5 Ways to Avoid Toxins

5 Ways to Avoid Toxins

3 min read

We unfortunately live in a world with pollution around every corner. However, with a little “know-how” we can take control over what we bring into our homes and put into our bodies. Simple everyday changes can help drastically reduce your exposure to toxins, let’s discuss five simple changes you can make today to protect yourself and your family from toxic chemicals. 

1. Replace Air Fresheners and Incense with Soy or Beeswax Candles

Many households use aerosol sprays to freshen up the air in their living spaces, bathrooms, or workplaces. Air fresheners expose our respiratory systems to unnecessary, potentially toxic chemicals. The chemicals used may have different names, such as ‘parfum’ or ‘fragrance,’ but the majority of these aerosols are what are known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Exposure to VOCs over time may lead to diseases of the kidneys, liver, and nervous system. Additionally, harmful emissions can come from air fresheners. In fact, more toxic emissions can come from burning incense than a cigarette. Research has shown that constant exposure to incense smoke may lead to heart disease, stroke, and lung disease. Instead of burning incense or using air fresheners, soy or beeswax-based candles are a safer alternative that are not shown to produce toxic emissions, while still providing a soothing and fragrant ambiance to your living space. 

2. Swap Plastic Food Containers for Glass 

While plastics are no longer manufactured using BPAs, known endocrine-disrupting chemicals, newer chemicals have replaced them. However, their status as a safer alternative remains a subject of debate. The plastic used in newer food containers is still under scrutiny for its potential links to cancer and gastrointestinal problems. Toxic chemicals can leach into our food from plastic containers during the reheating process or during storage. Investing in a set of glass containers can pay great dividends to your health by reducing your exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. 

3. Swap out Non-Stick Cookware

The material of the pots and pans we use for cooking can significantly impact our exposure to the toxic chemicals known as PFAS. PFAS, used in Teflon, are the substances responsible for giving cookware its non-stick properties. The risk of contaminating your food with PFAS increases when cookware is scratched or if temperatures get too high. To avoid any risk of PFAS in your food use cast iron, ceramic, or stainless-steel pots and pans.

4. Invest in a Water Filter 

Drinking tap water can be another potential route for PFAS exposure. Luckily, point-of-use home water filters can remove the majority, if not all, of different kinds of PFAS from your home’s tap. 

5. Ditch the “Dirty Dozen” and instead shop for the “Clean 15” 

Glyphosate is the main ingredient of RoundUp® which is a popular pesticide used in conventional agriculture.  Glyphosates have been extensively studied for their negative effects on pregnancy, human development, immune function, gut health, and cancer. Yet, it is possible to reduce exposure to this toxin through dietary changes. For instance, a scientific study demonstrated that levels of glyphosate in the body decreased by as much as 70% in just five days when participants switched to an organic diet.  

Anti-pesticide advocacy groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases a list of the top 12 conventionally produced foods to avoid because of their likelihood of being contaminated with glyphosate and other chemicals. The EWG uses up to date data provided by the FDA. The DIRTY DOZEN™ foods to avoid for 2023, unless grown organically, were strawberries, spinach, greens (kale, collard, and mustard greens), peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and hot peppers, blueberries, and green beans. Additionally, the EWG creates a list of foods that consistently show low levels of glyphosate and other pesticides, regardless of whether they are organic or not. The CLEAN FIFTEEN™ for 2023 consists of avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, onion, papaya, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi, cabbage, mushroom, mango, sweet potato, watermelon, and carrots. 

How to Avoid Toxins in Cosmetics

How to Avoid Toxins in Cosmetics

3 min read

From makeup to skin care, the cosmetic industry offers a vast array of products designed to enhance your appearance and well-being. However, within seemingly harmless bottles and jars lie potential toxins that concern experts and researchers.  

Understanding the presence and impact of toxins in cosmetics is crucial for making informed choices about the products you use on your body. This article will highlight a few controversial ingredients commonly used in cosmetics and their potential health risks.  


Formaldehydes are used in beauty products as a preservative and to prevent bacterial growth. Cosmetics are a common source of formaldehydes that make contact with skin, which can lead to adverse reactions.   

