Survivor Builds 'Cancer-Fighting' House09/02/11
FRIDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- At age 36, Charles Ruma had
a wife, young son and a successful career as a home builder. His
diagnosis with testicular cancer came as a shock.
"At the time I thought cancer was a disease of the older population," Ruma said. "I felt healthy and strong and I had no idea anything was wrong. It was scary to hear those words."
During his recovery from surgery to remove the tumor, Ruma
decided he wanted to do something to aid the fight against
So Ruma, with the help of experts at the Ohio State University
Comprehensive Cancer Center at Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital
where he was treated, put his skills to work and built "Home for
Hope," a "cancer-fighting" house, using materials that are free of
carcinogens and a layout designed to promote the sort of healthy
lifestyle that studies suggest offers some protections from
In the kitchen of the 3,100-square-foot house in Dublin, Ohio,
there's a steam oven, a cooking method that helps to retain
nutrients in food and prevents meats from becoming charred. Meat
cooked to high temperatures by frying or grilling over an open
flame, especially if it's charred or well-done, has been linked to
pancreatic cancer, studies suggest.
In the yard, they planted a vegetable garden with assorted
fruits and vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower,
blackberries, blueberries and tomatoes. Though no one food has been
proven to prevent cancer, research does show that a plant-based
diet may help, according to the American Institute for Cancer
Research shows that a diet high in animal fats may increase risk
of colon cancer, and that eating a diet high in fiber may help
prevent it, said Dr. Steven Clinton, a professor of medical
oncology and director of genitourinary oncology at James Cancer
Obesity has also been linked to certain types of cancers,
including colorectal, breast and kidney, Clinton said. To encourage
exercise, the "cancer-fighting" house is built next to a park with
walking and hiking trails, and features a home gym over the
When building the house, Ruma also chose the materials
carefully, including using formaldehyde-free insulation.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
formaldehyde is widely used in the manufacture of building
materials such as pressed wood products. Formaldehyde is on the
EPA's list of known carcinogens. Research has shown the chemical
causes cancer in animals and "may cause cancer in humans," the EPA
In the 1970s, many homeowners used foam insulation in their wall
cavities that contained formaldehyde, and shortly after
installation, the homes were found to have higher than normal
concentrations of the chemical in the air, according to the
However, few homes use that sort of insulation today, and even
in older homes, formaldehyde emissions fall over time and the old
insulation is not likely to be a problem today, according to the
Other features: an indoor air filter that uses technology used
in intensive care units of hospitals; paint and stain that's low in
volatile organic compounds, some of which the EPA also lists as
known or suspected carcinogens; and other "green" building
materials that are free of potentially harmful chemicals or other
No one is suggesting that if you paint your house you're going
to get cancer, Clinton said. "It's unclear how much it would take
to cause cancer, or what combinations of chemicals would cause it,
what kind of cancer you'd get, and what the other susceptibilities
are," Clinton said. "But the general principle of minimizing your
exposure is one we can all adhere to."
Ruma broke ground last December and put the finishing touches on
the house in May. The house was auctioned off June 25 and sold for
$400,000. Nearly $70,000 in profits went to the James Cancer
Hospital and Livestrong, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Armstrong,
a champion cyclist, is a fellow testicular cancer survivor.
It's hard to say to what extent a home with these features can
help prevent cancer, Clinton said. "You can't quantify how many of
these items are going to impact your risk, but if you want to live
a long and healthy life, you need to orchestrate your life around
healthy living," he said. "When combined, we think all of these
efforts allow one to do that."
U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on how
lifestyle can help prevent cancer.
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