Innovative design cuts cancer risks; remodeling ideas could work for you, too
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Between eating right, exercising and avoiding things like tobacco and too much alcohol - it’s no secret that how you live can impact your risk of getting cancer.
But what about where you live? How much of a role does your home play in your risk of cancer?
“Every little thing that you can do, with regards to your lifestyle, may impact the future” said Dr. Steven Clinton, MD, PhD of Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital.
And that includes the surroundings you create in your own home.
In an effort to build what may be the first “cancer-fighting” house, Dr. Clinton teamed up with Charles Ruma, president of Virginia Homes, who is not only a contractor but a cancer survivor-turned-advocate. During his career Ruma has designed and built hundreds of homes, but none more inspired than the grey two story home he recently completed in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb northwest of Columbus.
“In 2006 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer” said Ruma. “I was 36 years old, and seemingly very healthy. But during a routine physical doctors found it, and it was a very scary time for me.”
Fortunately, Ruma’s cancer was caught early and he was cured after undergoing surgery at Ohio State University’s James Cancer Hospital. But Ruma didn’t want his saga to end there. “This idea popped into my head that we could build a home, auction it, and donate all the proceeds to support the fight against cancer” he said. “It’s something we do every day and by (simply) giving our time and resources, we could not only raise awareness, but certainly a lot of money.”
That’s when Ruma reached out to Dr. Steven Clinton. Together they drew up blueprints for a healthy house that could possibly boasts the lowest risk of cancer possible.
For starters, all the air that comes into the house is cleaned extensively with a filtration system. “This is a specialized system” said Ruma. “It’s a technology that’s used in hospitals and ICU’s. It actually eliminates 99.9% of germs and bacteria within the home.”
And while it comes standard with this particular home, it’s something you could easily add to your home. “It was learned many years ago that folks in ICUs do better with air filtration systems” said Clinton, “and while this technology was very expensive when it first began, it’s evolved into a kind of system that can now be brought into people’s homes.”
Other healthy features include carpets and insulation that are formaldehyde-free, and throughout the home, wood products and paints were chosen with very low levels of V.O.C., or volatile organic compounds. The EPA says high levels of V.O.C.’s can can cause irritation, headaches, nausea, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous systems, and some are known or suspected to cause cancer in animals and humans.*
“We have looked at all the components and all the building products that are used in the home, and we’ve carefully selected items that are manufactured with less chemicals” said Ruma.
But the materials used to build the home are just part of the design. Clinton and Ruma also took lifestyle into consideration.
There is a dedicated space for a home gym to encourage exercise and a garden just steps from the kitchen where fresh fruits and vegetable can be grown. In the kitchen there is a built-in steam convection oven which cooks food while preserving cancer-fighting nutrients.
“When you look at that one thing at a time it may not seem like too much, but when you put them all together, there really is such a thing as composing a healthy lifestyle” said Clinton. “All of these together, I think make this a place where any family is going to be able to live a very healthy and productive life.”
Soon, they’ll get their chance. In June the house was auctioned for $400,000, with proceeds going to The James Cancer Hospital for cancer research and to the Livestrong Foundation, established by fellow testicular cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.
“One of two men and one of three women will face cancer in their lives.** That’s a staggering number” said Ruma. “I think it’s imperative that we all give back and do everything we can within our resources to fight this fight.”
And what better way than this for a contractor and survivor to drive that point “home”?
*An introduction to Indoor Air Quality, Volatile Organic Compounds, United States Environmental Protection Agency, retrieved from: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html
**Lifetime Risk of Developing or Dying From Cancer, American Cancer Society, Retrieved from: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerBasics/lifetime-probability-of-developing-or-dying-from-cancer