Formaldehydes may be found in nail polish, nail hardener, eyelash glue, hair gel, soap, makeup, shampoo, lotion, and deodorant. Additionally, formaldehydes can be “hidden” in cosmetics when listed as different chemicals known as formaldehyde releasers, which slowly decompose and release formaldehyde.  

Formaldehyde Risks 

Formaldehydes pose several potential risks, including a high absorption rate through the skin, DNA mutations within cells, and the formation of cancer-causing compounds when combined with other chemicals.  

  • The toxic effects of formaldehyde can impact the lungs, upper respiratory tract, bone marrow, and brain.  
  • In 2004, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified formaldehyde from “probably carcinogenic to humans” to “carcinogenic to humans.” 
  • A 2021 meta-analysis, which reviewed 21 studies published over the last 20 years, found a link between formaldehyde exposure and cancer. 

If you use cosmetics that contain or are suspected to contain formaldehyde, it’s important to use them before they expire. Prolonged storage and elevated temperatures can contribute to higher levels of formaldehyde, and therefore increase chemical exposure to users.  


Parabens are a group of synthetic chemicals used in cosmetics and foods for their ability to preserve products. The most commonly used parabens on the market are methylparaben (MeP), ethylparaben (EtP), propylparaben (PrP), butylparaben (BuP), and pentylparaben (PeP). 

Paraben Risks 

  • Parabens have been shown to be endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC) in animal studies. While different forms of parabens can have different effects, as a group they can cause weight gain, adrenal dysfunction, and affect hormone levels.  
  • As an EDC, parabens can interfere with estrogen, and have been associated with breast cancer, lower sperm counts, and pregnancy complications.  
  • Parabens in personal care products can be absorbed through the skin and the use of paraben containing products aligns with paraben levels found in or excreted by the body. 
  • Parabens can trigger inflammation, suppress immune function, and generate compounds that cause DNA damage.  

Chemicals Found in Hair Dye and Hair Straighteners   

In the United States and Europe, it’s estimated that 33 – 50% of women use hair dye. The rate of hair dye use may be cause for a public health concern because the chemicals used in these products, p-Phenylenediamine, 2,4-diaminoanisole sulfate, are known carcinogens in animal studies. Additionally, EDC and mutagens are among the roughly 5,000 chemicals that might make up a single hair dye product. 

From 2003 to 2009, 50,884 American women participated in a study known as the Sister Study. Women were eligible to participate if they have never been diagnosed with breast cancer but had at least one sister who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The study found that Black women who used hair dye every 5 to 8 weeks had a 60% higher risk of developing breast cancer. Additionally, using chemical hair straighteners more than four times per year was associated with a twofold increased risk of ovarian cancer. These findings suggest a potential link between the use of hair dye and hair straighteners and an elevated risk of breast and ovarian cancers, particularly among Black women. 

Toxic Metals in Cosmetics 

Toxic elements, like mercury, chromium, lead, cobalt, arsenic, nickel, and cadmium can enter the body through the skin, especially during long-term exposure. Wearing cosmetics throughout the day can be considered long-term exposure. Products like lipstick may be in contact with skin for several hours and can easily be ingested, and face creams or serums, which cover a large surface area, increase skin exposure. Sprayed cosmetics can be inhaled, and products used around the eyes can affect the thin skin surrounding those areas.  

The effects of toxic metals on health vary depending on the metal itself and the route of exposure. Toxic metals can generate compounds that trigger DNA damage and cause cell death. Toxic elements can be found in cosmetics, not as intentional ingredients, but when accidentally added during the manufacturing process.  

A 2022 study on the risk of toxic metals in cosmetics found lead to be highest in face powder, while skin lightning creams showed the highest levels of arsenic and mercury. Eye shadow had the highest concentration of nickel, and blush had the highest concentration of cadmium. These findings highlight the presence of these toxic elements in facial cosmetics and raise concerns about potential health risks associated with their use. 

Download the EWG app or go to Skin Deep to screen your most beloved products and learn where they fall.

Consuming Alcohol in Moderation: Are the National Guidelines Outdated?

