Monday, January 25, 2010

The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act: Executive Summary


This a compelling new report put out last week by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.  It created quite a stir in the media so I wanted to be sure my readers had a chance to read it for themselves and take action.  If you are tired of the governments lack of concern regarding the dangers of toxic chemicals in our homes, speak up on behalf of chemical reform by adding your name to the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families campaign.

The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act: Executive Summary

There is growing agreement across the political spectrum that the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976 does not adequately protect Americans from toxic chemicals. In the 34 years since TSCA was enacted, the EPA has been able to require testing on just 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals produced and used in the U.S., and just five chemicals have been regulated under this law. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson has asked Congress to provide her agency with better chemical management tools for safeguarding our nation’s health.[1]




Much has changed since TSCA became law more than 30 years ago. Scientists have developed a more refined understanding of how some chemicals can cause and contribute to serious illness, including cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, neurologic diseases, and asthma.



The Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition believes that, by reforming TSCA, we can reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals, improve our nation’s health, and lower the cost of health care. This report documents some of the scientific findings and economic analysis underlying our position.



Chronic disease is on the rise

More than 30 years of environmental health studies have led to a growing consensus that chemicals are playing a role in the incidence and prevalence of many diseases and disorders in our country, including:



•Leukemia, brain cancer, and other childhood cancers, which have increased by more than 20% since 1975.[2]

•Breast cancer, which went up by 40% between 1973 and 1998.[3] While breast cancer rates have declined since 2003, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is now one in eight, up from one in ten in 1973.[4]

•Asthma, which approximately doubled in prevalence between 1980 and 1995 and has stayed at the elevated rate.[5][6]

•Difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy affected 40% more women in 2002 than in 1982. The incidence of reported difficulty has almost doubled in younger women, ages 18–25.[7][8][9]

•The birth defect resulting in undescended testes, which has increased 200% between 1970 and 1993.[10]

•Autism, the diagnosis of which has increased more than 10 times in the last 15 years.[11]

The health and economic benefits of reforming TSCA

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 133 million people in the U.S.—almost half of all Americans—are now living with these and other chronic diseases and conditions, which now account for 70% of deaths and 75% of U.S. health care costs.[12]



Estimates of the proportion of the disease burden that can be attributed to chemicals vary widely, ranging from 1% of all disease[13] to 5% of childhood cancer[14] to 10% of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and neurodevelopmental deficits[15] to 30% of childhood asthma.[14] Whatever the actual contribution, effective chemical policy reform will incorporate the last 30 years of science to reduce the chemical exposures that contribute to the rising incidence of chronic disease. And any decline in the incidence of chronic diseases can also be expected to bring health care cost savings. Even if chemical policy reform leads to reductions in toxic chemical exposures that translate into just a tenth of one percent reduction of health care costs, it would save the U.S. health care system an estimated $5 billion every year.



The U.S. now spends over $7,000 per person per year directly on health care.[12] This sum does not include the many other kinds of costs, such as the costs of raising a child with a severe learning disability or coping with a young mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. Chemical policy reform holds the promise of reducing the economic, social and personal costs of chronic disease by creating a more healthy future for all Americans.

For more information and to take action now, please visit Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families.

Citations:


1.^U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, “EPA Administrator Jackson Unveils New Administration Framework for Chemical Management Reform in the United States,” http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/D07993FDCF801C-2285257640005D27A6 (accessed November 8, 2009)

2.^Tracey J. Woodruff, et al., America’s Children and the Environment, (Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2008)

3.^Holly L. Howe, et al., “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer (1973 through 1998), Featuring Cancers with Recent Increasing Trends,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 93, no. 11 (June 2001): 824–42

4.^Janet Gray, ed, State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment, (San Francisco: Breast Cancer Fund, 2008)

5.^Tracey J. Woodruff, et al., “Trends in Environmentally Related Childhood Illnesses,” Pediatrics, 113, no. 4 (April 2004): 1133– 1140

6.^Jeanne E. Moorman, et al., “National Surveillance for Asthma, United States 1980–2004,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5608a1.htm (November 1, 2009)

7.^Anjani Chandra and Elizabeth Hervey Stephen, “Impaired Fecundity in the United States: 1982–1995,” Family Planning Perspectives, 30, no 1, (1998): 34–42

8.^Anjani Chandra, et al., “Fertility, Family Planning and Reproductive Health of US Women: Data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth,” Vital and Health Statistics, 23, no. 25 (2005)

