Children more susceptible to environmental carcinogens

Children are more vulnerable to carcinogens than are adults. Children have many more years of life ahead of them after a toxic exposure in which to develop a tumour.

Malignant transformation is a slow process. Children's ability to detoxify environmental chemicals is not fully developed. They lack certain mechanisms possessed by adults that enhance the removal of toxic chemicals from the body.

Thus children's exposures to environmental carcinogens must be minimised.

There are many reasons why toxic chemicals are greater threats to children than to adults.

— Pound for pound, children breathe more air, drink more water and consume more food than adults. This higher rate of intake means that children will receive higher doses of whatever contaminants are present in the air, water or food.

(In the US, it has been estimated that children aged 1-5 eat 3-4 times more per unit of body weight than the average adult. Infants and children drink more than 2 1/2 times as much water daily as adults do as a percentage of body weight. And the air intake of a resting infant is twice that of an adult under the same conditions.)

— Children are also more susceptible to chemicals because of their smaller size. For example, a typical newborn weighs 1/20 of the weight of an adult male, but the infant's surface area is 1/8 as great. Therefore, the total area of skin that could be exposed to a chemical (by bathing in polluted water or rolling in dirt for instance) is 2 1/2 times as great per unit of body weight in the infant as in the adult.

— Children absorb a greater proportion of many substances from the intestinal tract or lung. For example, children take up approximately half of the lead that they swallow while adults absorb only about one-tenth.

— Children indulge in more hand-to-mouth activity than adults and transfer more foreign substances into their bodies through this route. Since children often play in the dirt, they are also closer to the source of many pollutants.

— Children's biology is different. Their immune system is less developed, and may be less protective. For some toxicants, the body has developed biochemical detoxifying mechanisms; in some instances, these are less developed in children.

— Cells that are developing (in children) are generally more vulnerable than cells that have completed development (in adults). This is particularly true for the central nervous system.


How to be positive

MAY has a wonderful life. She has a loving husband, two healthy children and a cosy home. Her outlook is optimistic. When things get tough she reaches out to her husband and to her friends for support.

May is not afraid to say that she is having a bad day or the reason why. She doesn’t hold grudges and she tries to give others the benefit of the doubt. She doesn’t believe that one bad thing leads to another either.

May looks for the best in each situation and trusts that things always work out for the better. She is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and make things happen. Most importantly, May is grateful for the abundance in her life every day.

KIM also has a good life. She too has a loving husband who adores her, two healthy children and a cosy home.

However, Kim’s outlook is pessimistic. When things get tough she blames herself and thinks that somehow she is cursed with bad luck. Instead of reaching out to friends for support, Nancy bottles up her emotions, and reaches for food or alcohol instead.

Moreover, she holds grudges and is mistrustful of others. Kim focusses on the worst-case scenario and fears that things will only get worse.

She is constantly afraid that her husband will divorce her, that her children will turn against her, and that she will lose her home.

Kim takes a passive approach to her happiness, believing that fate has dealt her a certain hand and that there is nothing she can do to ensure her happiness.

Instead of being grateful for all that she has, she worries about losing it all.

Which person do you identify with? What’s your attitude towards life? Are you a “sunshine person” or a “cloud person”?

Your attitude determines how circumstances impact your life. The good news is, optimism is a life skill that can be learned. Here are 6 ways to be a happy, smiling, “sunshine person” from Edel Jarboe’s “Learning Optimism” article in The Insight Newsletter (an online self-help magazine).

1 OVERCOME NEGATIVE THINKING WITH POSITIVE THINKING. Our negative thoughts have a great deal of power over us. They feed on themselves, multiplying until our spirit is smothered under a pile of “what ifs”.

Since negative thinking is a habit we must replace it with another habit. Start by paying attention to your thoughts. When you catch yourself indulging in a negative thought, say, “Stop”.

Then immediately rephrase the negative statement into something more positive.

2 LEARN TO TRUST OTHERS. When you reach out to others you find yourself. If you have a hard time trusting others, begin reaching out to others in small ways. Take small steps towards building your trust in others.

First of all, be yourself then be willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume the new member of your games club doesn’t like you, for example, just because she disagreed with your assessment of the last badminton match you played.

3 DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPRESS YOURSELF. Identify what you are feeling and learn how to express these feelings in healthy and constructive ways.

If you aren’t comfortable opening up with another person just yet, start out by writing down what you are feeling. Really get into it. Let your emotions flow across the page.

After you are comfortable expressing your emotions on paper, share what you are feeling with someone you trust. Don’t assume that no one wants to hear about your day, for example. Rather when you share something amusing or frustrating about your day with someone, it opens a bridge of understanding.

