cancer risk

  1. Common chemical PFOA linked to cancer

    'Everywhere' chemical in cancer link

    Love popcorn? Whatever you do, don't make yours in the microwave -- because nuked popcorn contains a chemical you won't find listed in the ingredients.

    And it can wreck your health.

    It's not the popcorn itself or even the fake buttery spread -- although, let's face it, those are bad enough.

    It's C-8P, or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used to manufacture the heat-resistant fluoropolymers used in microwave popcorn packaging, fast food burger wrappers, nonstick cookware, and more.

    It's practically everywhere, really -- and now, a team of independent scientists says this stuff could give you cancer.

    And how we found out about this disease link is an absolute tragedy.

    Years ago, the groundwater in a region of West Virginia was contaminated with PFOA from a chemical plant that makes the stuff. But the people didn't know it. Not at first anyway -- so for years, they were getting low-but-constant levels of it from their drinking water.

    Now, they're paying the price: Scientists brought in to monitor the community say they've established a "probable link" between PFOA exposure and both kidney and testicular cancer.

    In fact, high levels of PFOA increased the risk of kidney cancer by 170 percent, according to the panel.

    Last year, the same panel found a link between the chemical and preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy) -- and there could be more revelations to come as the panel gets ready to release a series of reports on possible links between PFOA and heart disease, thyroid problems, neurological issues in children, and more.

    I'll keep you posted.

    In the meantime, work on avoiding these chemicals as much as you can, and not just PFOA. This stuff is part of an entire class of dangerous chemicals called PFCs, and they're used to make things waterproof, wrinkle-free, stain-resistant, heat-resistant, and non-stick.

    And along with cancer, they've been linked to hypothyroidism, immune system problems, reproductive disorders, and more.

    What makes this so much worse is that these chemicals stay in the body for a very long time. The half-life of PFOA -- the amount of time it takes for half of the original amount to leave the body -- is 4.4 years.

    Another PFC, PFOS, has a half-life of nine years.

    Clearly, a little bit goes a very long way.

    Since they're in everything, they're not easy to avoid -- so let me get you started: You can pop ordinary popcorn kernels in your microwave using nothing more than a plain brown paper lunch bag.

    You don't even need oil.

    It's cheap, easy, and every bit as fast. Not to mention chemical-free... and no fake buttery spread.

  2. Shooting holes in vitamin E study

    I couldn't believe what I saw on the news the other night: Diane Sawyer -- in her most solemn Evening Anchor Voice -- announced that vitamin E could increase the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent.

    Of course, I immediately popped open my computer to see what the fuss was all about it and all I can say is: Serves me right for watching the evening news!

    The study that supposedly "proves" vitamin E can boost cancer risk is being billed as a double-blind, placebo-controlled piece of research -- in other words, the gold standard of science.

    But that's not quite the whole story here -- because in this case, the "gold standard" is more like a piece of gold-colored tin.

    First, the 17 percent boost in risk is actually only a little bit beyond the margin of error. With a difference of just 1.6 cancer cases per 1,000 men per year, the association is weak at best.

    Second, the difference in risk disappeared altogether in one of the groups of men: those who took vitamin E with the mineral selenium. If the researchers really believed the study proves that E boosts the cancer risk, then they should be singing the praises of selenium for lowering it.

    Of course, that didn't happen.

    But there's a third point here that calls into question anything and everything uncovered by the study: The "gold standard" part actually ended years ago -- with no results at all!

    The researchers pulled the plug after an average of 5.5 years of followup despite the fact that 5.5 years is practically no time at all when it comes to prostate cancer, which is notoriously slow to appear and even slower to grow.

    The new numbers come from an additional 18 months of follow-up -- and during that time, the men were no longer getting vitamins OR placebos as study subjects.

    So now instead of a clear conclusion, all we have are more question marks: Did the men who were on the placebo start taking real vitamins after the study? Did the men who had been given free vitamins by the study stop? Did they keep at it but switch doses or blends? Did stopping vitamins, instead of taking them, actually case the increase in risk?

    But there's no question over vitamin E: Despite what you've heard, your body needs it -- and even the government says most of us don't get enough.

    In other words, keep taking your supplements.

  3. Common painkiller ups cancer risk

    It's the everyday pill that's in everyone's medicine chest -- and millions of people pop 'em twice a day or more in a misguided and dangerous attempt to beat life's aches and pains.
  4. Cancer's other death risk

    While the mainstream pushes toxic drugs and radioactive chemotherapy as the only options for cancer patients, a new study shows how those treatments can actually increase your death risk for decades to come.
  5. Study touts coffee as cancer fighter… but there’s a catch

    According to the research, which was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, caffeine has the ability to target and kill abnormal cells that have been damaged by UV rays.

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