organophosphate insecticides, permethrin and carbamates. These products are listed as likely to be carcinogenic to humans.
7. Antibacterial Products
We are often fooled into thinking that certain products are automatically safe. This is particularly true of products like antibacterial products that are supposedly designed to make our environments safer. Recent concerns about an ingredient used in many antibacterial products have led to a ban in the use of this product in areas like the EU. Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal ingredient found in many cosmetics, soaps, detergents and even in toothpastes.
Evidence suggests that Triclosan may be carcinogenic. Although initial tests were only done on mice, there were enough concerns to ban the product in the EU.
There are claims that deodorants could be harmful to you and even cause cancer. Dr. Philip Harvey, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Applied Toxicology looked into the ways cosmetics interact with your body. He says that wiping the chemicals found in deodorants under your arms and on the sides of your chest or breasts “could provide a route of almost direct exposure to underlying tissue containing estrogen receptors.”
This is concerning because, both parabens and aluminum, found in deodorants, are “estrogenic” chemicals—which means that they interact with your body’s hormones or cells in ways similar to estrogen. According to the National Cancer Institute, excess estrogen plays a role in promoting the growth of cancer cells which is a great concern because of our daily exposure to deodorants.
9. Toothpastes containing triclosan
The use of a chemical called triclosan in a top-selling toothpaste has provoked a lot of debate in the past. It emerged that for the past 18 years millions of people have been regularly putting in their mouths a toxin potentially linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, infertility and other health problems.
And what is triclosan, fellas?
Triclosan is a pesticide and resembles a major component of the Agent Orange chemical weapon sprayed during the Vietnam War. It is also known as 5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol, and has initially been used in surgical hand scrubs and other disinfectants. It’s a derivative of 2,4-D, which is a highly toxic herbicide, not exactly a substance you would expect to find in your toothpaste.
There are 9 of them, fellas.
Hearken and beware.
Life is good if we are healthy.