Friday, November 7, 2008

More Skin

I had the chance to go to another seminar at the Gilda's Club in Seattle. It is part of a series on Cancer and the environment. This particular seminar had to do with household products and cosmetics. As if there aren't enough things to worry about that cause cancer, now there is what goes on my face. It all gets to be a little overwhelming sometimes.

It is a bit like being in a haunted house where things just keep jumping out at you from every corner. I certainly believe that our environment has something to do with cancer. It just makes sense that as a developed country we have many uses for chemicals. We are a nation of convenience and image so our cosmetics and lotions and potions are very important to us.

I was stunned to find out how many things are suspected or known carcinogens in things that I use every day; cleaners, shampoo, makeup, nail polish etc. I think there are two ways that one can deal with this information. One is to PANIC! Shut the doors and live in a bubble (but not a plastic one!)Tell the world to go away, live off the land and grow your own food. I can't choose this one. I enjoy being out in the world and I refuse to be afraid of everything that I touch or buy. I think the other way to deal with this information is to be informed and try to make good choices.

There are plenty of choices that are easy and probably don't carry the same risks. For instance, we clean our floors with vinegar instead of using a chemical cleaner. For me, this is a pretty easy substitution. There are also more options available for purchase. At the seminar they told us about a website that can help you compare some of your daily household products. It is You can enter in anything you like; lipstick, detergent, your favorite lotion and it will tell you what type of things might be in the ingredients that are potentially harmful. The other thing that it tells you is that some percentage of products are better choices. For instance, the lipstick that I use says that 62% of products are better choices. I could definitely use this information to panic when I find out what is in my lipstick, or I can look at some of the other options and see if there is something that I might be comfortable with changing to.

Maybe the lipstick is what caused my cancer, but I am more inclined to think that it is a combination of many, many things. I can't change everything in my life, but I can try to make the best choices that work for me and my family and hope that I pick the right combination.

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