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If you think it's wrong, do something

Posted by Alison Hopcroft at Mar 14, 2013 02:00 PM |

What's it like to get breast cancer in your 20s? Allison Hopcroft, a member of OEC's Emerging Leaders Board, responds to this headline from a Chicago newspaper.

Alison is an Associate Manager at Fluid Market Strategies, where she manages energy efficiency programs and leads their Sustainability Consulting Services group. She attended the Monterey Institute of International Studies, graduating with an MA in International Environmental Policy and a focus in Sustainable Business Management. Alison serves on OEC's Emerging Leaders Board.

What's it like to get breast cancer in your 20s?

That's the headline for an interview with two young women in Chicago, published this month. 

And in the next news article: a chart from a scientific study on "mammary carcinogens," with "industrial chemicals" accounting for a generous piece of the pie.

Data from the Silent Spring Institute
By Lindsey Konkel. Data from the Silent Spring Institute.

I am concerned that women my age are diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, though still rare, at double the rate of 40 years ago. I am also concerned that chemicals linked to breast cancer are used in plastic, furniture foam, soaps and other consumer products. 

In the Environmental Health News article, Dr. Hugh Taylor makes a compelling point: Most cancers aren’t one single piece of damage, but a collection of injuries to a cell or a tissue over a lifetime. 

But, Dr. Taylor explains, when a child is exposed to a chemical early in life that gives her a predisposition for tumor growth, she starts life with one strike against her.

OEC wants all kids to have a shot at a healthy life. They talk to Oregon parents, caregivers and citizens about how to reduce exposure to these chemicals. Bring fresh air into the home. Control dust that traps these chemicals. Make discerning choices in the store.

But here's the maddening truth: there is just no way we can escape these chemicals when they are hidden in products we use every day, and when one toxic gets replaced with an equally toxic alternative.

In the Chicago paper, 30-year-old cancer survivor Lauren Wakefield advises young women to be their own health advocates. "If you think something's wrong and you don't like what the doctor's telling you, you have to investigate it." 

I think that the same is true of being a citizen. If you think it’s wrong for undisclosed carcinogens to be in products, especially those that give kids a strike against future health, you have to speak up about it.

Here’s a chance: speak up for HB 3162,  Oregon’s Toxic Disclosure for Healthy Kids Act of 2013.

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