Obama, Romney, and Women’s Healthcare

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In this election, arguments about women’s healthcare have often focused on abortion and contraception coverage. While I agree these are important issues, I would like to share my views from the perspective of a female cancer patient. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. “Obamacare,” requires insurance companies to cover such preventative services as breast cancer mammography screenings every one to two years for women over 40, breast cancer chemoprevention counseling for women at higher risk, and annual screenings for cervical cancer. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have pledged to repeal Obamacare, meaning many women could lose these important benefits from their paid insurance plans.

Even worse is the Republican plan, or lack thereof, for the many women currently without coverage. When money is tight, women are often the family members who go uncovered because we are often charged as much as three times the insurance rates of men (a problem Obamacare resolves as of 2014). I know many hard-working women — single and married — who are self-employed or work jobs that offer no insurance coverage and who can’t afford to pay for coverage themselves. Many married women whose spouse has a good health insurance policy still go uncovered because of the high cost of adding family coverage. Obamacare will make more options available to ALL women when the program goes into full force in 2014. But meanwhile, women without coverage need Planned Parenthood….

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What’s the Big Deal about Asbestos?

March 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Asbestos, Blog, Cancer, Front Page, Health, Slideshow

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They sound so harmless: tiny mineral fibers, interspersed throughout rock deposits, mined for their natural insulating qualities. Just how bad can these asbestos fibers be?

Just ask any of the 3,000 Americans who are diagnosed with mesothelioma in any given year – or any of the thousands of others diagnosed with different asbestos-related diseases: Asbestos is much more dangerous than it sounds….

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Eating for Health – Wahls Diet Fights Multiple Sclerosis

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In 2000, her doctor diagnosed Terry Wahls with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that was steadily robbing her of the independence she treasured. A former Tae Kwondo instructor and marathon runner, the loss of mobility was devastating. For four years, she required a tilt-recline wheelchair to conduct the affairs of her daily life. […]

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International Women’s Day Event to Celebrate Ugandan Hero

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In an early celebration of International Women’s Day, Blue Planet Green Living is partnering with A GEM of An Idea to host a live and interactive, online forum featuring the subject of this post, Agnes Nyamayarwo, founder of Mulago Positive Women’s Network.

We’re focusing on Agnes — both here and in the online forum — to celebrate her singular accomplishments as a woman of initiative, courage, and strength.

We invite you to join us February 26, 2011 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. EST to speak with Agnes Nyamayarwo live from Uganda via the Internet.

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Americans Are Now Fatter and Dying Younger

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A recent report (Thursday, December 9, 2010) published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed what many of us in the preventive medicine circles have feared: Americans are now dying at a younger age.

This is the third report in the last few years that indicates life expectancy in the United States is no longer increasing and, in fact, is decreasing.

Sadly, this generation of children may be the first to die before their parents.

The reality, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Child Trends DataBank, is this: “[C]hildren in the United States have a shorter life expectancy than those in at least 20 other countries with populations of one million or more.”

And while we seem to have made inroads in some areas of longevity, chronic conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases remain rather unscathed at the top of the list of overall killers, with a combined contribution that accounts for half of all deaths in the U.S….

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My Deodorant Is a Stainless Steel Bar

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When the public relations rep for De Odor Works contacted me to try their new deodorant bar made of stainless steel, I was skeptical, but willing. After all, I’ve seen concerns in the media about the connection between deodorants/antiperspirants and everything from Alzheimer’s disease to breast cancer to kidney disease. So, trying a deodorant that doesn’t have chemicals in it seemed like a good idea.

But let’s talk about the difference between a deodorant and an antiperspirant. Sweat itself doesn’t smell. So sweat is not the enemy. Your body — and mine — has several kinds of bacteria that live on the skin, and some of those cause odors. It’s not the bacteria themselves that smell, either, but the waste products they produce after eating those sweat-laden, dead skin cells then “breaking down protein into certain acids,” according to Medical News Today.

So, the upshot is that we don’t really need to prevent sweating, we need to prevent the bacteria from excreting their foul-smelling waste products on our skin. That’s what De Odor Works, manufactured by Abbott Research Group, Inc., is supposed to do. “Its secret,” Abbott Research Group says, “is the unique reaction that occurs when ordinary running tap water and stainless steel combine to neutralize odor. Using stainless steel with running water is a recognized method of eliminating the volatile sulfur compounds (VSC) that cause odor. Stainless steel is biocompatible to human tissue, so you can use De Odor Works anywhere on your body without any adverse effects.”…

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Computer Recycling – The Downside of Upgrading

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In an era when prices for goods are escalating while product quality seems to be decreasing (“they don’t make ‘em like they used to”), electronics equipment is one bright spot on the consumer landscape. The products keep improving, and the prices keep dropping. That flash drive you’re carrying is about the size of a stick of gum, yet it has quadruple the storage capacity of the laptop you were using on the job ten years ago. With all these advancements in the computer arena, why not upgrade?

