By Becca Harber
In 2009, my friend Susie Kossack told me that a non-invasive exam existed called "thermography," used to check breasts for signs of cancer. At 59, I was instantly curious, as I'd consciously chosen not to have mammograms. I was concerned that the cumulative radiation from repeated exams would increase my cancer risk, and I'd rarely chosen to receive other X-rays over the years. The idea of my breasts being painfully smashed down during the procedure was also repellent to me. I learned online about Dr. Pamela Howard, a certified thermal imaging technician who comes to this region to offer thermography.
I was told to schedule two exams several months apart to establish my baseline of "normality," assuming no unusual spots showed up initially. After that, annual thermal exams (TEs) are recommended to check for changes. During the first exam, the patient is photographed from six angles. Her health history and photos go to a medical team trained in interpreting TEs. They send evaluative comments to the patient and her doctor or health practitioner. Dr. Howard also reviews the reports herself if requested. If the results indicate possible conditions, she'll also make referrals, including to holistic practitioners. The total cost for breast thermography is $175. Full body TEs cost more.
Despite growing scientific evidence and public concern, toxic chemicals remain on the market and are commonly found in our homes, workplaces, everyday products, food and bodies. The federal law regulating chemicals in products, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, is outdated and badly in need of an upgrade. In fact, of the over 80,000 chemicals in commerce, only about 200 have been adequately screened for their safety. Only five have been banned by the federal government, and none since 1990. And those chemicals don't stay put. They come off on our hands, get into household dust, are found in indoor air, and end up in our bodies, where they can contribute to health problems.
So, we find ourselves in a situation where many of the products on which we have come to rely are made with chemicals that could harm our health. Yet people broadly assume that if a product is for sale on a store shelf, it has been stringently examined for safety. Nothing could be further from the truth.
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Recently, a number of prominent food cooperatives from throughout New York state have issued statements clearly addressing the dangers posed to our communities and our co-ops by the unsafe and resource-intensive process of hydrofracturing ("hydrofracking") for natural gas. As an institution that is firmly against this practice, we are proud to stand alongside our fello...