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GREEN TIP: October is breast cancer awareness month. According to a report by the World Cancer Research Breast Cancer 2010 ReportFund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), a significant amount of cases (a minimum of 38%) could be prevented if we followed a few recommendations that were confirmed during their research.

None of these recommendations should be a big surprise. They are all things we know are building blocks of a healthy lifestyle… common sense. The choice is ours. To implement these recommendations into our daily lives or to ignore them. Especially when 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime and there are 230,000 new invasive breast cancer cases discovered each year.

Here are a quick look at some of the Cancer Prevention Recommendations from the report:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Convincing evidence shows that weight gain and obesity increases the risk of a number of cancers, including bowel and breast cancer. Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular physical activity to help keep your risk lower.
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and limit your consumption of energy-dense foods (foods high in fats and/or added sugars and/or low in fiber). Translation: avoid process foods, soda and juices and eat whole foods.
  • Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans. Organic whole foods Bras on Broadway 2013reduce the risk of breast cancer by modulating estrogen, a chemical that’s native to our bodies but a frequent precursor to cancer when present in the wrong amounts. For example, cruciferous vegetables—such as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and collard greens—contain a compound that changes how estrogen is metabolized, making the body’s own estrogen less likely to promote cancer. Source:
  • Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).

And always remember do not smoke or chew tobacco.

For the complete list of recommendations and the full report, visit

What’s not covered in these recommendations, but we know are also contributing factors to cancer and other chronic diseases, are toxic chemicals. With more scientific evidence emerging all the time, it’s clear that the chemicals in our environment play a role in altering our biological processes. It’s also clear that our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation are connected to our breast cancer risk (and other cancers and diseases but this month we’re focusing on breast cancer).

One big culprit when it comes to toxic chemicals is our personal care products.

In the U.S., major loopholes in federal law allow the cosmetics industry to put thousands of synthetic chemicals into personal care products, even if those chemicals are linked to cancer, infertility or birth defects. At the same time as untested chemicals have been steadily introduced into our environment, breast cancer incidence has risen dramatically. Source: Breast Cancer Fund

Following are some of the chemicals commonly found in our personal care products and how they impact our health:

Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in cosmetics like nail polish and in synthetic fragrance—both perfumes and fragrance ingredients in other cosmetic products. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogens in cell culture systems. This class of chemicals has been linked to hormone disruption, which can affect development and fertility. Although some phthalates are being phased out of cosmetics under consumer pressure, diethyl phthalate (DEP) is still used in many products, including fragrance. In 2010, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found DEP in 12 of 17 fragrance products tested for their report, “Not So Sexy.” Product tests conducted by Consumer Reports ShopSmart magazine in January 2007 found the phthalates DEP and DEHP (which is banned in Europe) in each of eight popular perfumes tested. DEP is a ubiquitous pollutant of the human body, found in 97 percent of Americans tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Recent epidemiological studies have associated DEP with a range of health problems, including sperm damage in men. Most fragrances don’t list phthalates on the label, but hide them under the term, “fragrance.”

Triclosan: Triclosan is used in antibacterial soaps, deodorants and toothpastes to limit the growth of bacteria and mold. It is a common antimicrobial agent that accumulates in our bodies and has been linked to hormone disruption and the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and antibacterial products. The chemical, which is classified as a pesticide, can affect the body’s hormone systems—especially thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism—and may disrupt normal breast development. Along with its negative health effects, triclosan also impacts the environment, ending up in lakes, rivers and other water sources, where it is toxic to aquatic life.

To get the full list of chemicals you should avoid, visit

To find out what is in the personal care products you and your family use every day, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database at

If you haven’t already, watching Annie Leonard’s, The Story of Cosmetics is a must see. She has an excellent way of getting to the heart of an issue in a really disarming manner. “Toxins in, toxins out.” To view, visit

Locally, you can donate to Bras on Broadway, a fundraiser where every dollar donated stays in our region to help those who are fighting breast cancer. To find out more, visit

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Breast Cancer Fund

The Breast Cancer Fund works to connect the dots between breast cancer and exposures to chemicals and radiation in our everyday environments.

