Ohio State University chemist Theodore Cook was diagnosed with cancer three years later, and now says toxic aluminum is the only thing he regrets doing. He was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma (TCL) late last year. While managing the cancer turned out to be a dream, the experience still left his chemo-free. Cook, now 30 years older than when he was diagnosed, says he wishes he would have spoken with his doctor more. “But I simply could not speak, ” said Cook, who works in the Ohio State University Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Ohio State University Cancer Research Program.
Although Bartholdt’s case may not be typical, Cook’s experience with PCBs was, until this past summer, considered an accident.
A routine test of cultural assays, commonly used by health care providers to screen for exposure to PCBs, uncovered a number of PCBs in his lab, indicating exposure was likely occurring during an experimental drug screening.
Other self-quarantine patients in his lab who were diagnosed with PCBs were also found to have these kinds of cancers. Despite two commercially approved drugs—Pembrolizumab and Nenivax—which provide similar chemical effects, Cook says his experience with PCBs since the diagnosis would not have been a good scenario for him.
But the chemicals he chose to avoid, he said, are not as toxic as any among those sold under brand name labels. The chemicals in both products have been discontinued in the U. S. according to OSU Health and Human Services Agency guidelines, which exclude the use of cancer-causing chemicals in personal care products.
Cook said he had shopped at several stores prior to relending his Grohmann’s shop to avoid items he said had been exposed to the chemicals, rather than paying the high price of doing so. The store he purchased items from, however, was no longer a part of his shopping.
He is now a responsible shopper and said he would shop at another chain if shelves were bare of other products with PCBs. But he feels better about these risks than he did before his diagnosis by avoiding the chemicals at all costs. “I’m a life-long environmental activist, but this is just under my conscious control, because I know what to do and I can manage my mood, ” Cook said. “But the consequences of my decisions may come as a surprise to some. “