Archive for December, 2009

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of you a healthy and happy new year!

Study Links Soy Intake to Increased Breast Cancer Survival

I use Shaklee Soy Protein every day for two reasons, 1) energy. it gives me enough energy that I can typically make it through a day without feeling like I need to nap on my desk and 2) I have hereditary high cholesterol and soy is one of the tools I use to keep my cholesterol low naturally. I was reading this article from Shaklee Health Sciences yesterday and thought it was worth sharing as I know woman who are currently fighting breast cancer and the rest of us need to be diligent about tools for prevention.

In a new study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA. 2009;302(22):2437-2443), the authors conclude that “among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence.” This research conclusion is an extremely important message regarding the positive research in support of soy food intake in women with existing breast cancer, and we were compelled to present this recent science related to the potential benefits of soy food intake and breast health.

Soy foods are rich in isoflavones, a major group of phytoestrogens thought to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Many studies have supported this hypothesis, and a study published earlier this year, (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2009;18(4):1050-9), found that soy intake during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood was associated with decreased breast cancer risk in Asian American women.

However, the estrogen-like effect of isoflavones and the potential interaction with tamoxifen (a drug used for the prevention and treatment of breast cancer) have fueled concerns about soy food consumption among breast cancer survivors. But only limited laboratory and animal research has linked high levels of soy phytoestrogens to potential breast tumor cell growth, so we need to be extremely cautious before generalizing these results to humans.

To assess the effects of soy food intake on breast cancer outcomes, researchers from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and the Shanghai Institute of Preventive Medicine in Shanghai, China, collaborated on this study to evaluate the association of soy food intake after breast cancer diagnosis with total mortality and cancer recurrence.

The current study population of 5,033 participants originated from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, a longitudinal, population-based study of 6,299 survivors in China between the ages of 20 and 75. These women were diagnosed as having primary breast cancer between March 2002 and April 2006 and they were recruited into the study about six months after cancer diagnosis.

Information on cancer diagnosis and treatment, lifestyle exposures after cancer diagnosis, and disease progression was collected six months after cancer diagnosis and reassessed at three follow-up interviews conducted at 18, 36, and 60 months following diagnosis. Total mortality and breast cancer recurrence, or breast-cancer-related deaths, were recorded, adjustments were made for influencing lifestyle factors, and soy food intake was treated as a time-dependent variable.

During the four-year follow-up, soy food intake (measured as soy protein or soy isoflavone intake) was inversely associated with death and recurrence. Those with the highest level of soy intake had a 29% reduced risk for death and a 32% reduced risk for recurrence compared with those having the lowest soy intake levels.  Adjusted four-year mortality rates were 10.3% for those with the lowest and 7.4% for those with the highest soy intake. Four-year recurrence rates were 11.2% for women with the lowest and 8% for those with the highest levels of soy protein intake. The inverse association was evident among women with either estrogen-receptor positive or negative breast cancer, and was present in both users and nonusers of tamoxifen. As  American subjects may respond differently to the effects of soy compared to breast cancer survivors in China, the potential benefit may not be the same.

The authors conclude that among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence. As mentioned earlier, this is an important study that helps to clarify the safety of soy food intake in breast cancer patients. Scientists are still trying to understand all of soy’s hormonal effects. For example, it’s possible that soy acts like the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, which blocks the effects of estrogen, but additional research is needed to confirm or dismiss this possibility.

In addition to its potential breast health benefits, soy foods are a source of high quality protein nutrition and an excellent alternative to traditional protein sources that are often laden with excess calories, fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. In fact, when considering the entire body of scientific research on soy, the majority of scientific data strongly supports the value of soy protein as part of a healthy diet for heart health, breast and prostate health, bone health, and for managing menopausal symptoms. So our position has been and continues to be: When soy foods are consumed as part of an overall healthful diet, they are exceedingly safe, nutritious, and potentially beneficial.

But because safety should be your number one concern and each individual is a special case, all women with a history of breast cancer, or those at high risk, should discuss the use of soy protein as part of a healthful diet with their physician.

Flame Retardant Products, who knew?

I thought this was an interesting article as I don’t know much of anything about flame retardant products. It will be a saga I’m sure with what they come up with to replace the decaBDE. The full article was posted on Healthy Child Healthy World.

On Thursday December 17, while the world was waiting to learn if talks in Copenhagen would produce a plan to keep the planet from heating up any further, the EPA made a flame retardant announcement of its own: Within three years – by the end of 2013 – the two U.S. producers and the largest U.S. importer of the flame retardant known as decaBDE (decabromodiphenyl ether) – used widely in plastics of electronics, motor vehicles, aircraft, in textiles and furniture – will end production, use, and sales of the chemical in the United States.