They translate the growing body of scientific evidence linking breast cancer and environmental exposures into public education and advocacy campaigns that protect our health and reduce breast cancer risk.

They help transform how our society thinks about and uses chemicals and radiation, with the goal of preventing breast cancer and sustaining health and life.

They find practical solutions so that our children, grandchildren and planet can thrive.

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately1220pm (central) every Wednesday at or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Look for sustainable ways to enjoy your summer.

Here are some simple ways to enjoy your summer while doing something good for the environment:

  • Eat local and organic. Purchase local groceries from your farmers’ market, sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program or choose local food at the grocery store. You’ll be supporting local farmers and lessening transportation energy.
  • When landscaping, plant native plants. According to Wild Ones,

Native plants have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years. They are vigorous and hardy, so can survive winter cold and summer heat. Once established, they require no irrigation or fertilization. They are resistant to most pests and diseases. Thus, native plants suit today’s interest in “low-maintenance” gardening and landscaping.

Americans spend $27 billion a year on lawn care, 10 times more than we spend on school textbooks. The average lawn requires 9000 gallons of water per week, and 5-10 pounds of fertilizer per year, more than the entire country of India uses for its food crops. With natural landscaping many of these costs are weeded out. Best of all, these landscapes demand less routine maintance so people can spend more time enjoying and feeling connected to the wonders of nature. Simply stated, natural landscaping is designed to work with, rather than against, nature.

  • Get a rain barrel and use the water for your garden. A rain barrel on a 2000 sq. ft. home can capture as much as 36,000 gallons of water a year.
  • Make your yard a pesticide-free haven for birds. Hang up a bird feeder, build a bird house.
  • Wash your car at a car wash. Washing your car in the driveway sends soaps, oils, toxic metals and chemicals into nearby waterways and is harmful for downstream drinking water. Use a commercial car wash instead. They are required to send water to the sewer system for treatment before being released.
  • Avoid purchasing new stuff. Instead check out a garage sale. You’ll be reusing and saving money at the same time.
  • Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bike or walk whenever possible. You’ll be doing something good for your body, the environment and your wallet.
  • Avoid too much harmful UV radiation. The best defenses are protective clothes, shade and timing. Read these tips from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) before applying sunscreen:
    • Don’t get burned. Red, sore, blistered (then peeling) skin is a clear sign you’ve gotten far too much sun. Sunburn increases skin cancer risk – keep your guard up!
    • Wear clothes. Shirts, hats, shorts and pants shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays – and don’t coat your skin with goop. A long-sleeved surf shirt is a good start.
    • Find shade – or make it. Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade – they lack tanning pigments (melanin) to protect their skin.
    • Plan around the sun. If your schedule is flexible, go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. UV radiation peaks at midday, when the sun is directly overhead.
    • Sunglasses are essential. Not just a fashion accessory, sunglasses protect your eyes from UV radiation, a cause of cataracts.

For more sun safety tips, visit the EWG’s 2011 Sunscreen Report

  • Put up a clothes line and use it.
  • Replace parts of your lawn with no mow grass or groundcovers and mulch around plants to cut down on evaporation.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week: is dedicated to moving native plants and naturescaping into mainstream landscaping practices. The sites contains:

  • Directories for local nurseries, community services and professionals
  • A detailed and engaging tutorial with an introduction, step-by-step descriptions of how to create a native plant landscape, and examples
  • Regional native plant lists
  • Recommended books for each region of the country

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: If you haven’t read the latest report from the President’s Cancer Panel click on and go to Annual Report for 2008 – 2009.

The report was published last Thursday and some of the highlights are:

  • The Panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated. With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread.
  • Most also are unaware that children are far more vulnerable to environmental toxins and radiation than adults.
  • The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures (to environmental toxins).
  • Pesticides (insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides) approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) contain nearly 900 active ingredients, many of which are toxic. Many of the solvents, fillers, and other chemicals listed as inert ingredients on pesticide labels also are toxic, but are not required to be tested for their potential to cause chronic diseases such as cancer.
  • Many known carcinogens first identified through studies of industrial and agricultural occupational exposures have since found their way into soil, air, water and numerous consumer products.
  • Some toxins have adverse effects not only on those exposed directly (include in utero), but on the offspring of exposed individuals.
  • The Panel urges the President most strongly to use the power of his office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.

