Originally published in July 2002 icon, updated in Issue 4 2005 icon
Like diet, another enormous subject. Don't let anyone try to fool you. Cancer has not been around since time immemorial. The American's have just completed a study of 7500 years of skeletons in Croatia and found cancer present only in the last 100 years.
1 million tonnes of chemicals were produced in the world in the 1940's. Now this figure is 400 million tonnes. We have run two previous articles 'Toxic Toiletries' and 'As Safe as Houses' in icon. But, don't take our word for all this. 'Chapter 7' is an EU initiative, somewhat slower to hit your high street than the new vitamin laws. None-the-less, it seeks to ban certain dangerous chemical toxins from your everyday lives. Many are in the panel attached.
It is important to say, right up front, that it is too easy to focus on the outside world as a cause of our ills. True farmers get more multiple myeloma and leukaemias in Australia; they themselves often believe this is self-inflicted probably from the pesticides they spray.
X rays, CT scans, radiotherapy, force fields around masts and pylons have all been linked to increased rates of cancer. Fault lines running through your home can cause problems, as can homes lying over uranium-rich rocks (which allow radon to bubble up through the house). Radon in the US is an accepted cause of lung cancer.
Some statistics remain mysteries. The recent International Conference on Leukaemia reported child leukaemia rates at 4 times normal in children living near garage forecourts!
Meanwhile, drugs themselves (I mean the legalised kind!) are not all good. Many have side effects and many of those reduce the immune system. We've had several people with cancer ring the office and they've been on drugs for a good number of years that were supposed to be prescribed for no more than 2 or 3. In one case a woman who developed oesophageal cancer had been taking a stomach drug for 10 years. There were warnings in pack and on the Internet that it should be taken for no more than the three months!
My 7 year old son after a week of stomach pain and screaming was rushed to hospital. Their verdict? Possible stomach cancer or IBS, and they wanted to operate. We took him to David Broom in Ringwood, Hampshire. A nutritionist with a Vega machine, David tested him and rang me asking, '"has he had a lot of vaccinations lately?"
The FDA observed that 84 of the top 100 US vaccines used mercury as a carrier - 5 years on and the number is still 75
Apparently David had detected high mercury levels in Ben. Sure enough he had. A short regime of selenium and he was fine again. A couple of years ago the FDA observed that 84 of the top 100 US vaccines used mercury as a carrier; they asked manufacturers, nicely, to remove it. 5 years on and the number is still 75.
But, without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest contributors of toxins to our bodies are the ones we bring home ourselves. The Cancer Prevention Coalition in the US have reported that the average US home is considerably more toxic than the centre of Times Square, in New York. The American Academy of Science has shown that a woman staying at home has 40 per cent more toxins in her blood than her sister who goes out to work. Well, they have laws in factories, but at home you are free to clean and polish to your heart's content!
Household products, cleaning products, toiletries, make-up, perfumes these are the self-inflicted toxins, along with the pesticides we might spray on our roses and lawns, even the road lead we bring in on our shoes. It all makes for an in-home cocktail of chemicals we can do without.
Some chemicals are harmless. Some are toxic to our nervous systems. Some to our DNA itself. Others mess up our endocrine system, especially those that add to our 'oestrogen pool' in our bodies. And it is this area we shall concentrate on in this article.
Most chemicals are approved by Governments for usage in parts per million. But hormones, which are amazingly powerful naturally occurring substances in your body, are found at levels of parts per trillion. If hormones work at that level, imagine the effects of toxic chemicals more than 100 times greater in volume!!!
The Royal Commission in 2003 concluded that we commonly come into contact with 4000 ingredients, most of which were toxic and many carcinogenic. The World Wild Life Fund looked for 78 particularly nasty chemicals, in us all and found 77 including known poisons like DDT (well, you see, it is not actually banned. It is still made in the West and used by third world countries on the foods that may end up in your local supermarket. Only recently the FSA concluded that 'safe' toxin levels were being exceeded on our foods, especially on imported foods). On average we have 27 in each of us.
