KRON 4 | Carcinogens to Plastics: There’s WHAT in My Water?!

KRON4_Contaminated Water

Did you know that drinking water increases your risk of cancer? Contaminants (from known carcinogens to plastic particles) found in public water systems could be the cause of cancer from drinking it over the course of a lifetime. Here’s what’s lurking in the water you drink…

The Research

Researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy group, conducted a nationwide water contamination study and reviewed 30 million state water records. In California, they evaluated 2,737 different public water systems.

The researchers calculated cancer risk by evaluating the reported contaminant levels from 2010 to 2015. Then they analyzed the cumulative risk based on the yearly averages of all the contaminants and took into account co-occurring contaminants*. 

*NOTE: Interactions between chemical contaminants can overestimate or underestimate overall risk. More research is needed to understand the science behind these interactions.

The Three Key Contaminants Detected

Boy is drinking water in the morning.State regulators oversee the water providers which are regulated by the “Safe Drinking Water Act” and test for contaminants to ensure the water is safe to drink. EWG researchers found three key contaminants:

  1. Arsenic: Drinking water contaminated with arsenic attributed to most of the cancer risk, about 47% of estimated cancer cases. 
  2. Disinfection byproducts
  3. Chromium-6 (Hexavalent)

Small Water Systems Carry the Highest Risk

The smaller utility systems carried the higher risks because they don’t have the resources and economies to improve water quality. Even so, 43% of the larger utilities carried some of the higher cancer risks.

Warning sign with carcinogenic substancesClick here to find out what contaminants are in your water district. You’ll be asked to enter your zip code.

Check out EBMUD’s Water Testing Records…

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The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has historically been know as having the “best” drinking water in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the EWG researchers found two contaminants above health guidelines. According to third quarter 2018 (July to Sept), the tap water provided by EBMUD was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.

The two contaminants that were detected ABOVE health guidelines were:

Warning sign with carcinogenic substances1. Chromium-6 (Hexavalent) — A carcinogen in drinking water due to industrial pollution or natural occurrences in mineral deposits and groundwater. Harm to the liver and reproductive system. Detected above the health guideline from 2013 to 2015.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Carcinogens to Plastics: There’s WHAT in My Water?!”

KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens

Studies show that those who regularly used sunscreens were more likely to burn than those who did not. I explain why and what to do about it with KRON 4 Morning News Anchor, Marty Gonzalez.

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Why Sunscreen Users Burn

Possible reasons for this finding* are that sunscreen users:

    1. May have a false sense of security.
    2. Justify staying outdoors loner.
    3. Don’t follow label directions properly.

*National Health Interview Survey of 31,000 Americans recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

Commonly Missed Spots

The most commonly overlooked areas when it comes to applying sunscreen are the most vulnerable to skin cancer. These body parts are exposed to the sun almost daily and not covered up during the colder months.

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The scalp, ears, back of neck, hands, lips, & arms are exposed to aging UVA rays all year around.
  • Scalp: Use an oil-free sunscreen (least greasy option for hair) if you’re bald, shave your head, and on your part.
  • Ears: Cancer occurs frequently on the ears.
  • Eyelids: Cancers often develop on the skin around the eyes. Difficult to protect with sunscreen if you don’t want lotion in your eyes. Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses.
  • Lips: One of the highest risk areas for squamous cell cancer. When they develop on the lips, there is the highest chance of spreading and 35% chance of recurrence. RISK OF DEATH could be as high as 15%.
  • Hands: If you wash your hands after applying sunscreen, the backs of your hands end up with zero sun protection. Must reapply sunscreen onto backs of your hands after washing them (that includes after using the restroom too). Remember… when driving, the backs of your hands, arms, and face are highly exposed to UVA aging rays. Glass filters out only one kind of radiation — UVB rays.
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Wear sunscreen when driving. UVA rays, which penetrate deeper, can still get through glass.
  • Back of the neck:  This is a high-risk zone for basal and squamous cell cancer. Even if your have long hair, it needs sunscreen.
  •  Back: According to the American Cancer Society, men are particularly at high risk of developing deadly melanoma on their backs. The back is a difficult area to apply sunscreen and often leads to severe sunburns.

sunburn on back

ALERT! If you’ve had five or more blistering sunburns, your risk of melanoma is increased by 80% and your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer is increased by 68%.

  • Feet: If wearing sandals or have bare feet, your skin can burn easily. Apply sunscreen to tops of the feet.

Date and Shake Your Sunscreen

  • Mark the date that you opened the sunscreen with a waterproof marker if there is no expiration date. Sunscreens are meant to maintain their original potency for 3 years.
  • Shake it (even if the directions don’t say to) to distribute the active ingredients throughout the product.

Use Enough Sunscreen   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens”

KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You

One third of U.S. adults are getting sunburned each year which raises their risk of skin cancer. Getting just one sunburn every two years can triple your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. I was diagnosed with skin cancer in August 2013. For my story, click here.

