Monday - Dec 09, 2019

What are the Everyday Chemicals that may Cause Breast Cancer?


Woman covering breast with hand

Every day we are exposed to wide-array of radiation and chemicals from various sources. This prompted environmental health research workers to conduct further studies to get scientific evidence that will tell the public which among the chemicals can be linked to breast cancer.  Exposure to carcinogens increases the risk of getting breast cancer.

Breast Cancer is an invasive malignancy which is common among women in the United States.  It is also one of the leading cause of death for women ages 30 plus to 50 years of age.  Based on the data of the American Cancer Society, the global estimated economic cost of morbidity and mortality from breast cancer is around $88 billion dollar a year.  The incidence varies geographically and over time considering that there are higher rates of breast cancer in more developed countries and in recent generations.

The treatment for breast cancer is without a doubt expensive, devastating and gruelling which costs around $17 billion per year in United States alone.  This is the major reason why authoritative panels are conducting further environmental studies to determine the best preventive measure to solve the problem. Large scales studies aims to determine the potential benefits of enhancing the preventive efforts.

A recent environmental study entitled, “ New Exposure Biomarkers as Tools for Breast Cancer Epidemiology, Bio monitoring and Prevention: A Systematic Approach Based on Animal Evidence”, which was released by Environmental Health Perspectives for the National Health Institute, shed light to various everyday chemicals and physical agents that could be a probable non-genetic cause of breast cancer.  Carcinogens are health hazards that should be seriously taken care of. The public should be aware of the chemical agents that disrupt the normal functioning of the body’s hormone particularly the endocrine disrupting compounds and the physical agents like the ionizing radiation.

The researchers come up with the study because even if the chemicals that cause mammary gland tumours are identified, fewer studies were made to evaluate the other potential chemicals that pose breast cancer risks. The study wants to facilitate an enhanced study of the biomarkers which an exposure to these carcinogens may lead to breast cancer.   Around 102 chemicals were studied that causes rodent mammary tumours.  After which, 17 groups were identified which pauses concern because they are plausibly linked to cause breast cancer.

The scientist who conducted the study is from the non-profit organization called Silent Spring Institute from the Harvard School of Public Health.  They had an extensive study on the epidemiological data that are linked to the mammary tumours found in the animals and then compared it with the existing literature for humans. Ruthann Rodel and his team identified the 17 high-priority chemicals that women should try to avoid if possible to lessen the risk of getting breast cancer.

The group of chemical and physical agents can be found on:

  • Vehicle exhaust
  • Flame Retardants
  • Paint Removers
  • Disinfection by Products For Drinking Water
  • Stain-Resistant Textiles
  • Combustion Chemicals

The flame retardants are commonly used in mattresses, rugs and furniture; stain-resistant textiles on the other hand are used for upholstery for furniture.  Humans can also be exposed to combustion chemicals like butadiene and benzene from exposure to burned or charred food, tobacco smoke, and gasoline and lawn equipment.

Researchers recommend further studies that will determine a solid evidence to link these high-priority chemicals to breast cancer.  For the meantime, the authors encourage the public especially the women to be more careful in prolong exposure to these high-risk chemicals.  Aside from the breast-cancer prevention measures such as avoiding to much alcohol consumption, smoking and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, people should be more careful in having prolonged and direct contact with these chemicals.

Simple measures include reducing exposure from exhaust particularly from fuel or diesel combustion.  Avoid eating charred or burned food.  When roasting don’t burn the meat and always remove the black or charred part because it is carcinogenic. And also, avoid fabrics, furniture and rugs that are stain-resistant.

When buying furniture avoid fixtures with polyurethane foam or preferably ask for foam that is not treated with flame retardants. Purify drinking water using a solid form of carbon-block filter and find dry cleaners who does not use any solvents preferably ask for wet cleaning. Make sure to keep your home clean to prevent bringing in chemicals from the outside.  Remove your shoes when entering the house and use wet rags, vacuum with filter and mop when cleaning.

Studies showed that around 12.4 % of women are at high risk of breast cancer in the US because they may develop the illness at some point in their lives. Along these lines, the study provides a clearer direction for the earlier prevention and intervention of breast cancer.  By identifying the high-risk chemicals, women who are usually exposed to these health hazards will find a way to reduce or avoid further exposure.