Toxic agents in our home

Most cancers, in general, are caused by the body’s repeated exposure to harmful chemicals in our environment. These include tobacco, alcohol, and all dangerous ingredients in common household cleansing agents, like laundry, kitchen, walls, windows, floor, and toilet detergents. Added to these are the variety of chemicals, solutions or sprays we have in the garage, for cleaning cars and the floor underneath them. Our home is a major source of exposure to these toxic agents. And the pollution of our rivers and lakes and oceans from industrial toxic wastes, and air pollution from these same companies and from our car exhaust system, destroy the protective ozone layer above us and are major sources of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents).

To boot, many of us regularly ingest with gusto two major cancer-producing substances: tobacco and alcohol, two culprit-agents that account for most of the diseases, disabilities and deaths in the world today. The diseases include cancer, lung illnesses, diabetes, hypertension, heart attack and stroke. Many forms of cancer are literally “self-inflicted” and preventable.

Damage to our DNA

Whether we realize it or not, our bad habits and our closets and shelves at home are the two of the most substantial sources of cancer-causing chemicals that we come in contact with, or inhale the fumes of, daily, which adversely impact our body, health, and longevity.

The other carcinogens are from the environmental poisons forced upon us by irresponsible industrial corporations and pollutant-emitting vehicles. All these toxic agents damage our DNA, which leads to many forms of illnesses of various severity.

Major culprits

Statistics show that most of the illnesses that affect, maim, and kill human beings today are brought on by any/or a combination of these two substances: alcohol and tobacco (including secondhand smoke). These diseases include lung ailments (bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer), cardiovascular diseases (high blood pressure, heart attack, cardiomyopathy, rhythm problems and sudden death), metabolic diseases, like diabetes mellitus, and, many forms of cancer. The other factors are likewise due to similar bad choices on our part: eating processed foods, or, a high-cholesterol, high-fat, high-carbohydrate, high salt, low-fiber diet; and, dangerously living a sedentary life (as a couch potato, doing only finger exercises with the TV remote, and munching on all the junk foods around), simply getting fat. This scenario reminds us of the strategy to get the most weight on cattle and hogs, before an early slaughter: keeping them in a tight “cage” where they practically cannot move, and feeding them frequently to maximize their weight and fat. And it works. Much like our couches at home.

The Philippines “is a country of diabetics,” a lecturer once said, accounting diabesity (diabetes-obesity) to our staple food, rice. If we stayed away from rice, bread, and minimize our deserts, there will be less diabetics amongst us, he continued. While it is hard to imagine how an Asian, especially a Filipino, could stay away from rice, it is surprising to find out that many Filipinos, including the more-health-conscious younger ones, have been able to abstain from eating rice. They opt for protein and vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Not eating rice at all also helps in weight and waistline control.

And one toxic agent frequently found in our home are soft drinks. All kinds of pop beverages are unhealthy, increasing the risk for the development of metabolic syndrome, both in adult and in children.

Guide our children

The best is to start among pre-school children, and guide them about healthy lifestyle that early on. This is to protect the integrity of their DNA, and should start early as possible. Once damaged, the DNA are scarred and pathology ensues, showing up as diseases as they grow older. When I suggested in my book, “Let’s Stop ‘Killing’ Our Children,” that healthy lifestyle should start in the womb and dieting must begin in the crib to be proactive and preemptive in disease prevention at the cellular level, the goal is to protect their DNA. This is the way to maximize good health and longevity and prevent them from having the so-called “natural and expected diseases of old age” like arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid problems, heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. These major ailments are not natural and expected. They are largely preventable. We, humans, were not born doomed to have those illnesses. Majority of our diseases are self-induced, self-inflicted. Teaching and guiding our children from age one is vital to their future.

Healthy lifestyle

Living a healthy lifestyle will prevent or eliminate most of these diseases and provide us a healthier, happier, and more productive life. And this singular wonderful benefit in itself is worth all the sacrifices and hard work one needs to invest to achieve it. Components of lifestyle are our philosophy, attitude, behavior, habits, diet, exercise, and psychological and mental state.

On the household front, we agree that these chemical agents make it a lot easier for us to do our chores at home, but the potential side-effects and complications from their use – possible diseases, disabilities and early deaths — are too high a price to pay. And for these dozen or more chemical agents we use at home daily, perhaps we can minimize the danger of toxicity by limiting their use and by being extra cautious not to inhale their fumes or allow them to touch our skin.

Homemade cleansers

In view of the toxic nature of all cleaning chemicals we use at home, whether with immediate or delayed effects not obvious until years down the line, the old-fashioned non-chemical scrubbing and cleaning methods used by our great grandparents and theirs for centuries are becoming more and more popular today.

Water, the universal solvent, is the main vital ingredient in cleansing. To a gallon of water, add one ounce (30 cc) of vinegar and a teaspoon (5 cc) of liquid soap, creating your own overall spray cleansing agent at home. An ounce (30 cc) of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in one gallon of water is also a safe cleansing agent at home. The peroxide breaks down to H2O (water) and extra oxygen. Both are not only effective cleansing agents but safer, and lesser expensive. An ounce (30cc) of regular 70 percent alcohol to a gallon of water is also safer than any those chlorinated agents, Lysol, etc. These toxic agents also harm our environment (air, soil, water).

This will certainly appear to be one retrogressive step, but, ultimately, I am sure, it will be evident that this is a great leap forward that will actually spell progress and safety.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States. Email: scalpelpen@gmail.com

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Dr. Philip S. Chua
Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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