This may sound arcane but it’s significant in a number of ways, not least because
decaBDE is a persistent and bioaccumulative synthetic chemical – one of a class of flame retardants known as PBDEs – that most of us have been encountering daily for years. Contrary to initial expectations, deca- is not staying put in the finished products where it’s used. In numerous scientific studies it’s been shown to migrate out of finished consumer products and has been found in household dust, in vacuum cleaner and laundry dryer lint as well as in rivers, wildlife, food, and people, most disconcertingly in nursing mothers and children.

Steve Owens, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, said in his official response to the announcement,

“Though DecaBDE has been used as a flame retardant for years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long been concerned about its impact on human health and the environment. Studies have shown that DecaBDE persists in the environment, potentially causes cancer, and may impact brain function. DecaBDE also can degrade into more toxic chemicals that are frequently found in the environment and are hazardous to wildlife.”

Deca- is one of several PBDE flame retardants that have been used widely in consumer products for years in ever increasing volumes, beginning largely in the 1970s. Other PBDEs have been taken out of use, either voluntarily or by regulation, as evidence of their adverse environmental and health impacts – as endocrine disruptors and possible carcinogens – has grown. Deca- was initially thought to be safer than other PBDEs, but evidence of its adverse effects has also grown, including its ability to break down into smaller more hazardous compounds that can adversely impact thyroid hormones, neurological and immune systems. In Europe, PBDEs, including deca-, are no longer allowed for use in electronics.

PBDEs themselves came onto the market after some of their predecessor flame retardants – among them PBBs (polybrominated biphenyls) and perhaps most notoriously a compound known as “Tris” that was used in children’s pajamas was linked to cancer in animal studies.

While agreeing to the phase-out, PBDE producers continue to maintain their product safety. “While hundreds of science-based and peer-reviewed studies have shown decaBDE to be safe in use and one of the most efficacious flame retardants in the world, Albemarle [one of the two U.S. deca- producers] is committed to delivering safe and effective products with increasingly smaller environmental footprints,” Brian Carter, global business director of Albemarle’s flame retardant group told Chemical and Engineering News.

Concern about PBDEs’ health effects has, in the absence of any federal regulation, prompted a number of U.S. states to ban their use – including that of deca-. How this phase-out will influence legislation remains to be seen but Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) has introduced a bill to ban deca- and ensure its replacement with safe alternatives.

PBDE producers say they are working on environmentally friendly alternatives. Exactly what they are and how they behave remains to be discovered – although at least one is yet another brominated compound. Flame retardants already widely in use as alternatives to PBDEs, among them chemicals known as HBCD and tetrabromobisphenol A, or their breakdown products have been identified as environmentally persistent and are turning up in water, soil, wildlife, people and food samples.

One of the big challenges will be getting behind the websites depicting ladybugs and grassy meadows to find out how “green” this next generation of flame retardants actually is. Right now all we have is the manufacturers’ word.

Elizabeth Grossman is the author most recently of Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry. She writes from Portland, Oregon. This was originally published by The Huffington Post.


Happy Holidays Everyone! My wonderful husband surprised me with tickets to see WICKED this afternoon! We’re headed down to Providence to have a lovely late lunch and see the show. I hope you are all enjoying your holiday weekend!!!

A Healthy Home for Healthy Kids

I’m not sure what it is about this month but I’ve had a lot of people asking me how they can achieve a less toxic environment in their home. I’ve had five people purchase the Shaklee Get Clean Kit and their feedback has been amazing so far (best clean I’ve had in a long time, doesn’t burn out my nose hairs as I clean (I love that one!), doesn’t make my skin hurt, etc). One family decided to make the switch from Seventh Generation, one from what they called ‘traditional’ cleaning products that they would buy at Costco and three from a mix of ‘green’ and ‘traditional.’

When I came across this article today on Healthy Child Healthy World, Raise Healthier Kids with a Healthy Home Cleaning Routine, I thought I would share as it seems like an extension of the conversations I’ve been having. You can read the full article here. I’ve highlighted the pieces that really stood out to me:

Winter Adventure

It’s the calm before the storm here in Boston as we wait for our first major snow ‘event’ of the season to start! I’m not a huge fan of snow but I don’t mind it and I’m really looking forward to trying out our new snow blower! This is our first season with our own snow blower and I have visions of it making all the difference this year. Our driveway is about 5 car lengths long and when we first moved in we thought we could shovel…not so much! We’d come inside and have to drink loads of Shaklee Performance just to be able to move again the next day. I have a feeling we’re still going to need the Performance after tomorrow since we’re supposed to get 15″ but I’m excited to try the snow blower!

Rachel Ray and Shaklee!

I love when products I believe in so strongly get national attention! Check out this video from Rachel Ray’s The Dish about the Get Clean products.

I actually just cleaned my bathroom this morning and have to say that I adore the Get Clean products. Because they don’t have soap or harsh chemicals they don’t leave any of that nasty soap scum so cleaning is super easy.