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Can Everyday Things Cause Cancer?

There is something about the familiar that makes us assume it is safe. Rachel Carson observed this nearly 50 years ago in Silent Spring, when she exposed the dangers of toxins in the pesticides, insecticides, and fertilizers being used to grow the food we eat. There is also something about pointing to the potential danger in familiar things that can make one come across as a kook -- paranoid, fringe, alarmist. Indeed, most of us are inclined to dismiss challenges to the familiar, especially if they are things on which we believe ourselves to be dependent, such as cell phones, cosmetics and plastic food containers. Being caught up in the moment has tremendous power to trick us in this way. That is why people throughout history have done astoundingly misguided things that, from a distance, we look back on and wonder: What were they thinking?

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