Consuming Alcohol in Moderation: Are the National Guidelines Outdated?

2 min read

Alcohol consumption has been part of American culture for generations. But what does the science say about alcohol consumption, and how does that compare to national government guidelines?

The Latest Science

The World Cancer Research Fund report on recommendations for cancer prevention concludes that there is ample evidence that alcohol causes many cancers including head and neck, colorectal, liver, and breast cancer after menopause.

The World Health Organization also states that there is no level of alcohol consumption that is without risk, as over 200 different diseases and conditions are affected by high-alcohol use. In January of 2023, the WHO made a broad statement that no level of alcohol consumption is safe when it comes to human health. 

That stance is not unexpected given the rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, motor vehicle injury, accidental death, and diabetes attributed to alcohol use. 

The National Standards

National governments use the latest evidence to update their standards, but they are often not as progressive nor as timely as the science would support. Recently the Canadian guidelines were updated to recommend no more than two drinks a day. In the United States, the National Institute of Health defines “safe alcohol use” as no more than 4 drinks for men or 3 drinks for women on any day and no more than 14 or 7 drinks per week, respectively. This is much higher than what the WHO recommends. And yet, about 30% of U.S. adults exceed daily limits for alcohol at least once a year.

Image: ACLM Board Review Course 2020 

High-Risk Drinking

There is agreement, however, that unsafe or high-risk alcohol consumption should be avoided completely. Unsafe drinking or high-risk drinking is any amount above moderation. That means having 2 glasses of wine a night and 3 on the weekend would constitute heavy alcohol use, as would drinking 5 beers during a football game.

Binge drinking also qualifies as heavy alcohol use. It’s defined as:

  • Drinking enough so that blood alcohol levels reach 0.08mg/L or legal intoxication.


  • Consuming 5 drinks for men or 4 drinks for women within 2 hours at least once a month.

Why You Should Reconsider Your Alcohol Intake 

Not only is any amount of alcohol potentially risky for cancer and many other chronic conditions, but generally the more often you drink, the more you’ll want. Science shows that chronic alcohol use results in needing more alcohol to achieve the same serotonin high, which means that as alcohol tolerance increases, there is less of an initial “happiness hit.” Consuming more alcohol also leads to a larger drop in serotonin when one comes down from the high, which is a very vicious cycle. Chronic alcohol use can also influence the stress response. This creates a sensation of more stress without alcohol and drives one to drink more frequently.

To Drink or Not to Drink

Ultimately, your choice to drink alcohol is up to you. But we encourage you to think about your alcohol use and how it measures up to the national standards in different countries and the WHO recommendations. The science shows that consuming less alcohol is better for preventing chronic disease, preserving brain health, and preventing the urge to drink more. If you feel you need help with reducing your alcohol intake or want to learn more about how alcohol affects you, consider joining one of our coaching programs for support, guidance, and resources.

How Alcohol and Tobacco Affect Longevity

How Alcohol and Tobacco Affect Longevity

2 min read

Alcohol and tobacco use have well-documented negative effects on health and can have a significant impact on longevity. Here’s a breakdown of how each impacts lifespan: 


  • Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a variety of health problems, including liver disease, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and neurological disorders. 
  • Chronic heavy drinking can cause alcoholic liver disease. This can range from fatty liver to more severe conditions, like cirrhosis, which can significantly reduce life expectancy.  
  • Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of developing heart conditions, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure. Although light alcohol consumption has been shown to have a minimal impact on heart risk, a heavier intake exponentially increases the chances of developing heart disease. 
  • Long-term heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of various cancers, including liver, esophageal, throat, mouth, and breast cancer. 
  • Alcohol can affect the central nervous system and lead to cognitive impairment, memory problems, and an increased risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders like dementia. 
  • Accidents and injuries associated with alcohol use, such as motor vehicle accidents and falls, can also contribute to premature death. 


