When a 50 year old 3-pack-a-day smoker gets lung cancer, we all shake our head. But when it’s a 6 year old, only horror is felt.
Personally, I have always believed that childhood cancers come from a bad combination of genetic susceptibility and environmental chemical exposure. Either way, it is in no way, shape or form from decisions that the child has made. Unless, of course, the child independently decided to take up smoking at 3 and moved next to a nuclear waste dump against parental advice.
Personally, I have done everything possible to reduce or eliminate my family’s exposure to toxic chemicals. Selective vaccinations (yes—this little tidbit is glided over when describing the risks of vaccination…), no non-stick cookware, glass or stainless steel containers and glasses, no herbicides, no pesticides, organic foods when possible and only essential-oil based fragrances.
I remember a time when we had an ant infestation. There was a clear trail from outside directly to one of the dog bowls, where they had immersed themselves in the leftover dog food. Outside and along the inside of the molding I sprinkled grits. But since grits take some time to work, I remember crawling around on the floor with duct tape capturing all of the home invaders. My then-toddler thought it was a blast.
This is not the extent to which most people would go through to protect their family from toxins, but I’ve always had a distinct fear of toxic chemicals, regardless of how “safe” they have been declared. (BTW—the “safety” of most of the pesticides in use today have been determined by the companies that manufacture them)
Time and time again, my fears, when it comes to how much of an impact that toxic, everyday, household chemicals have on our healthy, have proven well-founded. This time is no different.
In this particular study, researchers looked across 13 different studies to evaluate the impact that pesticides used in the home have on the risk of childhood leukemia and lymphoma.
Of all the cancers, the blood-origin cancers, leukemia and lymphoma, are among the scariest. The solid tumors like breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic, have very well-defined lifestyle risk factors like diet and exercise. Not so with leukemia and lymphoma. Sure, your dietary choices play a role, but this role is not as great as the hidden chemical exposures that increase risk.
“Hidden” being the scariest word in that paragraph. Personally, I’m pretty well aware of where these hidden chemicals lie, but the average person is unaware of most. And the ones that we should be aware of and avoid are so commonly used that no one questions them.
Household pesticides are one of these chemicals, as we really see in the results of this study:
- Overall, indoor residential insecticide exposure was linked to a 47% higher risk of childhood leukemia and a 43% higher risk of lymphoma.
- Even worse, when both indoor insecticide exposure and professional home treatment exposure was present, this risk jumped 204% higher.
- The overall risk for all childhood cancer from indoor pesticide exposure in general was increased 40%.
These are some scary numbers, especially with the combination of professional and non-professional home use. I know that many of the pesticide companies will only spray outside the house, but I would still be worried. We really have no idea how much of these chemicals make it into the home.
And here’s the rub—at least here in the Phoenix area, there are a large number of pest prevention companies. It’s a thriving business. And this means that there are a large number of people in developed countries that are exposing themselves and their families to toxic chemicals that are known to increase the risk of childhood cancers.
Maybe the next time you see a cockroach running across the floor it’s not the time to run to the phone and call the exterminators.