Of 80 common toxic ingredients, our children have 75, but our parents have just 56
A second study showed that of 80 common toxic ingredients, our children have 75, but our parents have just 56. ITS GETTING WORSE!
Below is an excerpt from 'Everything You Need To Know To Help You Beat Cancer'. It just tells you of a few of the problems with your toiletries and make up:
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulphate are proven skin irritants, the latter less so. The former can damage eyes and whilst not carcinogenic themselves, they can cause chemical interaction with other ingredients. The latter can form nitrosamines by reaction with other ingredients. Of most significance is that SLS increases the permeability of the skin by up to 40 per cent, allowing more chemical toxins from other sources into the body. These two compounds are regularly found in soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and body washes.
Many toothpastes contain sodium fluoride, which in concentrated form is more normally associated with rat poison. All toothpaste packs in the USA carry warnings. Read the following carefully: 'As in all fluoride toothpastes, keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional assistance or contact a poison control center immediately.' .Only recently we covered the research from Harvard Medical school that showed fluoride was linked to bone cancer, in the 10-18 age group especially boys.
Many toothpastes also contain triclosan, which can produce toxic dioxins when in contact with water. In September 2005, our magazine ran research findings from Virginia showing with chlorinated water triclosan released chloroform.
Formaldehyde can appear under about 40 different names and guises, for example methyl aldehyde. It is commonly found in shampoos, nail varnishes and moisturisers. It is banned in Sweden and Japan. No wonder. In December 2003 we carried an article linking it to leukaemia and in January 2004, to lung cancer.
Talc or talcum powder has a similar formula to asbestos. Baby products warn on the bottle that the powder should not be breathed; yet it is in many female face powders, blushers and mascaras. It has even been linked to ovarian cancer and is still to this day used on the occasional brand of condoms.
It is the sister product to commercial
Propylene Glycol is used for skin 'glide', giving the rich, luxuriant feeling. It is frequently found in skin moisturisers, after sun, face creams and even baby wipes. It is the sister product to commercial anti-freeze. Workers handling it in factories must use protective clothing and gloves because it burns the skin in high concentration!
Dark hair dyes contain paraphenylene diamine, which can cause cancer in rats after exposure to hydrogen peroxide. They also contain hydrogen peroxide! And ammonia, a basic toxin. A number of neck, head, bladder and kidney cancers have been linked to these dyes.
Nail varnishes and cleaners may well contain xylene, formaldehyde and toluene and these ingredients have a long list of associated risks like liver damage, DNA damage, neurotoxins and skin and respiratory irritation. Toulene also affects the endocrine system and is an oestrogen mimic. You may be surprised to learn that your nails are actually porous so these chemicals can easily be absorbed by the body. It's like having ten little hormone mimic patches - or twenty if you've done your toes too.
Lipstick may contain isopropyl alcohol, which damages DNA, and the colourings can involve titanium, zinc or aluminium - the latter being implicated in Alzheimer's. Worse even today the occasional lipstick still uses lead. All is well because you are not likely to eat your lipstick, are you?? Think again. A woman who applies just two coats a day, across a lifetime, will ingest 20 kilos of lipstick!
Perfume and perfumed products can be a mixture of over 100 different ingredients none of which needs to be named on pack, yet several are potent endocrine system disrupters. We have carried articles on Toluene, DEHP, 4-nonyphenol - even phthalates, produced depending on the plasticisers used in plastic bottled products, and bisphenol A, produced typically with certain plastic inner liners of cans. All are endocrine disrupters and some produce chemicals which mimic the action of oestrogen in the body, even causing oestradiol production and chromosomal damage according to research we have carried.
The Oestrogen Phenomenon
Many doctors faced with women at menopause fearful of hot flushes and osteoporosis recommended HRT to ward off the loss of oestrogen at menopause. As we have shown before in icon, this is erroneous thinking. Oestrogen levels have never been higher in the history of man-, or woman-kind.