  • Smoking tobacco is a leading cause of preventable diseases and premature death worldwide. 
  • Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer and increases the risk of developing several other types of cancer, including those of the mouth, throat, esophagus, pancreas, bladder, kidney, and cervix. 
  • Smoking damages the respiratory system and can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and chronic bronchitis, which can significantly reduce life expectancy. 
  • Tobacco use is a major risk factor for heart disease, including artery hardening and stroke. 
  • Smoking weakens the immune system and can increase the risk of infections and respiratory illnesses. 
  • Secondhand smoke also poses health risks, particularly for those who are frequently exposed to it. 
  • Quitting smoking has significant health benefits and can improve life expectancy, even for long-term smokers. 

Overall, both alcohol and tobacco have detrimental effects on health and longevity. It’s important to note that moderation is key when it comes to alcohol consumption, and the best approach is to avoid tobacco altogether. Making healthy lifestyle choices, including maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and avoiding harmful substances, can significantly contribute to a longer, healthier life. 

Risky Substances: Vaping & Tobacco

Risky Substances: Vaping & Tobacco

2 min read

Vaping Risks 

Many people opt for electronic cigarettes or “vapes” because they think they’re safer than cigarettes. But there are a growing number of cases of severe lung illness associated with vaping, particularly products that contain THC-emulsified with vitamin E acetate, known as EVALI.  

Ninety-five percent of EVALI patients experience respiratory symptoms, such as cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Other side effects include fever, chills, and weight loss, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. And as of February 2020, there were over 2,800 reported deaths from EVALI across the United States. 

Vaping Chemicals

The liquids used in electronic cigarettes mainly consist of solvents, which keep nicotine and flavors suspended and generate smoke plumes.  

The most common solvents used are propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG). While the FDA considers propylene glycol as “generally recognized as safe” for ingestion, its aerosol version hasn’t received the same classification.  

Both propylene glycol and glycerol are also known to irritate airways. Exposure to propylene glycol has been linked to chest tightness and wheezing, and symptoms worsen with repeated exposure. Additionally, propylene glycol can cause irritation in the eyes, throat, mucous membranes, and respiratory system, and constrict airways. 

Hidden Metals

Electronic cigarettes are also constructed with various components that can contribute to metal contamination. These include nicotine extract and physical parts of e-cig devices, such as filaments, wicks, sheaths, and joints. Nickel, manganese, zinc, copper, and iron were found to be the most commonly detected metals in e-liquids in high concentrations. Arsenic and other metals or metalloids may also be found. The presence of metals and metalloids in vapes raises concerns, due to their potentially harmful health effects, which may include cancer, heart disease, kidney damage, and neurotoxicity.  

Flavor Dangers

Although the flavors used in e-cigs are considered safe for oral ingestion, they may pose risks when inhaled as vapors. Studies have shown that flavorings, especially when heated by the vape device, react with the solvents in e-liquids or form ultrafine particles that irritate and damage the lungs. In addition, benzene, a known carcinogen, can also be formed through the process of converting cherry-flavored vape products from liquid to gas.  

Heat-Triggered Effects

Vaping devices contain heating coils and studies have shown that the temperature distribution among the coils is not uniform. This results in “hot spots” and temperature inconsistencies, which can lead to formaldehyde formation. Exposure to formaldehyde can cause irritation to the skin, throat, lungs, and eyes, and repeated exposure has been linked to certain types of cancer.  

Health Impacts

Electronic cigarette use has been shown to create airway inflammation after just five minutes of use and trigger respiratory reactions like those seen after smoking cigarettes. Chemicals and metals found in vapes are concerning due to their links to serious health concerns. Currently, the long-term effects of vaping haven’t yet been completed, since vaping is a fairly new trend. But as research continues, additional side effects related to years of e-cigarette use may come to light.  

Avoiding Toxins: What is Glyphosate?

Avoiding Toxins: What is Glyphosate?

3 min read

Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide and the active ingredient in popular weed killers like Roundup. It was first introduced in the 1970s and has since become one of the most extensively used herbicides globally. The reason this is important is because glyphosate is found in a number of commonly eaten foods, including healthy options, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and more.  

Glyphosate has been implicated as a possible endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC), capable of interfering with hormone function. EDCs can mimic, block, or disrupt the action of natural hormones. EDCs can have broad-ranging effects on reproductive health, growth and development, metabolism, immunity, and neurological function.  