The downside of upgrading is disposing of all that old equipment. You can’t sell it, and you can’t give it away. Your local charities and schools won’t accept electronics donations — you’ve checked. So you make the environmentally responsible decision to recycle. Congratulations, you’re living green.

Or are you?

What if you knew that the obsolete cellphones, TVs, and computers you just recycled with a clear conscience are on their way to a “burn village” in China? …

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Salba Smart – Super Bowl Treats that Are Good for Your Heart

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On Super Bowl Sunday, when you dip your hand into a bag of pretzels or grab some chips and salsa, you can take good care of your heart while indulging your junk-food craving. Yeah, I know. You’ve heard lots of claims of “healthy” foods that “taste good, too” — but do they?

Many of the “healthy” snacks I’ve tried are less than satisfying. But Salba Smart snacks are both delicious and good for you. My friends and I can testify to their taste, and the fact sheets give ample evidence of their health effects….

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Protect Yourself from Cell Phone Radiation

October 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cancer, Cell Phones, Front Page, Kids, Slideshow

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We’ve all heard rumors over the years that cell phones cause brain cancer. But no one could ever point to conclusive research that it was true. So, most of us have pretty much dismissed that theory and forgotten about it. We walk, drive, sit, stand, and even (shhh!) use the bathroom with a cell to our ear. And if it’s not at our ear, it’s in a pocket or purse, or charging on the nightstand near our pillow.

Cell phones are our constant companions. But perhaps they shouldn’t be. …

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Face to Face: Children of the AIDS Crisis in Africa by Ande and Richter

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Open to any page of Face to Face: Children of the AIDS Crisis in Africa, and you’ll find haunting photos and text that will either make you weep for, laugh with, or give applause to the children who are profiled here.

The story of one tiny girl, whose image flees across the page, gives a new perspective on the word “hardship,” as we experience it in the West. Author Ruthann Richter writes, “Two-year-old Mary Maishon was near death when she was found with two other children living under a piece of cardboard and plastic. Her limbs were skeletal, bent from lack of nutrition, and she was barely able to sit up. She didn’t speak at all.”

In a later photo, taken after she was restored to health through loving kindness and the generosity of strangers, tiny Mary beams at the camera, full of life and joy. Over a period of many months, photographer Karen Ande has captured the child’s journey from the brink of death to the beginning of a hopeful future…

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Indie Film “A River of Waste” Issues Urgent Call to “Vote with Our Ballots as Well as Our Forks”

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“Only after the last tree is cut down, the last of the water poisoned, the last animal destroyed… Only then will you realize you cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian Prophecy

So begins the documentary film A River of Waste, setting the stage for a discussion of how agriculture in the U.S. — and indeed, much of the world — has left behind the family farm and turned into profits-at-any-cost Big Ag. And there are costs — costs to the animals kept in filth and confinement; costs to the environment in air, soil, and water pollution; and costs to the health and well-being of people.

This excellent indie film presents a story that has been carefully researched and seamlessly assembled to show consumers just how dangerous CAFOs are. But it doesn’t stop there; it presents solutions in the form of regulations and practices that are common in the European Union…

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“Who Will Stay Home with the Kids When They’re Sick?”

August 27, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Disease, Front Page, Health, Jobs, Kids, Parenting, U.S.

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If you’re a working parent, you’ve probably faced this scenario: One or more of your kids is sick, but you’re expected to be at work. Maybe you can telecommute that day. Or maybe you have a nanny, who’s paid to stay with your kids no matter what. You might even have a willing relative, who isn’t worried about catching whatever illness your child is carrying. If so, you’re one of the lucky few.

More likely, you’re one of the millions of workers who are expected to be on the job in the office or in the fields or at the factory every day, regardless of what’s going on at home. Oh, and you probably don’t get paid sick leave for staying home with your children, do you? …

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Take Action – Remove Toxic Flame Retardants from Kids’ Products

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In California, babies and children are exposed to toxic flame retardant chemicals in their clothing, sheets, and other materials nearly every minute of every day. Healthy Child Healthy World has launched a campaign urging citizens to send faxes to Governor Schwarzenegger and other government officials TODAY, with a strong message in favor of SB 772. According to Christopher Gavigan, CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, the bill would “exempt baby and juvenile products from California’s regulations that create a de facto mandate for the use of toxic fire retardant chemicals.”