Oestrogen levels have never been higher in the history of man-, or woman-kind
Mixed synthetic oestrogen/ progesterone HRT was shown to double the risk of breast cancer in the US trials. (The US Women's Health Initiative). In the same study oestrogen-only HRT increased risk by 27 per cent whilst in the UK, CRUK's Million Women study reported a figure of 26 per cent overall). Sadly we knew this all along. In 1995 the Boston Nurses Study (18 years, 121,000 women) came up with roughly the same figure: 26 per cent.
The German Health minister last year dubbed HRT, 'the new thalidomide', and Cancer Research UK now says that risk outweighs benefits.
Cancer Research UK has also produced risk figures for the contraceptive pill and breast cancer.
Ever taken: + 26 per cent
Take in 30's: + 58 per cent
Take in 40's: + 144 per cent
And that's just breast cancer; both the pill and HRT have been linked to other cancers we well.
The Many Sources Of 'Oestrogen'
Each of us, male and female, makes this 'female' hormone. For example, fat makes steroids makes oestrogen. Fat 55-year-old males have been shown to have higher oestrogen levels than their thin wives. Fat women post menopause have been shown to have higher levels than even thin pre-menopausal women!
If you are in a major city a with recycled water you may also be drinking it, thanks to ladies on HRT or the pill 'peeing' into the water system and ineffectual filtering systems. Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland has shown the effect of oestrogen in the water supplies, on fish. The males don't work quite as well as they might.
Human sperm counts have declined 50 per cent in the last 50 years in the West
But we know, don't we, that human sperm counts, have declined 50 per cent in the last 50 years in the West? What's the surprise?
By far the biggest increase in our oestrogen pools has come through the ubiquity of chemicals that mimic the action of oestrogen. Some pesticides do this; some volatile organic carbons in household and cleaning products do this. Phthalates, which leach from certain plasticisers used in plastic bottles (from drinking water to hair shampoos) do this. Toluene, for example found in nail polishes and perfumes, does this.
Last year we covered Swedish research that showed 75 per cent of ordinary, everyday perfumed products used on the body, produced DEHP once in the blood stream and DEHP is a very powerful oestrogen mimic. US research showed it was so powerful in research with pregnant women 11 per cent of male offspring born to mothers with high DEHP levels had genital deficiency. Another study concluded some testicular cancers can start in the womb, this way.
To be totally safe, never, ever use perfumed products. Never, ever use perfume, aftershave, cologne etc directly on your skin.
Lest you think this is all exaggeration, we now turn to Dr Ana Soto of Tuft's, probably the leading expert in this field in the US.
She took 10 such oestrogen mimics, but all as normal product ingredients at safe levels as designated by the US Government. In studies with rats she got a full oestrogen response, the sort of effect you might see from the most potent form of oestrogen, oestradiol. And that was just 10 ingredients. How many more do you expose yourself to each week in your own home? Probably hundreds. Men and women. Now in icon (Cancer Watch; September 2004) we've covered mimics and their proven and similar effects in humans.
Oestrogen and Cancer
Oestrogens bind to cell receptor sites: the most potent oestrogen is oestradiol
We know that oestrogens bind to cell receptor sites: the most potent oestrogen is oestradiol. It can lower the oxygen levels in the cell by 40 per cent. It can cause the transport systems across the cell membrane to malfunction; it can poison the cell and even help the spread of the cancer message.
What we also know is that female cancers can be oestrogen driven. E.g. breast, endometrial, ovarian.
But then Birmingham University in 2001 showed that colon cancer was driven by localised oestrogen. US research shows a girl lying in the sun, if she's on the oestrogen contraceptive pill, has twice the risk of melanoma of her twin whose not on the pill and lying next to her. So sunshine is not the issue per se: Pre-sensitisation is.
And since October 2003 (Dr Thomson Houston, Texas) we have known that localised oestrogen takes nice safe testosterone and turns it into nasty DHT, which in turn causes prostrate cancer.
