Toxic substances in drinking water, food, food packaging and personal care products, as well as exposure to harmful UV rays have all been linked to serious health problems that affect many American men.
A new guide from Environmental Working Group offers simple steps that men can take to reduce the risks.
“Most men understand that smart lifestyle choices — such as exercising regularly, eating a healthful diet and not smoking — make a big difference in staying healthy,” said EWG research analyst Paul Pestano, author of the new guide, “Men’s Health: What You Don’t Know Might Hurt You.”
“However, what many men might not know is that research in the last few decades has shown that environmental exposures may contribute to major diseases and health concerns that especially affect men, including heart disease, prostate cancer and infertility,” added Pestano.
Mercury from certain seafoods, Teflon chemicals in non-stick cookware, bisphenol-A (BPA) in hard plastic containers and canned foods as well as the arsenic and lead present in much of the nation’s drinking water — all have been linked to risk factors for heart disease.
The plastics chemical BPA, certain agricultural pesticides common on some fruits and vegetables and polychlorinated biphenyls that build up in meat and dairy products have all been associated with prostate cancer.
Also, several studies have linked sperm deficiencies to a variety of environmental factors, including exposures to lead, chemicals in personal care products and pesticides.
EWG’s guide also features a section on skin cancer, because many men don’t know that they are at a higher risk than women of developing it and dying from its most fatal form, melanoma.
“While genetics can predetermine certain health outcomes, there are a number of ways men can dramatically reduce their potentially harmful environmental exposures,” Pestano said. “EWG’s new online guide gives men a series of helpful and easy tips to steer clear of these potentially troublesome risk factors.”
EWG’s tips for men include:
• Invest in the right in-home water filter system to reduce exposure to lead, arsenic and other drinking water contaminants.
• Avoid canned foods and plastic containers with the recycling code #7 to dramatically lower exposure to BPA.
• Choose conventionally grown fruits and vegetables that have the fewest pesticide residues and buy the organic versions of produce on EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, which consistently have the most.
• Consult EWG’s Skin Deep database of nearly 80,000 personal care products to find deodorants, soaps, lotions and shampoos that are free of toxic chemicals.
• Learn more about skin cancer and melanoma, use proper sun protection, get regular skin checks with a dermatologist. And use EWG’s online guide to sunscreens to find the safest, most effective sunblock products.