Good Chemistry: Green Tips for Better Health, from Planned Parenthood of Northern New England

Posts Tagged ‘breast health’

Shameless Shout Out for Breast Cancer Fund

When we scour the web for you, seeking great resources for women's reproductive health, we occasionally bump up against a real gem.  We are newly converted (and HUGE!) fans of the Breast Cancer Fund.

On their home page, they offer a little widget that let's you explore your living spaces.  You choose an area in your house or outdoors, then scroll over the little icons, which inform you of the dangers that lurk.  Cupboards, canned food, anti-bacterial soap...they cover it all

But the Breast Cancer Fund goes far beyond creating cool widgets for their site.  They are educating about breast cancer prevention are strong advocates to remove BPA from our environment, greening the chemical industry and demanding safe cosmetics.  Their site is also full of resources, like the video below:

Check 'em out!

Posted by on October 24th, 2011 No Comments

Curbside Leaves—Leaf Them Where They Lay

Ah, "stick season." We're nearly there. The leaves have almost finished falling from the trees. While getting my exercise raking the leaves in the back yard, I also got my exercise learning about the toxins in leaves. Even though those autumn leaves look beautiful, they have some not so pretty secrets.


It turns out that leaves that grow and fall along urban streets have tested positive for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PAHs are a group of chemicals that are formed during the incomplete burning of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage, or other organic substances, such as tobacco and charbroiled meat. PAHs can either be synthetic or occur naturally. The exhaust fumes from cars raise the level of PAHs, which makes the leaves in front of your home exposed and a bad choice for composting.

PAHs can affect your health in many serious ways; they can cause cancer and fertility issues. There is a lot of research on PAHs, many new studies are finding that they can be development and reproductive toxicants, interfering with the development of a fetus and causing harm to your reproductive system. Even more, a recent study cited men with high PAH exposure as having a 53% higher risk of infertility than men with low PHA exposure.

Pretty heavy stuff, eh? As a general rule, don't compost your roadside leaves.  Remember to check with your local solid waste and composting sites about your leaves. And by all means, don't burn them! Does anyone have any further suggestions about leaves?

Posted by on November 2nd, 2009 No Comments

A Crucial Catch: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Last weekend, I went the Pittsburgh Steelers football game and, in lieu of my terrible towel, I got a pink towel.  The pink towel reads: A Crucial Catch, Annual Screening Saves Lives.  October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and PPNNE is encouraging women to make breast exams a priority. According to the Breast Cancer Fund, breast cancer strikes more women in the world than any other type of cancer, except skin cancer. 

Last month at PPNNE’s conference, A Critical Link: The Environment and Women’s Health, Dr. Janet Gray spoke about the growing body of scientific evidence linking chemicals and radiation in our environment to the current high rates of breast cancer. There is a ton of information out there on what chemicals can cause cancer; reading Dr. Gray’s report is a great place to start.
The Breast Cancer Fund, with the help of Dr. Gray and the Daily Green, is posting prevention tips on their
Facebook page each weekday for Breast Cancer Awareness Month-check it out.   
Here are some of their tips:
 -Choose a bisphenol A (BPA)-free water or baby bottle
 -Drink safe water (not in a plastic bottle)
 -Choose truly “microwave-safe” containers – no plastic or plastic wrap

What’s the old saying?  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In addition to these tips, remember that getting a yearly breast exam is crucial.



Posted by on October 9th, 2009 No Comments

Summer Reading

Do you want in depth information on the links between human health & the environment? Are you  just looking for a good book to read on the beach?  Do you doubt the existence of one book that fits both of these criteria? Please, allow Dr. Sandra Steingraber to prove you wrong!

Steingraber is a scientist and a storyteller. She weaves biographical information, history, and scientific data into a coherent picture of how “Lifestyle and environment are not independent categories that can be untwisted from each other: to talk about one is to talk about the other” (Steingraber, 1997).


Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment examines the link between chemicals and cancer, challenging the heavy emphasis we place on genetics and lifestyle as causes for cancer.  Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood discusses the ecology of pregnancy. Both books are a strong argument for the precautionary principle: that chemicals should not be released into the environment until we know they are “almost certainly not going to hurt anyone” and that least toxic alternatives should always be used (Steingraber, 1997).

Dr. Steingraber is the key note speaker at PPNNE’s upcoming Critical Link conference. She is as compelling a speaker as she is a writer. We hope you will come see her in person.

Read any good environmental health books lately? Let me know. I am looking for more summer reading.

Posted by on June 15th, 2009 No Comments

Pondering Parabens

I’ll admit it – I’m a compulsive label reader. Lately I've noticed plenty of shampoos, cosmetics and personal care products boasting labels stating they are "Paraben Free." Why are some companies going out of there way to get rid of these parabens? There are many parabens: methyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben and ethyl paraben. Should we care when a product is Paraben Free?




According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “parabens are widely used synthetic preservatives found in most of the 25,000 cosmetics and personal care products in the Skin Deep” database. Parabens extend the shelf life of moisturizers and your shampoos and other products.

Parabens have chemicals that mimic estrogen in female bodies-- they mimic women's hormones and disrupt women's endocrine system. When the endocrine system is disrupted, the body’s ability to communicate with itself is thrown off. Some endocrine disruptors, such as parabens, have been linked to breast cancer. EWG reports “parabens were found in the breast cancer tumors of 19 of 20 women studied." According to the Breast Cancer Fund , “measurable concentrations of six different parabens have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.”

So, should we care if a product is Paraben Free? At the expense of quoting a certain someone, I’m going to answer with an enthusiastic “You Betcha’!” If possible, choose a Paraben Free product.

To learn more about estrogenic chemicals in cosmetics and how they can affect a woman’s body, check out this video made by Cornell University. MAKE-UP: Breast Cancer and the Estrogen Connection

Posted by on May 1st, 2009 No Comments