I used to feel comfortable about what I do to take care of myself. That changed back around 2009; a year I began to question many things such as what is the point of healthy clean living if the environment, or food or toxic chemicals were causing early cancers in the populations born in the 1950s and 1960s?
It was 2008 two women close to me had breast cancer. Both healthy in body and mind, one in her early fifties and the other in her forties, and the year my husband discovered his late stage rectal cancer. He was 45. Not one of these three had hereditary factors for their cancer. If I ever thought that poor lifestyle habits and genetics were the likely causes of cancer, these three people blew that thought out of the water for me.
Since then, it seems to me, random occurrences of cancer have become frequent. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) is predicting an increase or a surge of 57% worldwide in the next 20 years. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists the top five cancers being prostate cancer, breast, lung, and colon and rectal cancers. Do you know someone diagnosed with any one of these early in life? I’ll bet you do.
As a society we have learned to question ingredients in our food. We know that artificial ingredients in processed food, while cheaper, are not good for our bodies. Whether we like it or not, we have learned a great deal about the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe in the last 10 years.
Still, there is more that we need to understand, such as the safety of things like soap, cosmetics, hand or face cream, deodorant, toothpaste, hair spray, shampoo, any product that projects itself as a cure or enhancement. Women and girls are the targets for cosmetic enhancers from body shapers to manicures and pedicures. Let’s not forget ink. It’s popular in recent years for men and women of all ages to alter their skin with permanent tattoos. Tattoos might be another post altogether, but for now I’ll just say I don’t trust “ink” as a safe enhancement, embedded in the skin by anyone.
Our skin is the largest organ of the human body. Its function is protection. It protects our internal organs, our skeletal and muscular systems; it supports and houses our cardio, nervous, and immunity systems. Ultraviolet rays are not the only threat to our skin. Toxins found in everyday items are just as deadly, just as carcinogenic. Over time, these things that seem mundane to us actually leave a trail in our physiology. Over time, chemicals break down the safety barrier that is our skin.
Some manufacturers and companies have taken a stand to remove carcinogens and toxic chemicals. Johnson & Johnson is one such company. The Subway franchise and their use of an unnatural ingredient was found by Vani Hari (the Food Babe), a blogger and activist. With 50,000 signatures in a petition and media glare, Subway cleaned up by removing azodicarbonamide from its breads.
I can’t help but wonder why Johnson & Johnson, Subway, and many others would originally use carcinogens or any unnatural ingredient in their food. In other cases, companies use industrial type products that just don’t belong in our bodies. P&G recently agreed to remove bits of plastic from toothpaste. Those tiny flecks of color made it easy to sell as something better, more innovative, than it was.
The FDA, while they may have standards, does not inspect or regulate in this regard. We are left to ourselves to “trust” big companies with the little details of consumer safety. The job belongs to each of us to question and seek answers for the greater good.