Couch Potato Curse: Where’s the real danger?

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

I try to eat well. I know that I should exercise, and I frequently do, although certainly not as often as I should. I don’t smoke and I know that being around people who smoke is harmful. But toxic chemicals coming from my couch? That is a little more than my brain can digest.

Two articles in the New York Times this week (Eat Like a Mennonite and  Warnings from a Flabby Mouse) give me pause. They both reference endocrine inhibiters, whatever in the world those are.

Apparently, these are chemicals that can mimic or disrupt hormones and, while the science is still evolving in this area, these chemicals appear to be closely linked to several cancers.

We are always hearing about new things that are bad for us – and frequently, those things have become fundamental aspects of our modern culture.

If it turns out that plastics really are bad for us, just think of all of the things we use every day without even thinking about it that are made from just this material. It boggles the mind.

And then they talk about things like toxins emanating from car interiors, and shampoos, and couches, and cosmetics. It is exhausting.

I live in Colorado. It is unbearably dry here and I have a lotion and some sort of lip product in extensive use at all times. Is this dangerous? And does that mean sunscreen is dangerous? Which is worse for me – wearing sunscreen or not wearing sunscreen?

I don’t have children and can’t imagine trying to work through all of this to make sure one is doing the best one can for a child -just trying to navigate these waters for myself is overwhelming. I know my new year’s resolution is to let it be – and I am trying to do that. But I hope that there are some smart grownups somewhere in some agency who are helping make sure that my chapstick is not killing me.

Suzie chapstick always looked pretty healthy to me, but does anyone know where she is now????

What do you think? How do you navigate all of the health information that comes your way, especially about things that are non-food related? Does any of this worry you? Have you taken any steps to change your eating habits or other lifestyle choices because of this type of information?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!


Filed under Culture, Environment, Fitness, Food, Health, Parenting, Role of Government

42 responses to “Couch Potato Curse: Where’s the real danger?

  1. Jenni, good post. There are two wonderful books written by Dr. Sandra Steingraber – “Living Downstream” and “Raising Elijah” which are must reads for every parent, but especially environmentally interested ones. I must give some of the plots away as each will scare the crap out of you. She is a bladder cancer survivor and her mission as biologist and ecologist is to highlight the toxic chemicals in the environment. Remember those plastic raincoats we wore as kids – they were loaded with toxins. If you don’t want to read her books check out “Raising All of Our Elijahs” last spring on my blog. Many thanks for raising this issue. It is much larger than any of us could imagine. BTG

  2. Generally, I just try to live my life. I’m not a germophobe, so I don’t religiously do the things that germophobes do. We’re surrounded by stuff made from petrochemicals, so unless folks want to live like they’re back in the pioneer days, it’s sort of hard to avoid all that.

    My prescription is to do things that promote health. Eat foods high in anti-oxidants, and eat foods that is as close to real food as possible (non-GMOs, organic, local if possible, and non-processed). Get outside. A lot. Keep up that exercise habit. These things promote good nutrition, resistance to cancers and a robust immune system. And if nothing else, keep it simple. A simple life (pared down of all the ‘must-have’ products that are being pushed on us) might be the best thing of all.

  3. I think if you eat stuff that grows from the Earth and stay away from the stuff that comes from a box or a bag….also buy organic products for your lips, hair, etc…. you should be pretty safe.

  4. It’s very scary to read all these things. I try to buy things without preservatives, and I buy organic when I can (but sometimes it’s just so expensive). And when possible, I buy things packaged in glass containers instead of plastic or metal. It’s unnerving that chemicals are lurking EVERYWHERE, so being informed about this stuff is so important.

  5. One could make themselves totally crazy trying to take the advice given in every report that says something new is bad for you…or worse when they say something is bad and then it turns out to be good and then it’s bad again. I think we need to take this things with a grain of salt and do the things that we think are right for us…

    I remember when i was a teenager, they said our water might cause cancer 20 years down the road and I thought if I don’t drink water I will die in a few days…

  6. Eating food these days is like taking your car to the mechanic for repairs: you have to trust the provider to be telling the truth. It’s very hard to know what to eat any more! Good blog, Jen. It’s good to have you back!

  7. Anonymous

    When my kids were very young, I really freaked out about lead. We lived in an old house, and I found out there was lead in some of our windows. As I researched the issue, I learned that though lead was dangerous, one reason so many poor kids had lead poisoning was due to poor diet combined with peeling paint that kids would ingest. My kids had a balanced diet, my house was clean, and the paint was not peeling. We had consistent and quality health care, so my kids’ blood lead levels were monitored. The point? Balance and education, combined with good diet and healthy habits are the only way to protect ourselves.

  8. Everything in moderation. Everywhere we turn there’s more information coming at us about what is bad. I love coffee for example, but I’ve read many articles both saying how good it is for us and how bad it is for us. I just try to educate myself as best I can and then make informed decisions. It’s all we can really do. Great post.

  9. I believe you are on to something here Jennie. I’m with Lady Lovely. Everything in Moderation. (Now, only to execute)….Good post. Dave

  10. I agree with David and Lady Lovely…I find myself often feeling paralyzed by all that science continues to uncover and define as unhealthy. At the end of the day, nothing bears up under scrutiny, all is imperfect (even the most gorgeous flower – if you stare at it long enough you will see something that is not perfection). So I move forward trying to focus on moderation..

  11. I guess I’m in the “trust the provider” category that Hugh mentions. and I also agree with Diana up there. there are just too many things out there that are purported to be bad for you. so, who do you believe? and I’m with the poster that said “I just live my life”. This might sound morbid, but when it’s your time “to go”, it’s your time to go. I was at a sad memorial yesterday for a friend who was 40 that lost her battle with cancer. It’s very sad, I shed a lot of tears and still can’t believe she’s gone. But, it was her time to go. Just like it was my father’s time to go when he was 51…..obviously there are many examples. And these serve as reminders to live each day to the fullest, at least for me and especially after the loss of my young friend. Make each day count. Okay, I am done pontificating. 🙂

    • I love when people pontificate!! I think you’re probably right about the time to go, although that can be very hard to come to terms with. But just live your life sounds like the right advice. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  12. As we get more and more enveloped by technology, I fear there would be no place to go and hide in. Whether we like it or not, this is the sad outcome of our unbridled consumerism.


  13. Considering I can’t live in a bubble, which at this point I really wouldn’t mind. I try to do the best I can by keeping my food real, organic and whenever possible local.

  14. All of those “voices” is, in part, what drew me into the blogging world. It’s enough to drive you crazy. I take it in steps and do what I can without turning my life upside down.

  15. P.S. secret informant third hand, from official of some sort, somewhere, don’t heat stuff in microwave in plastic of any kind. Sorry no specifics…sounds more cryptic than it should, but no details allowed.

  16. Pingback: Couch Potato Curse: Where’s the real danger? | day3of

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