4 STOP LIVING UP TO OTHER PEOPLE’S EXPECTATIONS. When you are living your life exclusively to please others or to project a certain image, you lose a bit of yourself in the process. You lose touch with who you really and what really makes you happy. Don’t do this to yourself.

Stop looking for approval outside of your own heart. Whose love or approval are you trying to earn and why? Once you figure this out, have the courage to deal with this issue head-on and begin living your life for you.

5 GET RID OF A VICTIM MENTALITY. Take responsibility for your happiness because life doesn’t just happen. The choices you make or don’t make directly influence your current and future situation.

While you may not always be in control of circumstances, you are responsible for your choices. Never forget this. Stop blaming others and life in general for where you are now. Own up to your life so that you can own your happiness.

In other words, don’t be shy about making things work out for yourself. Don’t be shy about reaching for your happiness with both hands.

6 EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE, NOT YOUR FEARS. What you focus on is what you get. The more you focus on the negative, the more it is manifested in your life. Stop focussing so much on what you do not have or on what is not working out as you had planned.

Make the conscious effort to focus on all that is good and abundant in your life and to look for the lesson in your difficult situations.

Believe that something better than what you had imagined is in store for you. Believe that your happiness is a sure thing and it will be.

Inspiring Quotes

“Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilised with constant repetition.”

“The pleasure you get from your life is equal to the attitude you put into it.”

“Your success, health, happiness and wealth can be attributed to the choice of your attitude.”

“The most significant decision you can make on a day-to-day basis is the choice of your attitude.”

Don’t become a “negaholic”. Choose to be positive — the positive mind has extra solving power!


The most beautiful flower

The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read
beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree
Disillusioned by life, with good reason to frown
for the world was intent on dragging me down

And if that weren’t enough to ruin my day
a young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play
He stood right before me with his head tilted down
and said with great excitement, “Look what I found!”

In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight
with its petals all worn — not enough rain or too little light
Wanting him to take the dead flower and go off to play
I faked a small smile and then shifted away

But instead of retreating he sat next to my side
placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise
“It sure smells pretty and it’s beautiful too.
That’s why I picked it; here, it’s for you.”

The weed before me was dying or dead
not vibrant of colours: orange, yellow or red
But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave
so I reached for the flower and replied, “Just what I need.”

But instead of placing the flower in my hand
he held it mid-air without reason or plan
It was then that the gears started running in my mind
That weed-toting boy could not see; he was blind

I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun
as I thanked him for picking the very best one
“You’re welcome,” he smiled, and then ran off to play
unaware of the impact he’d had on my day

I sat there and wondered how he managed to see
a self-pitying man beneath an old willow tree
How did he know of my self-indulged plight?
Perhaps from his heart, he’d been blessed with true sight

Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see
the problem was not with the world; the problem was me
And for all those times I myself had been blind
I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that’s mine

And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose,
breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose
and smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand
about to change the life of an unsuspecting old man

— Author unknown

Simple solutions to troubling problems

A lot of us are faced with problems that hamper our everyday lives and daily chores. Some are difficult to handle but many can be settled with simple solutions.
You can stop a fall from fracturing you … by following the time-tested trick of "hit 'n' roll."

Most of us instinctively stick out an arm when tripping, a move that breaks bones with more serious drops.

For bad spills, curl into a ball as much as possible: Tuck arms to sides and chin to chest to shield your vital organs, spine and head, and keep feet and knees together to protect your legs.

The best way to land is on your feet with knees bent. If you can't land feet first, head for padded body parts — such as your upper arms, thighs and rear (but not flat on your rump) — and roll a little.

The hit 'n' roll manoeuvre spreads the fall's force across cushioned areas of your body rather than putting it on one spot.
You can rise from your chair more easily if you suffer from arthritis or leg weakness … by selecting chairs with armrests to hoist yourself.

Pushing off the armrests with your hands and upper-arm strength while leaning slightly forward gives you leverage without putting undue pressure on aching joints.

You can strangle symptoms of mild anxiety before they choke you
… by merely focusing on how you breathe when you're nervous, rather than trying to breathe more "naturally."

It's a stalling tactic that temporarily takes your mind off what's making you anxious.

Most people tend to pace their breaths — force them into a rhythm — when they get nervous, which can sometimes backfire by making them only more aware of their anxiety.

Of particular importance is to avoid hyperventilating — so common when you're anxious — which often results from overbreathing.

For example, when you're jittery before giving a speech, focus your attention on taking slow, deep breaths so your abdomen and chest both expand.

You can sidestep hip and back problems when getting out of your car … by lifting and swinging both legs out the door before standing.

