My children recognize "the look," and if they were still living at home, they would be heading for the recesses of their rooms or the safety of somewhere else...anywhere out of the reach of Mom's voice and the need for soldiers in her army. I am on a mission, and I am enlisting "volunteers." I recognize that I have a compulsive personality, and that I am like a dog with a new bone when I find a project, a problem to solve, a fact that needs (in my opinion) to be known. A problem/question that has been niggling and whining in the back of my mind for a number of years is "where is all this cancer coming from?" Growing up in a small town, I knew almost everyone; and, I swear, I knew only one woman of my mother's generation who had breast cancer. Now, among my group of nine friends from that same town, four have had malignancies in the breast. You don't have to be unusually perceptive to see that these numbers are striking. My uneducated, purely intuitive response to the question was that we must be eating, drinking, applying, or inhaling some bad, bad things; but I didn't have a clue how to sort out fact from fiction, old wives tale from science, in trying to determine what to avoid in the environment. The task was just too daunting. However, I had decided that I would begin to "strike at the darkness" by eating organic vegetables and meats, or at least avoid eating the really pesticide/preservative/hormone-heavy ones, and...just in time, I received a handout at Cancer Services listing the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen.
You know how these things happen. You hear about something in one place, then it shows up everywhere. Last night, Brian Williams on NBC NEWS quoted this same information (Dirty Dozen and Clean 15) about pesticides and food, noting that it came from the Environmental Working Group. Coincidentally, yesterday afternoon, before hearing about them from Brian, I received an email from - guess who??? - Environmental Working Group. I do not recall signing up for their notices, but I am glad I did. I have learned that this organization was founded in 1993 with the mission of using the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. A perusal of their website was impressive and frightening, but also comforting, because I think I have found the avenue to the kind of information I need for living a healthier life for the rest of my life.
I hope that everyone who reads this blog will take a look at http://www.ewg.org/ and if you only read two sections, please read the information about the Dirty Dozen and also find Preventing Cancer: Nine Practical Tips for Consumers. And one more thing, I am headed out to buy new sunscreen for myself and my family, because I learned some upsetting information about ingredients in sunscreen which could be increasing our incidence of skin cancer rather than reducing it. I also learned that many sunscreens contain synthetic estrogen which can be absorbed through the skin, and which is a big NO NO for me. Don't I just love the thought that I have been smearing estrogen on my chest all these years, thinking I was doing myself a favor? Anyway, I may have to revisit some of this information in future posts, because I am angry, angry, angry....and I need to vent. In fact, I keep hearing those famous lines from the movie "Network," "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore." I think the character also said "I'm a human being. My life has value." These lines have special meaning for me now, and I hope that, for the sake of future generations, other people will stand up and say that they are mad as hell and will not take it anymore.