Glyphosate and Pregnancy  

In animal studies glyphosate exposure during pregnancy caused abnormalities not only in immediate offspring but also in the following generation. Higher blood levels of glyphosate have been tied to lower birthweights and shorter pregnancies.  

Glyphosate may also affect male fertility. Studies have shown that male rats given glyphosate experienced adverse reproductive effects, such as reduced sperm counts and reduced testosterone levels.  

Glyphosate and Development 

Delayed puberty, infertility problems, and decreased sex hormones are all observed consequences of glyphosate exposure. In animals, glyphosate has been shown to alter the development of the ovaries and uterus. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is another glyphosate concern. Glyphosate is thought to bind to estrogen receptors in females and also disrupt pathways that create male sex hormones. 

Glyphosate and Immune Function 

Glyphosate exposure can affect the immune system by disrupting its natural functions. These include the ability of immune cells to fight off infections. Animal studies have linked glyphosate exposure to fewer immune cells and increased infections.  

Glyphosate and the Gut 

Emerging research suggests that glyphosate may disrupt the digestive tract and the gut microbiome, the community of bacteria and microbes that live in the gut. The effects of glyphosate on intestinal health have also been observed in animal studies, including increased inflammation in the small intestine. 

Glyphosate and Cancer 

The relationship between glyphosate and cancer is a subject of ongoing research and debate. Currently the World Health Organization ranks glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” One study in mice indicated an increased incidence of malignant lymphoma with a high dose of glyphosate. However, it is difficult to conclude that glyphosate poses a cancer risk due to the complex causes of lymphoma and the extremely high dose used in the study. 

However, in a 2019 research review, scientists assessed the relationship between exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). They found that individuals with the highest levels of exposure had a 41% increased risk of developing NHL. These findings support previous evidence from animal research, which shows a strong connection between glyphosate-based herbicide exposure and a higher NHL risk. 

How to Avoid Glyphosate in Your Diet 

As concerns about the potential health risks of glyphosate exposure grow, many consumers seek ways to avoid this herbicide. While it may be challenging to completely avoid glyphosate due to its widespread use, there are strategies to minimize its consumption.  

Glyphosate levels in food vary from product to product and also country of origin. But studies have found that adopting an organic diet can lead to a significant decrease in glyphosate in the body, as much as 70% in five days. 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a list of the top 12 conventionally produced foods to avoid because of their likelihood of being contaminated with glyphosate and other chemicals. The EWG uses up-to-date data provided by the FDA. The DIRTY DOZEN™ foods to avoid for 2023, unless grown organically, were strawberries, spinach, greens (kale, collard, and mustard greens), peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and hot peppers, blueberries, and green beans.  

Additionally, the EWG creates a list of foods that consistently show low levels of glyphosate and other pesticides, regardless of whether they are organic or not. The CLEAN FIFTEEN™ for 2023 consists of avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, onions, papaya, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi, cabbage, mushroom, mango, sweet potato, watermelon, and carrot. 

Avoiding Toxins: What are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)?

Avoiding Toxins: What are Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)?

2 min read

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs), are toxic chemicals that do not break down easily and negatively affect human health and the environment. They include aldrin, chlordane, dieldrin, endrin, heptachlor, HCB, mirex, toxaphene, PCBs, DDT, dioxins, and PCDFs.  

POPs were outlawed in many countries in the early 2000s. However, they’re still found in some pesticides, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Some farmers and manufacturers continue to use POPs illegally or due to a lack of financially viable alternatives.  

What are Health Concerns Related to POPs? 

The body’s endocrine system regulates hormones that contribute to metabolism, reproductive health, and brain function. POPs are considered endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). That’s because the shape of an EDC molecule is similar to hormones in the human body, and this allows EDCs to alter and disrupt normal hormonal responses. 

POPs and the Reproductive System 

POPs can interfere with pregnancy and cause negative health impacts for both the mother and fetus. They are able to cross the placental barrier and accumulate in fetal tissues.  

Studies have shown that prenatal exposure to POPs is linked to a range of adverse fetal effects, including disruptions in growth and development, impaired brain development, and an increased risk of certain birth defects.  