Oh, and we could mention brain tumours, testicular cancer and stomach cancer. In a previous issue we reported US research showing some lung cancers were oestrogen driven. In men and women.
In icon we have covered the prime theory of how this all happens.
Dr Wang and his team at Columbia University recently produced a paper entitled, 'Breakthrough; Revolutionary Thinking on Cancer'. In it (they looked at stomach cancer, but are going on to look at others) they said their research showed clearly that:
In the stomach firstly you get inflammation in the stomach wall.
Normally, stem cells leave the bone marrow to rush to the site and convert to more stomach-lining cells, and heal it. Except in cancer, they don't convert.
What are stem cells? Let's keep it simple. When the egg is fertilised in the womb the original embryo cell grows like topsy for 50 or so days. This 'blob' of cells then slows down and becomes fingers, eyes, liver etc. For 'blob' of cells read stem cells. Not 100 per cent accurate but it will do!
We all have stem cells all over our bodies, ready to convert and replace eye cells, liver cells, lung cells etc as required at any age.
Wang concluded that the stem cells, under the effects of oestrogen, don't convert but stay as stem cells
Wang concluded that the stem cells, under the effects of oestrogen don't convert, but stay as stem cells growing like topsy and, bingo, you have cancer.
Not bad, but a mere 99 years late. The theory was first expounded by Dr John Beard, an embryologist in Edinburgh in 1906. He said that stem cells grew unchecked under the effects of oestrogen. But around day 50-56 he noticed the foetus, just as the stem cells started converting to normal cells, had digestive, or pancreatic enzymes, in their blood. Since the food from mum comes pre-processed, he hypothesised that the digestive/pancreatic enzymes somehow switched over the stem cells into normality.
Smoking and Sunshine
We cannot print an article on prevention or possible causes in icon without mention of these two. Cancer Research UK recently sent out a press release saying that to avoid cancer your should avoid smoking (true) and stay out of the sun (not true).
Smoking is linked to all manner of cancers. It may surprise you to know that colon cancer, breast cancer, ovarian and prostrate, not just lung cancer, have had links proven. Smoking, if nothing else, reduces the blood oxygen levels and oxygen is the enemy of the cancer cell. Cancer cells thrive in its absence.
Sunshine is the interesting one. Rates of skin cancer have grown enormously, melanoma too. And clearly, taking white bodies from the depths of a British winter to expose them to an equatorial sun is not clever. But it's just not as simple as that.
Firstly, there is the 'sun belt' in the US, a strip of America where they have fewer cancers. This has been supported by several recent studies covered in icon showing people living in the sun have less cancers. Then there are several recent studies about the ability of sunshine to increase vitamin D levels in the body and, with that, huge protection benefits. All readers of this article should read the article on vitamin D on this web site and consider supplementation if they cannot get into the sun. Sunshine is Sensational for beating cancer. It's Burning that's Bad.
Life is not as simple as people are suggesting
Then there comes research on (and the subsequent banning of) sun cream ingredients such as PABA in Sweden and studies like the one above on pre-sensitisation by the oestrogen contraceptive pill, and suddenly life is not as simple as people are suggesting.
Oestrogen may drive stem cells to reproduce vigorously. And this may turn to cancer.
Thus the oestrogen pool (made up of our own hormones, plus synthetic 'mimics') could drive this process.
It's as good a theory as any for the growth of male cancers like prostrate. There are of course simple steps you can take to get oestrogen and its mimics out of your life. We turned a previous article from icon, 'Oestrogen-the killer in our midst', into a small book with seven important recommendations for prevention, and action around your doctor's treatment.
Interestingly the new breed of breast cancer drugs called aromatase inhibitors acts to cut oestrogen levels in the body. One does wonder why men with prostate cancer are given oestrogen injections since the Thomson research (it was after all supported by several studies in Singapore and Australia) on prostrate cancer. Wouldn't the more logical approach be to curb the localised oestrogen rather than a male's natural testosterone especially since testosterone levels are known to decline after the age of 50 or so in men anyway? Ah, but then I was always 'too logical'.