Health news and analysis: for and by women

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Breast cancer and common chemicals

A May 2007 study reveals that more than 200 common chemicals, found in everyday products, can cause breast cancer in laboratory animals.

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment
"is a nonpartisan partnership of individuals and organizations concerned with the role of the environment in human and ecosystem health. CHE seeks to raise the level of scientific and public dialogue about the role of environmental contaminants and other environmental factors in many of the common diseases, disorders and conditions of our time..."

The Failure of Chemical Regulation: The Case of Mercury
By Peter Montague, From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #840, Feb. 2, 2006
Why tunafish sandwiches can make children -- and not only kids -- sick.
"Mercury pollution offers us a well-lit window into the failed system of chemical regulation in the U.S."´

Do It Yourself A worried mother discovers the secrets of pesticide testing
By Audrey Schulman, 1 Dec 2005

Three years ago, while my extended family was vacationing at my dad's cranberry farm, he mentioned that one of his fields would be sprayed that evening. There were five children under 10 in the house, and I was eight months pregnant. The field was 100 feet away. I asked my dad about the pesticides, but he said, "Don't worry. The government runs tests on the chemicals. They make sure they're safe."

From the Science News section of the CHE E – Newsletter July 18, 2005:

Europe bans chemical use in toys
BBC news, 5 July 2005
The European Parliament has voted to permanently ban the use of a group of chemicals to soften children's toys following health concerns.
Phthalates have been linked to damage to the reproductive system, and an increased risk of asthma and cancer.
They are also used in the manufacture of lubricants and solvents, and are found in cosmetics, medical equipment, paints and packaging...
A temporary ban had been in place in Europe since 1999...

Toxic elements found in infants' cord blood
Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post. 14 July 2005
In a benchmark study released today, researchers found an average of 200 industrial compounds, pollutants and other chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of newborns, including seven dangerous pesticides — some banned in the United States more than 30 years ago.
The report, Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns, by the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group, detected 287 chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborns...

Read the report's Executive Summary here: "Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns"

Rachel's Environment & Health News: an excellent e-newsletter on all aspects of health and chemical pollution from the
Environmental Research Foundation "News and resources for environmental justice."

Recently in Rachel's:

#821- Environmental Toxicants and Developmental Disabilities, July 07, 2005
..."Developmental disabilities such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia and uncontrollable aggression currently affect an estimated 12 million U.S. children under age 18 -- almost one child in five. A group of public health scientists led by Dr. Susan Koger estimates that between 3 and 25% of all developmental disabilities result from exposure to neurotoxic chemicals in the environment. These disabilities ultimately impact all aspects of human development -- our ability to learn, socialize and become productive members of society..." (click on title for full report)

#820 - Isn't It Time We Regulated Chemicals?, June 23, 2005
..."You might ask yourself, isn't the government regulating dangerous chemicals? Unfortunately, the answer is No, not in any effective way.
About 1700 new chemicals are put into commercial use each year, almost entirely untested for their effects on humans and the natural world..."
(click on title for full report)

#819 - A New Way to Inherit Environmental Harm June 9, 2005 by Tim Montague
"New research shows that the environment is more important to health than anyone had imagined. Recent information indicates that toxic effects on health can be inherited by children and grandchildren, even when there are no genetic mutations involved. These inherited changes are caused by subtle chemical influences, and this new field of scientific inquiry is called "epigenetics."... (click on title for full report)

Other articles of interest:

Nature Deficit by Richard Louv, Orion Magazine July/August 2005. Is 'nature' a cure? (Didn't we know -- or guess?)

"AS ANY PARENT OR TEACHER PROBABLY KNOWS, the number of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has skyrocketed—by 33 percent from 1997 to 2002...
A 2003 study by researchers at the New York State College of Human Ecology reached similar conclusions. Nancy Wells, the lead researcher, said that exposure to nature resulted in "profound differences" in children's attention capacities and that "green spaces may enable children to think more clearly and cope more effectively with life stress." That, in turn, could strengthen a child's attention and potentially decrease the symptoms of ADHD...

If a greener environment can play a role in curing ADHD, few if any studies have explicitly examined whether the converse is also true: that ADHD may be a set of symptoms initiated or aggravated by lack of exposure to nature. By this line of thinking, many children may benefit from medications, but the real disorder lies in the society that has disengaged children from nature and imposed on