It is despicable that hundreds of Syrians are dying from chemical weapon assaults. It is even worse that hundreds of thousands of Americans are slowly dying each year as a result of chemical weapons, and we are not even aware of it. As opposed to the volatile, hazardous, overtly poisonous chemical weapons used in Syria, the chemical weapons used in the United States are subtle, insidious and accepted in the general population.
A chemical weapon is defined as a chemical delivered in a vehicle that causes toxicity and early death in human beings. In the United States, chemicals — organic and inorganic — such as benzene found in tobacco smoke, ethanol found in alcohol and saturated fats and glucose found in fast foods are deviously delivered in various vehicles such as attractive cigarettes, large thirst-quenching beverages, mouth-watering cheeseburgers, and cheap supersized meals that cause significant long-term toxicity to the human body resulting in numerous illnesses and early death.
The Centers for Disease Control recently released a report that one-fourth of heart attacks, the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, can be prevented by not smoking, diligent diet, and weight management.
Also, cancer and stroke, the second and third leading cause of death in the U.S., are also heavily associated with preventable risk factors.
It is very important that we take actions to remove chemical weapons from Syria, but it is even more important that we act to remove the chemical weapons in our own backyard for the health and well being of our own population.
Damien Hansra, MD, Miami