9.^Kate Brett, “Fecundity in 2002 National Survey of Family Growth Women 15–24 Years of Age”, Hyattsville, MD, National Center for Health Statistics (2008)

10.^Leonard J. Paulozzi, “International Trends in Rates of Hypospadias and Cryptorchidism,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 107, no. 4, (1999): 297–302

11.^National Institute of Mental Health, “NIMH’s Response to New Autism Prevalence Estimate,” http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/updates/2009/nimhs-response-tonew-autism-prevalence-estimate.shtml (November 4, 2009)

12.^ abNational Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, The Power of Prevention: Chronic Disease...the Public Health Challenge of the 21st Century, (Washington, DC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2009)

13.^Commission of the European Communities, “Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council Concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restrictions of Chemicals (REACH), establishing European Chemicals Agency and Amending Directive 1999/45/EC and Regulation (EC) on Persistent Organic Pollutants: Extended Impact Assessment.” (October 29, 2003): 30

14.^ abPhilip J. Landrigan, et al., “Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities,” Environmental Health Perspectives, 110, No. 7 (July 2002): 721–8

15.^Tom Muir and Mike Zegarac, “Societal Costs of Exposure to Toxic Substances: Economic and Health Costs of Four Case Studies That Are Candidates for Environmental Causation,” Environmental Health Perspectives Supplements, 109, No. S6 (December 2001): 885–903

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Health Benefits of a Good Laugh


Watch Out!  It's Contagious!
 A joke can be good in more ways than one.  Laughter is actually powerful medicine that my even help prevent heart attacks, according to a study performed by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Their study evaluated healthy individuals and people with heart disease.  They found that the people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations than their healthy counterparts of the same age.  Humor alleviates stress and tension, and patients with mental stress often have other impairments of their blood vessel linings.  The cardiologists speculate that the resulting inflammatory reactions may lead to a fat and cholesterol buildup in the arteries and ultimately to heart disease.

The benefits of laughter extend far beyond the heart, too.  Laughter releases endorphins, causing a feeling of elation.  Laughter also increases blood oxygen levels, which is beneficial for healing, improving circulation and easing headaches.  Hearty laughter massages the heart, lungs and digestive system.


For a healthy heart, body and soul, eat right, exercise and...laugh!


Information from HAP Wise Woman

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Required, Desired, Inspired!




This blog post is from my friend and business associate, Jennifer Harvey.  She has some wonderful insights about setting daily goals that I thought you might enjoy.  Jennifer also makes a plug for exercise and improving health.  If I can help you in those areas, please let me know.  Happy New Year!


My 2010 mantra – Required, Desired, Inspired!

I was on the elliptical the other day. It took all I had just to get on the darn thing. I just was not in the mood. I said to myself just get 15 minutes in. That’s all I require today – just 15 minutes. I can do that. About 10 minutes in I felt better and felt I could make it more than just the 5 minutes I had required of myself. So I reset my expectations to 18 minutes and increased my pace. Ah, I can make it past my required time to my new desired time I thought. At 17 minutes I was feeling inspired and felt I could push it up a notch and go to 20 minutes. I did it. I took that work out from required to inspired.

I have now started setting my day with a REQUIRED goal, a DESIRED goal and an INSPIRED goal. Now the idea hear is not to make INSPIRED too easy so if I am hitting INSPIRED too regularly it’s time to make that the new REQUIRED.

Obviously I would like to push to INSPIRED as often as possible but some days I just don’t feel inspired and ‘required’ is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Everyone has their own motivation techniques. This is a new one I developed and am trying out. Since I just thought it up while working out a few days ago I felt with the new year it would be a perfect way to implement this new plan.

I’m not really setting a New Year’s resolution. I’m already on a path of improving my health by exercising and making better food choices. All I want to do is stay on the path, take each day as it comes and make time to enjoy the journey.

Exercise makes me feel great mentally and physically. It improves my appearance and therefore, self esteem. It relieves stress and releases toxins from the body. I can enjoy the occasional bad food choices without guilt because I know I can burn it off through exercise. I believe exercise is the magic bullet, the key to long lasting health and happiness.

I will turn 40 in 2010 and my oldest son will graduate from high school and start college. It’s going to be a big year and I can’t wait.

Bring it on!

Jennifer can be reached at Get Up Get Moving