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Three Major Types of Skin Cancer

  • Melanoma (most aggressive and deadly) — Men are more likely to DIE of melanoma than women. 
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – Most common
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – 2nd most that

Researchers believe that men are more vulnerable to melanoma than women due to the differences in their skin. Men tend to have thicker skin with less fat beneath it and it contains more proteins (collagen and elastin). These are the fibers that give skin their youthful appearance as they provide firmness and keep it tight. Perhaps why some men seem to age more gracefully than women?

A man’s skin is more prone to melanoma than a woman’s skin.

But here’s the bad news… researchers are correlating these skin differences to being more likely to be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. A study conducted in the Netherlands found that men’s skin reacted more intensely to UV rays than did women’s skin. A separate study reached the same conclusion.

How My Cancer Saved My Husband’s Life

Cancer of the skin is the most common of all types of cancer. I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma five years ago (August 2013) and have not had any recurrences or new lesions. Here’s what happened to me: Why I’m Now a Statistic.

When I was diagnosed, it shocked my family because beginning in my mid-20’s, I became a sunscreen fanatic (a.k.a. the Sunscreen Police). After my diagnosis, I cunningly managed to get my husband to make an appointment for his first skin cancer screening. As a competitive swimmer in his youth and a ‘sunscreen resistor’, if I could have cancer, he was also at risk.

As a result, my husband was diagnosed with MELANOMA. Fortunately, because his cancer was caught early (Stage 0), the cells were only found in the outer layer of his skin. To put this in perspective, melanoma at Stage 3 has spread to the lymph nodes. Melanoma is an aggressive, fast-growing, deadly form of cancer. It can grow rapidly within WEEKS! You must be diligent and act fast.

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?

  • Basal cell carcinoma accounts for 8 out of 10 skin cancers and usually develops on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face and neck, but they can occur anywhere. 
  • It affects people of all ages.
  • Grows slowly and it’s very rare for basal cell carcinoma to spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant parts of the body. 
  • It is malignant because BCC invades and causes significant destruction of surrounding tissues and bone as it goes deep beneath the skin and can be disfiguring.
  • Over 50% of the people diagnosed with one basal cell cancer will develop a new skin cancer within five years.

My Treatment

The Mohs technique was used to remove my cancer because it was on my nose and this surgery could retain as much healthy tissue as possible. Mohs is appropriate where there are limited underlying layers of skin tissue. It is the best treatment for therapeutic and cosmetic results. Here’s more on my Mohs surgery. On the other hand, my husband’s melanoma (which was on his arm and visually quite small) was surgically removed with a very wide excision.

Skin Cancer Prevention 

Don’t brush off any changes on your skin as “nothing”. Protect yourself and your children.

1. Limit ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Whether you’re 8 or 80, have fair or dark skin, you need sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun for LONGER THAN A FEW MINUTES. UVA rays age cells and can damage cells’ DNA. UVB rays can directly damage DNA and are a more potent cause of sunburns and skin cancer. To protect yourself, follow the “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap” catch phrase.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You”

KRON 4 | How Much Sleep is Too Little…and Too Much

How much sleep do you need? Many working Americans sleep too little, but did you know you can sleep too much? According to studies on sleep and mortality, insufficient AND excessive sleep can shorten your life.

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*Healing and repairing cells, tissues, and blood vessels help build bone and muscle mass.

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Lack of Sleep: Immediate and Long-term Health Effects 

  1. Diminished cognitive function
  2. Increased levels of cortisol (stress hormone) which cause the following:

Continue reading “KRON 4 | How Much Sleep is Too Little…and Too Much”

KRON 4 | Why Meat is Linked to Colon Cancer

Numerous studies have linked a high intake of red meat or processed meats to colon cancer. KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, has me explain why eating animal protein and fat are to blame.

Bile is to Blame

  • Bile assists with digestion by breaking down fats. Think of bile as “Mother Nature’s degreaser”. This greenish yellow secretion is made and released by the liver, then concentrated and stored in the gallbladder until fat enters your small intestine.
  • Bile acids stimulate the growth of bacteria, which convert the primary bile acids into secondary bile acids.
  • Bile acids, particularly secondary bile acids, have long been suspected as being cancer-causing.
  • Eating more fat means more fat and bile acids in the colon.

High Saturated Fats in the Diet

  • A high intake of saturated fat is associated with high levels of bile, which is usually evident in colon cancer patients.
  • High saturated fats + high levels of bile are factors that produce colorectal cancer tumors.

Meat Sources High in Saturated Fat

  • Meat – e.g., fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb
  • Processed / deli meats – salami, sausages, chicken skin
  • Lard – pig fat

Bile Circulates from Colon to Breast    

Continue reading “KRON 4 | Why Meat is Linked to Colon Cancer”