On the surface, fire retardants in children’s clothing, bedding, strollers, infant carriers, changing tables, cribs, high chairs, and other products sound like a good idea. We all want children to be protected from flames. But Gavigan points out the flaws in this reasoning…

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A Symbolic Funeral for the Iowa River

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Every so often, an issue consumes me. I read as much as I can on the subject. I attend lectures. I join action groups. I get involved. This is one of those issues: my beloved Iowa River. The Iowa River isn’t dead yet, but, like so many other rivers, it’s heading that way. And I think it’s worth saving. So, I decided to do something about it.

Tomorrow, on the Fourth of July, the Save the Iowa River (STIR) group will hold a mock funeral for the Iowa River in conjunction with Iowa City’s annual jazz festival. We’ll be rocking a pine casket, loaned by Gay & Ciha Funeral and Cremation Services, while playing “Down by the Riverside,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and other standards. We’ll march in true New Orleans style in a second-line, jazz funeral parade. We’ll have fun, while spreading the word — and water samples — to the public. And you’re invited to join us…

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Hog CAFOs Can Affect Human Health

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Iowa produces more corn, soybeans, pigs, and egg-laying hens than any other state in the US. There are approximately 100 million farm animals — and only 3 million people. Animal feces is actually the state’s largest product. MRSA bacteria — which causes the flesh-eating disease — and swine flu are growing problems. Concerned about these facts, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) contacted Dr. Alan Kornberg, a physician who serves on the board of directors of the Farm Sanctuary. We asked Dr. Kornberg about the human health effects associated with farm animals in confinement…

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Dirty Industries Have a Long Tail of Consequences

June 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Asbestos, Asthma, Blog, Cancer, Front Page, Health, Industries

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In recent years, there has been a great deal of national attention focused on the improvement of industrial environmental standards. Even as we attempt to rebuild our economy, we seem to be focused on not only restoring industry, but also using this as an opportunity to do it in a way that is not environmentally destructive. This provides us, the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center (MAA Center), and many others the opportunity to improve all aspects of these industries, including the workplace hazards among workers and the all-too-common health hazards affecting members of the surrounding communities…

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Acai – Amazon Wonder Berry or Just Another Craze?

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If you listen to the hype, you may begin to think that the acai (pronounced a-sigh-EE) berry is the wonder food for everything that could possibly ail you. The ads are all over the Internet, in magazines, on television. They lure you in with questionable (if not outright fabricated) celebrity endorsements, “free” sample offers, and broad claims of almost mythical proportions.

Although acai is most commonly advertised as a weight-loss product, marketers also claim that it provides increased energy levels, improved sexual performance, improved digestion, detoxification, high fiber content, high antioxidant content, improved skin appearance, improved heart health, improved sleep, and reduction of cholesterol levels…

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Product Review – Vivesana Solar to Polar Sunscreen

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The most important function of a sunscreen is, of course, to protect your skin against UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. But that’s not the only element to consider when choosing what to slather on your skin this summer. Most sunscreens are made with synthetic substances, water, and alcohol. But wouldn’t you rather use a sunscreen made with natural and organic ingredients?

Recently, I received two sample tubes of Vivesana Solar to Polar sunscreen to review. The packaging looked interesting, promising “70% Organic, 100% Natural” ingredients with a high SPF of 40 on the Ultra formula and 42 on the Baby product. But I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I pretty much forgot about it for several days. The sunscreen tubes sat on my desk until this past weekend, when Joe and I were invited for a boat ride with friends…

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There’s No Such Thing As a “Healthy Tan”

June 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cancer, Family, Front Page, Health, Sunscreen

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Think skin cancer couldn’t happen to you? Think again.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimates that more than a million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. alone. Unless you want to be among that number, protecting your skin with sunscreen is more than just a good idea. It’s a necessity…

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This Should Scare the Meat Out of You

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We’ve heard it all before. We’ve read it a million times, and now we’re sick of it. We’ve all had it up to here about why we shouldn’t eat red meat. You did hear about the recent study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine — the one in which researchers followed half million people for ten years. Oh, you missed that one?

It involved 322,263 men, and 223,390 women ages 50 to 71. That’s my demographic — and the single largest demographic in the US. Maybe it’s your demographic, too. Or your parents’ or grandparents’ (if you’re really young). Ever wonder why we Baby Boomers are experiencing such high rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer?…

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