Breast cancer is one of the world’s most terrifying diseases. Earlier this month, Huntington High School Advanced Placement Environmental Science classes went on a “in school” field trip to investigate how daily life items can increase or decrease a person’s risk of developing this deadly cancer.
Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition President Karen Miller and Associate Executive Director Melanie Grabell led the presentation, which captured the undivided attention of the teenagers.
“They enlightened us on ways to take action to prevent cancer, including making conscious decisions about what household items and personal care products we use and encouraged us to share with others some of the helpful tips,” science teacher Nicole Cooper said.
Many Huntington High School students have participated in high level internships sponsored by the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition. The internships have brought the teenagers to some of the top medical labs and hospital facilities in the country.
“Karen and Melanie explained to us that everyday skincare products, such as deodorant, lotion, perfume, and many other beauty products, contain so many harmful chemicals,” Ms. Cooper said. “These chemicals, especially parabens, phthalates found in fragrances and triclosans, are linked to the development of breast cancer in both men and women and prostate cancer in men because they mimic estrogen and other hormones in the body.”
The Huntington AP Environmental Science students were stunned to hear that women are exposed on avearge to 168 chemicals a day through the use of beauty products. The presentation included a discussion of how chemicals in different types of plastics can also be carcinogenic as they are made from petroleum.
“We learned more about organic foods and how they are a healthier alternative because of the risk associated with some of the pesticides used in inorganic foods,” Ms. Cooper said.
Students walked away with a new appreciation of what they can do to lower their individual risk profiles for contracting breast cancer and cancer in general.
“It was an honor to host Ms. Miller and Ms. Grabell, because they truly make an impact on lives in our community,” Ms. Cooper said. “Their goal is not just to support those who have cancer, but more importantly to prevent people from getting cancer going forward. It is important to understand and learn about cancer prevention to reduce exposure to cancer risk factors so that we endure a happy and healthy future. We have all been made much more aware of the harmful chemicals we put in and on our bodies every day and how to minimize this exposure.”