Obama, Romney, and Women’s Healthcare

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In this election, arguments about women’s healthcare have often focused on abortion and contraception coverage. While I agree these are important issues, I would like to share my views from the perspective of a female cancer patient. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare,” requires insurance companies to cover such preventative services as breast cancer mammography screenings every one to two years for women over 40, breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk, and annual screenings for cervical cancer. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have pledged to repeal Obamacare, meaning many women could lose these important benefits from their paid insurance plans.

Even worse is the Republican plan, or lack thereof, for the many women currently without coverage. When money is tight, women are often the family members who go uncovered because we are often charged as much as three times the insurance rates of men (a problem Obamacare resolves as of 2014). I know many hard-working women — single and married — who are self-employed or work jobs that offer no insurance coverage and who can’t afford to pay for coverage themselves. Many married women whose spouse has a good health insurance policy still go uncovered because of the high cost of adding family coverage. Obamacare will make more options available to ALL women when the program goes into full force in 2014. But meanwhile, women without coverage need Planned Parenthood….

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What’s the Big Deal about Asbestos?

March 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Asbestos, Blog, Cancer, Front Page, Health, Slideshow

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They sound so harmless: tiny mineral fibers, interspersed throughout rock deposits, mined for their natural insulating qualities. Just how bad can these asbestos fibers be?

Just ask any of the 3,000 Americans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma in any given year – or any of the thousands of others diagnosed with different asbestos-related diseases: Asbestos is much more dangerous than it sounds….

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Americans Are Now Fatter and Dying Younger

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A recent report (Thursday, December 9, 2010) published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed what many of us in the preventive medicine circles have feared: Americans are now dying at a younger age.

This is the third report in the last few years that indicates life expectancy in the United States is no longer increasing and, in fact, is decreasing.

Sadly, this generation of children may be the first to die before their parents.

The reality, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Child Trends DataBank, is this: “[C]hildren in the United States have a shorter life expectancy than those in at least 20 other countries with populations of one million or more.”

And while we seem to have made inroads in some areas of longevity, chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases remain rather unscathed at the top of the list of overall killers, with a combined contribution that accounts for half of all deaths in the U.S….

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Computer Recycling – The Downside of Upgrading

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In an era when prices for goods are escalating while product quality seems to be decreasing (“they don’t make ‘em like they used to”), electronics equipment is one bright spot on the consumer landscape. The products keep improving, and the prices keep dropping. That flash drive you’re carrying is about the size of a stick of gum, yet it has quadruple the storage capacity of the laptop you were using on the job ten years ago. With all these advancements in the computer arena, why not upgrade?

The downside of upgrading is disposing of all that old equipment. You can’t sell it, and you can’t give it away. Your local charities and schools won’t accept electronics donations — you’ve checked. So you make the environmentally responsible decision to recycle. Congratulations, you’re living green.

Or are you?

What if you knew that the obsolete cellphones, TVs, and computers you just recycled with a clear conscience are on their way to a “burn village” in China? …

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Protect Yourself from Cell Phone Radiation

October 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cancer, Cell Phones, Front Page, Kids, Slideshow

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We’ve all heard rumors over the years that cell phones cause brain cancer. But no one could ever point to conclusive research that it was true. So, most of us have pretty much dismissed that theory and forgotten about it. We walk, drive, sit, stand, and even (shhh!) use the bathroom with a cell to our ear. And if it’s not at our ear, it’s in a pocket or purse, or charging on the nightstand near our pillow.

Cell phones are our constant companions. But perhaps they shouldn’t be. …

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Indie Film “A River of Waste” Issues Urgent Call to “Vote with Our Ballots as Well as Our Forks”

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“Only after the last tree is cut down, the last of the water poisoned, the last animal destroyed… Only then will you realize you cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian Prophecy

So begins the documentary film A River of Waste, setting the stage for a discussion of how agriculture in the U.S. — and indeed, much of the world — has left behind the family farm and turned into profits-at-any-cost Big Ag. And there are costs — costs to the animals kept in filth and confinement; costs to the environment in air, soil, and water pollution; and costs to the health and well-being of people.

This excellent indie film presents a story that has been carefully researched and seamlessly assembled to show consumers just how dangerous CAFOs are. But it doesn’t stop there; it presents solutions in the form of regulations and practices that are common in the European Union…

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Take Action – Remove Toxic Flame Retardants from Kids’ Products

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In California, babies and children are exposed to toxic flame retardant chemicals in their clothing, sheets, and other materials nearly every minute of every day. Healthy Child Healthy World has launched a campaign urging citizens to send faxes to Governor Schwarzenegger and other government officials TODAY, with a strong message in favor of SB 772. According to Christopher Gavigan, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, the bill would “exempt baby and juvenile products from California’s regulations that create a de facto mandate for the use of toxic fire retardant chemicals.”

On the surface, fire retardants in children’s clothing, bedding, strollers, infant carriers, changing tables, cribs, high chairs, and other products sound like a good idea. We all want children to be protected from flames. But Gavigan points out the flaws in this reasoning…

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Dirty Industries Have a Long Tail of Consequences

June 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Asbestos, Asthma, Blog, Cancer, Front Page, Health, Industries

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In recent years, there has been a great deal of national attention focused on the improvement of industrial environmental standards. Even as we attempt to rebuild our economy, we seem to be focused on not only restoring industry, but also using this as an opportunity to do it in a way that is not environmentally destructive. This provides us, the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center (MAA Center), and many others the opportunity to improve all aspects of these industries, including the workplace hazards among workers and the all-too-common health hazards affecting members of the surrounding communities…

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Acai – Amazon Wonder Berry or Just Another Craze?

