The President's Cancer Panel (http://pcp.cancer.gov, LOL!) today issued a report that includes some surprising recommendations for minimizing environmental cancer risk: eat organic, filter your water, and avoid storing food or beverages in plastics that contain Bisphenol A (BPA). The bottom line is to minimize exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Snip from Nick Kristof's related op-ed/summary in the NYT:
Traditionally, we reduce cancer risks through regular doctor visits, self-examinations and screenings such as mammograms. The President's Cancer Panel suggests other eye-opening steps as well, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic.
In particular, the report warns about exposures to chemicals during pregnancy, when risk of damage seems to be greatest. Noting that 300 contaminants have been detected in umbilical cord blood of newborn babies, the study warns that: "to a disturbing extent, babies are born 'pre-polluted.' "
After reading the report, I was inspired to throw out (recycle!) all of the pthalate and BPA-laden cheapo plastic food storage containers from my kitchen, and order replacements made from glass with silicone seals. I already buy mostly organic foods, and drink mostly filtered water. I don't microwave my food at all, but if even storing cold leftovers in certain types of plastic containers might up your risk, this seems an easy and cheap enough change to make. Can't hurt.