Certain POPs have also been linked to delayed puberty, early onset of menstruation, infertility, and endometriosis due to their hormonal impact.    

POPs have also been associated with:  

  • An increased risk of breast cancer  
  • More aggressive forms of breast cancer 
  • An increase in tumor growth and spread 

POPs and Diabetes 

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) may also be triggered by exposure to POPs. Some studies have linked the presence of certain POPs in the blood with T1D and disruptions in blood sugar metabolism and insulin effectiveness. 

POPs and Metabolic Syndrome  

Metabolic syndrome is the presence of multiple health concerns that raise chronic disease risk. POPs have been associated with many metabolic conditions, such as a higher body mass index (BMI), high blood pressure, poor insulin effectiveness, and high “bad” LDL cholesterol. POPs are suspected to disrupt cell function, and in turn promote inflammation and increase fat tissue. 

POPs and Liver Disease 

Some POPs may also be related to the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This could potentially be due to the ability of POPs to interfere with how liver cells regulate fat metabolism and breakdown. 

Dietary Sources of POPs and How to Reduce Your Exposure 

POPs can be found in fruits and vegetables in varying levels. However, a larger source of concern is animal products. The majority of dietary POPs come from fatty fish, meat, and dairy. In fact, POPs are some of the most frequently detected chemicals found in meat. Even meat labeled organic can still be contaminated with similar or higher amounts of POPs.  

POPs are somewhat difficult to avoid since they easily accumulate in animal tissue, plants, and humans. The best ways to reduce your exposure are to: 

  • Avoid high-fat animal foods 
  • Opt for organic produce when possible 
  • Eat fresh foods as opposed to processed or canned foods, since the packaging may contain POPs 
Avoiding Toxins: Is It Safe to Burn Incense at Home?

Avoiding Toxins: Is It Safe to Burn Incense at Home?

2 min read

What is incense?  

Burning incense is a common practice used in many cultures, tied to tranquility and spirituality. Historically incense has also been used as a mosquito repellent and air purifier. Incense is typically made from a combination of plant materials, such as dried herbs, flowers, resins, and essential oils, which release fragrant smoke when burned. While incense may bring a feeling of serenity and peace, burning it indoors can cause potential health hazards. This article will explore what incense is, its potential risks, and an alternative option.  

What chemicals are found in burned incense?   

The dangers of incense are primarily tied to the release of toxic compounds when incense is burned. In fact, chemical exposure from incense may be four times greater than that from cigarettes.  

Harmful emissions from incense smoke are tied to a range of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitric oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), benzene, and formaldehyde. These substances, when inhaled, can have detrimental effects on your health. 

  • Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to transport oxygen, which can lead to dizziness, headaches, weakness, and nausea, or even severe illness with a higher exposure. 
  • Sulfur dioxide is associated with reduced work capacity, heart and lung complications, and impaired immune function. 
  • PAHs are cancer-promoting, particularly when released indoors.
  • Benzene can cause eye inflammation, nose and throat irritation, nausea, vomiting, headaches, asthma exacerbation, and dizziness. Prolonged exposure can result in serious conditions, such as cancer, liver damage, and harm to the central nervous system. 
  • Formaldehyde is associated with an increased risk of cancer, specifically nasal cancer, and can impair the natural clearance of mucus from the respiratory system, and thereby worsen health issues. 

What are the health risks of burning incense indoors? 

When burning incense indoors, the small particle size within smoke can have negative health effects, regardless of the chemicals it contains. That’s because tiny particles remain in the air for extended periods of time, which makes it easier for them to enter the lungs.  

Research shows that air pollution is a strong risk factor for heart disease and death. This may explain why studies indicate that an increased exposure to small pollutant particles from incense smoke increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

In children, incense burning has been shown to raise the risk of bronchitis, pneumonia, and wheezing. In adolescents, studies have linked reduced overall lung function and other respiratory problems, like asthma, to indoor incense burning.   

What can I do to reduce my health risks?    

To emit aromas without generating significant levels of potentially hazardous substances, consider candles in place of incense. Scented candles seem to pose much lower risks compared to burning incense, including no known heart or lung issues.  