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If you listen to the hype, you may begin to think that the acai (pronounced a-sigh-EE) berry is the wonder food for everything that could possibly ail you. The ads are all over the Internet, in magazines, on television. They lure you in with questionable (if not outright fabricated) celebrity endorsements, “free” sample offers, and broad claims of almost mythical proportions.

Although acai is most commonly advertised as a weight-loss product, marketers also claim that it provides increased energy levels, improved sexual performance, improved digestion, detoxification, high fiber content, high antioxidant content, improved skin appearance, improved heart health, improved sleep, and reduction of cholesterol levels…

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Product Review – Vivesana Solar to Polar Sunscreen

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The most important function of a sunscreen is, of course, to protect your skin against UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. But that’s not the only element to consider when choosing what to slather on your skin this summer. Most sunscreens are made with synthetic substances, water, and alcohol. But wouldn’t you rather use a sunscreen made with natural and organic ingredients?

Recently, I received two sample tubes of Vivesana Solar to Polar sunscreen to review. The packaging looked interesting, promising “70% Organic, 100% Natural” ingredients with a high SPF of 40 on the Ultra formula and 42 on the Baby product. But I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I pretty much forgot about it for several days. The sunscreen tubes sat on my desk until this past weekend, when Joe and I were invited for a boat ride with friends…

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There’s No Such Thing As a “Healthy Tan”

June 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cancer, Family, Front Page, Health, Sunscreen

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Think skin cancer couldn’t happen to you? Think again.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimates that more than a million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. alone. Unless you want to be among that number, protecting your skin with sunscreen is more than just a good idea. It’s a necessity…

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This Should Scare the Meat Out of You

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We’ve heard it all before. We’ve read it a million times, and now we’re sick of it. We’ve all had it up to here about why we shouldn’t eat red meat. You did hear about the recent study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine — the one in which researchers followed half million people for ten years. Oh, you missed that one?

It involved 322,263 men, and 223,390 women ages 50 to 71. That’s my demographic — and the single largest demographic in the US. Maybe it’s your demographic, too. Or your parents’ or grandparents’ (if you’re really young). Ever wonder why we Baby Boomers are experiencing such high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer?…

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Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s

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Did something in the environment cause my cancer? This is a question I heard asked repeatedly by young adult cancer patients across the country while researching my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of twenty-seven and often wondered if growing up amid Pittsburgh’s steel town relics may have contributed to my own cancer. I leapt at the chance to interview Richard Acker, a 36-year-old metastatic colon cancer patient and environmental attorney…

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Are Those Personal Care Products Safe to Use?

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Despite Joe’s firm stance on not keeping things we haven’t used in a year or longer, I have a stash of half-used bottles of hair care products and a box full of makeup that qualifies as an archaeological dig site. The items were useful in their day. Then, for whatever reason, I moved on, rejecting each product like a lover fallen out of favor. I can’t very well pass them along through FreeCycle — no one wants someone else’s quarter bottle of shampoo or half-used blush. And I don’t want to send them to a landfill to spend eternity. So, I’ve been doing my best to use them up…

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Healthy Child Healthy World – Inspiring Positive Action for Kids’ Sake

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Whatever question you may have about the environment and its health effects on children, Healthy Child Healthy World is a place where you’ll find well-researched, thoughtful, and practical answers. We are impressed by the work that the folks at Healthy Child Healthy World are doing, and are pleased to share with you our interview with Christopher Gavigan, CEO. He and his team are continuing the work Nancy and Jim Chuda began when they co-founded the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition, following the death of their only child, Colette, to environmentally caused cancer.

GAVIGAN: It doesn’t take much in a conversation with any parent, no matter how old the child, to see that their top priority is their children’s health and, certainly, their happiness. If you ask any pregnant mom, she says, “I just want it to be a healthy baby.” That sentiment is so powerful, and every new set of parents can rally around this thought.

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Healthy Child Healthy World — A Story of Heartbreak and Hope

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“When a parent loses a child, there really are no words. There are no words to describe this grief, and there are no words to mend the broken heart that remains forever after. But my husband and I chose to try to make a difference,” said Nancy Chuda, referring to the death of their only child, Colette. “We said, let us take the remains of what would have been her life and, in her memory, establish something that would give benefit to countless millions. It fueled our passion. It was our pain that carried us through — from pain to passion — in building the network.”

I spoke with Nancy Chuda about Healthy Child Healthy World, the organization she and her husband, Jim, founded nearly twenty years ago in honor and memory of their daughter. This is her story.

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Green Corps Volunteers: “Being the Change” in the World

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“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi.

Caitlin Seeley, 23, from Boulder, Colorado, decided that hand-wringing about climate change and other environmental crises was not going to work for her. She wanted to “be the change,” in Gandhi’s words, rather than waiting for someone else to fix the world’s environmental problems. So, she joined the non-profit, activist group, Green Corps, and is busy “being the change” every day. “Organizing as a career, as a job, enables you to make an important impact on lots of people, communities, and the world,” Caitlin said in her recent interview with Blue Planet Green Living.

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