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Green Your LifeHealth

Five Ways You Can Help Stop Autism and Cancer

As a former teacher of students with autism, a current and lifelong fear-er of cancer, and an avid environmentalist, I always saw a link between these three “interests” of mine. Many types of cancer can be/have been linked to the various environmental toxins introduced into our environment by major polluting industries (plastics, chemical, coal, oil, to name a few major offenders).

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Yet, with autism, the link has long been mentioned, studied, and brushed aside due to lack of evidence. I’d imagine that if you had a line chart with three lines, one for the rate of environmental toxins 1900 to present, and the other two with the rate of cancer and autism cases during that same time, the three lines would ride the same “hockey stick curve”.

Scientific American has recently published a new study linking autism to the environment. The study mentions that:

The scientists who authored the new study advocate a nationwide shift in autism research to focus on potential factors in the environment that babies and fetuses are exposed to, including pesticides, viruses and chemicals in household products.

And goes on to share:

Many researchers have theorized that a pregnant woman’s exposure to chemical pollutants, particularly metals and pesticides, could be altering a developing baby’s brain structure, triggering autism.

The common argument by those looking to disprove such a link is that, with modern technology and know-how we are able to screen and diagnose more people for cancer and autism — cases which would have gone undiagnosed in the past. True, and like autism and cancer, we are able to test for toxins in our air, soil, and water better than ever before. However, unlike autism and many cases of cancer we can discover the source of these environmental toxins and stop them from entering our food chain.

Want to decrease the rate of cancer and autism in the country/world? Stop these toxins from entering the environment. Donating to cancer and autism research will indeed help with reactionary measures, treatments, and other innovations. Yet, donating to groups like Sierra Club who take these major polluters to court to curb toxic emissions, stop illegal dumping, and force the clean-up of Superfund and other toxic waste sites would work towards prevention. You can also help by not supporting these major polluters.

Five quick ways to do that:

1. Drive less–Less cars will be manufactured (keeping a myriad of toxic waste out of the environment) and less gas/oil consumed and burned. Bike, walk, car-share, take mass transit…
2. Avoid plastics–The major way to do this is by shopping less and to attempt to get the bulk of your groceries from local markets.
3. Use natural cleaners–Plant-based cleaners are much safer and better for you and the environment than their chemical-cocktail counterparts. Better yet, make your own. Vinegar is the wonder cleaner!
4. Turn off the electricity–Turn off lights when you leave a room. Limit yourself/family to 3 TV shows per week (at most). Turn EVERYTHING off and get outside.
5. Buy organic–It is a crazy American phenomenon that we should be saving and cutting corners on our food purchases. That’s insane! Food is the one area where money should be an afterthought. There is nothing more important than putting tasty, healthy, whole foods into your body and keeping harmful pesticides and chemical fertilizers out of our soil (and food). Having been focused on cheap food production–aided by industrial fertilizers and pesticides–for so long has depleted our soil of important (cancer-fighting) nutrients. Also, organic cotton is a great choice when clothes shopping considering conventionally grown cotton uses more harmful insecticides than any other single crop.

Like most things, the problem with these solutions is time. Just as there is no quick fix for global warming, there is no quick fix for preventing cancer and autism–and we are a quick-fix society. If clean-up and emission prevention began today at the rate it should, the rate of cancer and/or autism (if it is indeed linked to the environment) would not drastically decline today.

The water cycle and the amazing living, cleaning, healing potential of the earth would take years to flush out the toxic waste that is deeply embedded in it. And even after hundreds of years it still wouldn’t all be gone (plastic photo-degrades).

The fact is consumption and consumerism will continue–but unless they continue on a much smaller and more focused track–things ain’t-a-changin’. Unfortunately, neither cancer nor autism are going anywhere soon.

Photo Credit: piX1966 on Flickr under Creative Commons license.




8 comments
  1. attietewd

    One way to stop autism is make sure there are no autoimmune weaknesses in your family. My family no longer has to have LIVE vaccines….MMR can cause Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis….which in a child becomes autism. My 30 year old daughter took her 13 mos old in to peds to get shots. 10 days after the baby’s shots SHE (my 30 year old daughter)got ADEM….yep thats right, through cell shedding of live virus via diaper change. This is confirmed by her neurologist. It’s been ten months now….her speech, balance and gait are still affected. In PA VAERS (vaccine adverse effect reporting system) does not include third party lawsuits, so she is sh*t out of luck.

  2. Amy

    i am absolutely disgusted. i could quite personaly grab any one of these japanese cowards by the throat and slaughter them myself, because thats what those heartless horrible people deserve.

  3. Isa

    Argh.

    Sorry; I did not mean to appear so curt in my first post. Certainly doing these things isn’t going to harm you, and is even going to be good for you and for the environment. That’s awesome. I try to do all of these things anyway.

    But to link them to the prevention of autism and cancer… well, the links are tenuous at best, from what I’ve read. It’s disappointing to see people promote and encourage scientific ignorance and an unwillingness to search for ALL the facts. After all, many people will believe anything they are told…

  4. Harold L Doherty

    AutismNewsBeat

    The M.I.N.D. Institute study eliminated some of the major non-environmental factors offered as COMPLETE explanations for the startling increases in autism diagnoses.

    In addition to SciAm the authors of the study in commenting on the study expressly stated that environment SHOULD be considered:

    “Hertz-Picciotto said that the study is a clarion call to researchers and policy makers who have focused attention and money on understanding the genetic components of autism. She said that the rise in cases of autism in California cannot be attributed to the state’s increasingly diverse population because the disorder affects ethnic groups at fairly similar rates.

    β€œRight now, about 10 to 20 times more research dollars are spent on studies of the genetic causes of autism than on environmental ones. We need to even out the funding,” Hertz-Picciotto said.”

    http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/newsroom/newsdetail.html?key=1861&svr=http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu&table=published

  5. AutismNewsBeat

    The M.I.N.D. Institute study did not address environment as a cause of autism, or in any way suggest environment should be considered. That’s the problem when the press release about a study comes to a different conclusion than the study itself.

    SciAm was snookered on this one.

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