Avoiding Toxins: What are PFAS?

Avoiding Toxins: What are PFAS?

2 min read

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are one of the many types of toxins you’ll encounter in everyday life. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize your exposure to PFAS and reduce their potential health impact. This article will explain what PFAS are, risks associated with them, where they’re found, and how to avoid them.   

What are PFAS?

PFAS are human-made chemicals found in cooking pans, seafood, and even drinking water. In kitchen pans PFAS are used for their non-stick properties and their ability to withstand heat without melting. While they’re helpful in some ways, PFAS have also been linked to negative health effects.  

What are the Risks of PFAS Exposure?

PFAS have been associated with several health issues, including cancer, reproductive risks, and immune system damage, even at low levels of exposure. Recent research has suggested that PFAS can negatively affect hormones, weaken the immune system, and cause cell damage. PFAS have also been shown to disrupt the effects of certain vaccines, which can lead to potential immune system weaknesses. 

In addition, studies show that a higher exposure to PFAS during pregnancy can cause lower infant birth weights and higher thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels, which can cause negative birth outcomes. 

How to Avoid PFAS

PFAS in Water

While the government has taken steps to regulate PFAS contamination, you can also take action to protect your health. For example, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) website allows you to look up your municipality’s water report for various contaminants, including PFAS. 

If you’re in an area with high PFAS, we recommend using a water filter. Studies have shown that activated carbon household filters can remove 21% – 99% of 14 different kinds of PFAS. Options include reusable water filtering pitchers or a whole house filter connected via plumbing.  

PFAS in Food

PFAS can also be found in food. Research has found fish, dairy products, and meats to be high sources of PFAS. While we recommend a plant-based diet at Love.Life, we recognize that you may choose to include animal products. If so, take caution to limit PFAS, particularly in seafood. One study found the highest PFAS concentrations in clams and crabs, followed by cod, tuna, pollock, tilapia, salmon, and shrimp. 

PFAS in Cookware

PFAS are found in many cookware items and may lead to exposure if used incorrectly. Generally speaking, if your cookware is labeled as “non-stick” or “Teflon,” it likely contains PFAS. Cast-iron and stainless-steel pots and pans are highly unlikely to contain PFAS and are a safer alternative. 

If you use non-stick pans, avoid scratching them with sharp utensils, such as metal spatulas or forks, as doing so can add PFAS to your food. Opt for a rubber spatula or plastic tongs to avoid damaging the pan’s coating. Some research also suggests that PFAS can be released at temperatures of 350°F or greater. To avoid this risk, don’t preheat your non-stick cookware on a burner without food in the pan.  

Avoiding Toxins: Phthalates

Avoiding Toxins: Phthalates

< 1 min read

Phthalates are a commonly used group of chemicals known to pose health risks, including hormone disruption.  They’re often used as additives in plastic products, nail polish, cosmetics, and food packaging. You can be exposed to phthalates through items that have come into contact with phthalate-containing materials and through the air. This article covers health risks associated with phthalates and how to reduce your exposure.  

Impact on Hormones and Reproductive Health

Your body’s endocrine system regulates your hormones. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which include phthalates, can disrupt this system and impact growth, development, metabolism, reproduction, and behavior. Phthalates have been found to specifically affect reproduction hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. 

In men this can lead to decreased sperm concentrations, reduced sperm motility (movement), and overall infertility.  Research has even linked phthalates to testicular defects when a mother is exposed during pregnancy. In addition, maternal and paternal exposure to phthalates before conception can increase the risk of preterm birth. 

In women, phthalates have also been tied to a higher infertility risk as well as pregnancy disruptions and breast tumor development.  

Phthalates in Food

Food is a significant source of phthalate exposure. Some research shows that vegetarian diets are associated with lower urine phthalate levels, even after eliminating meat for a short time. Phthalates are consistently found in high concentrations in foods like dairy products and meats, especially chicken and fish. 

Unfortunately consuming an all-organic diet may not decrease phthalate levels. While research is somewhat conflicting on the highest sources of phthalates in the diet, we recommend a mostly plant-based diet at Love.Life, to potentially limit phthalate exposure and minimize its risks.  


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