Race for the Cure, Rally for Prevention
Is cancer almost inevitable? According to the National Cancer Institute, about 41% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, and approximately 21% will die from it. As cancer affects millions of American families, it also adds billions of dollars to our nation’s health care bill.
Cancer in childhood is quite rare compared with cancer in adults, but, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it is still the second most common cause of death for Americans under the age of 20. Thanks to improved treatment options, the mortality of children with cancer has decreased. However, the percentage of children who are diagnosed with leukemia, brain and other cancers is actually increasing—see the chart below.
What is causing this upward trend? There is growing scientific literature that links chemical exposures to six categories of chronic conditions, including certain types of cancer. In fact, the American Nurses Association recently partnered with the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, who work to create the foundation for a sound and comprehensive chemicals policy that protects public health and the environment.
While it may be impossible to avoid all exposure to chemicals in our modern world, being aware of their implications and making small lifestyle changes can have enormous benefits. While many products may contain only small amounts of toxic chemicals, chronic exposure may have significant health consequences. For tips on avoiding toxic chemicals at home and at work, click here.
Use your power as a nurse, mother, community member, or friend to limit the chemicals in our cleaners, children’s toys, cosmetics, and other products. Read up on Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) reform, which will require that companies prove that their products are safe, rather than waiting decades to discover that they are not. To communicate with your elected officials, click here.
What changes can you make to reduce your family’s chemical exposure? Share your story here.
-Charlotte Wallace, RN