This prevents aggravation of existing hip and back pain by locking together your legs and pelvis, allowing you to rotate on your rear and carry your back with you.

The one-foot-at-a-time method pressures your back to twist away from your hips, straining both parts of your body.

Once you've placed both feet on the ground, you can then face out the door and rise with less pain.

Home cures for common illnesses

MANY of us tend to run to a doctor at the slightest sign of ill-health. But drugs do not guarantee a cure. In fact, some medicines may do more harm than good. Taking antibiotics for a simple bout of diarrhoea for instance, may aggravate your condition.


Simple ailments like coughs and colds, headaches, sore throat and constipation can easily be treated at home at minimum cost and maximum safety. Drugs are not always necessary as our body has its own natural defences to fight off diseases. So why take unnecessary risks?

Below we bring you natural home remedies for several mild health problems.

Colds and flu

YOU don't need to see a doctor for these unless they last for more than a week or are accompanied by fever.
— Take plenty of water and have adequate rest.
— Eat lots of fruits like oranges (or drink the juice) and guava.
— To relieve blocked nose, take deep breaths of hot water vapour for 15 minutes several times a day. All you have to do is sit on a chair with a bucket of hot water at your feet. Cover your head over the bucket with a sheet and breathe in the rising vapour. Alternatively, you can put a little salt water in your cupped hands and sniff it into the nose. Or breathe in the scent of crushed or chopped garlic several times a day.
— Take chicken soup. Indians usually prepare their own soup, rasam, from garlic, cummin seeds, black pepper, tamarind, asafoetida, chilli and ginger.
— Crush some ginger and extract 1 teaspoon of the juice. Sweeten with honey and take this three times a day for four days.


COUGHING is our body's way of getting rid of phlegm and germs in the throat or lungs. Medicines are usually not necessary unless symptoms persist or there's blood in the phlegm.
— Drink plenty of plain water.
— Breathe in hot water vapour to clear the nose.
— Have 1 to 2 glassfuls of plain cabbage juice a day.
— Boil three carrots for 15 minutes, extract the juice and mix it with water to make half a glassful. Drink hot five or six times a day.
— Boil three onions cut in quarters in 1/2 litre water for 5-10 minutes, strain the mixture, sweeten and drink as much as possible throughout the day.


MILD fevers are not life-threatening. You can easily bring the temperature down without having to see a doctor.
— Remove all clothing or wear loose clothes made from thin material so that your body gets lots of fresh air.
— Get someone to fan your body. It helps lower the body temperature.
— Sponge the whole body with a wet towel. If this is not possible sponge the chest and forehead constantly till fever subsides.
— Take soft foods like porridge and soft-boiled rice, and drink plenty of plain water or fruit juices.
— Wash a fistful of green peas thoroughly and let them dry. Fry without oil, place in a cup, add cold water and leave for a while before drinking.

Headaches and migraine

— Boil a handful of kangkung and then pound till fine. Pour a glass of water over it, add a pinch of salt, strain and drink the solution.
— Crush a few bulbs of fresh garlic and rub on the forehead.
— Apply thinly sliced potatoes on forehead. Replace with fresh ones as they dry up.
— Cut a lemon in half. Apply each half to each temple and hold them in place for 10-15 minutes with a handkerchief or scarf bound round your head.


— Put 1 teaspoonful salt in a glass of warm water and gargle.


— Drink plenty of water.
— Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and foods rich in fibre, eg wholemeal bread.
— Boil 1kg carrots in a litre of water for 2 hours. Then, blend in a liquidiser or rub through a sieve. Drink the soup.


— Drink plenty of water.
— Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) may also help. Put 2 level tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a litre of boiled water (you can add 1/2 cup orange juice or a little lemon juice if you like). Drink every five minutes day and night until you begin to urinate properly. A child may need to drink at least 1 litre a day.
— Drink plain, strong tea (you may add fried cummin seeds or lime juice to it).
— For babies, boil poppy seeds (kas-kas), grind and mix with milk.


NOT dangerous in young children and swellings usually go away by themselves in 2 weeks. Mumps leave a strong, natural, active immunity so your child seldom gets a second attack.
— Give him plenty of water to drink and also soft food that he can eat easily.

Sores with pus

— Wash sores well with soap and boiled water, as long as there is pus.
— Leave small sores open to air and bandage large sores. Change bandage frequently.
— Tell your child not to scratch the sores as this would spread the infection.


ONE attack leaves permanent protection against future infections. It is usually not dangerous and passes away on its own.
— Tell your child not to scratch the rash. As a further precaution against bacterial infection, cut and clean his fingernails often and give him daily baths.
— Remove the dry crusts of blisters with compresses.