This report echos everything I’ve been writing about for years. I’m feeling extremely hopeful about the President’s Cancer Panel findings in that it opens up this dialogue at a level that should make people sit up and take notice. No longer can we blindly use toxic chemicals around children. I’m also curious to see what the ramifications of this report will be.

Now armed with this information, we need to stand up and demand that safer alternatives be used in our communities. We all deserve to live free of toxic chemicals, especially our children. Contact your school, ask what cleaning products are being used around your children. Contact your park district, ask what kind of pesticides are being used around our children. Let your voice be heard.

A few great resources to help you arm yourself with knowledge (including the aforementioned report):

  • Healthy Child Healthy World: They are leading a movement that educates parents, supports protective policies, and engages communities to make responsible decisions, simple everyday choices, and well-informed lifestyle improvements to create healthy environments where children and families can flourish.
  • The Environmental Working Group (EWG): Their mission is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. Their number one organizational goal is to protect the most vulnerable segments of the human population—children, babies, and infants in the womb—from health problems attributed to a wide array of toxic contaminants.
  • The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ): see below

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ)
CHEJ’s overarching goal has consistently been to prevent harm—particularly among vulnerable populations such as children. If a safer process, material or product exists it should be used. They believe that everyone, regardless of income, race, religion, or occupation, has a right to live, work, learn, play and pray in a healthy community.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1020am (CDT) every Wednesday at

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Empty your bathroom cabinets and take a look at the labels on your personal care products.  Are you are using the safest ingredients for you and your family?

As I was cleaning the bathroom the other day using my favorite half a lemon filled with baking soda on the bathtub, I casually glanced at the ingredients in my favorite shampoo/body wash combo.  Well, maybe I wasn’t very casual about it.  I’ve been putting it off for years.  I love my Philosophy Amazing Grace shampoo/body wash.  It smells so amazing, just like the name promises.  And other people tell me I smell amazing when I use it, that’s a nice plus.  But I had a sneaking suspicion that all that amazing wasn’t too great for me. 

When my first daughter was very little, I started to see a lot of news about parabens and their link to breast cancer.  An article that really caught my attention was Cosmetics, Parabens, and Breast Cancer by Rita Arditti.  The article explained that “English researchers had identified parabens in samples
of breast tumors.  Parabens (alkyl esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid) are widely used as antimicrobial preservatives in thousands of cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceutical products and food. There are six commonly used forms (Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, p-Propylparaben, Isobutylparaben, n-Butylparaben and Benzylparaben) and it is estimated that they are used in at least 13,200 cosmetics products.

According to the lead researcher of the recent study, Philippa Darbre, an oncology expert at the University of Reading (Scotland), “the chemical form of the parabens found in 18 of the 20 tumors tested indicated that they originated from something applied to the skin, the most likely candidates being deodorants, antiperspirants, creams or body sprays.” 

I checked the products I had been using to pamper my little baby’s body and found to my horror they all contained parabens.  I quickly found new products for her.

I also looked at my husband’s array of personal products and devised a six-phased plan in an attempt to rid him of unhealthy products.  I am now in phase five.  He is stubbornly hanging on to his aluminum-laden antiperspirant . . . as if I have a right to point fingers.

Back to my Amazing Grace shampoo/body wash.  I slowly went through the list of unpronounceable ingredients – no parabens!  But it does contain sodium laureth sulfate and the ubiquitous “fragrance.”  I know that’s not good. 

Finally, the ultimate in reliable research: The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.  It scores a 5 which means it’s moderately hazardous on a scale of 0 to 10.  But it also has an 86% data gap.  Which means that 86% of the ingredients in my beloved Amazing Grace have unknown safety data.  Bottom line, it’s probably not too good for me.  Would I let my two little girls use it?  Absolutely not!

And would I let my husband use it?  No, but he doesn’t use anything that’s pink or has the word “grace” in it.

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