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March 4, 2024

Hundreds of Everyday Chemicals May Raise Breast Cancer Risk, New Study Warns

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Jan 15, 2024

A groundbreaking new study has identified nearly 1,000 commonly used chemicals that may increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers warn that exposure to these chemicals, found in a wide range of consumer goods and food items, could set off biological changes that lead to cancer.

Massive Study Analyzes Chemical-Cancer Connection

The research, conducted by teams at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the University of California, San Francisco, screened more than 2,000 chemicals for traits suggesting they could lead to breast cancer. Ultimately, they flagged 924 substances that positively correlated with known cancer drivers.

These chemicals were prevalent across furniture, cosmetics, food packaging, and other everyday products. Shockingly, 40% were plastics compounds and solvents found in a multitude of goods.

As study author Leroy Lowe stated:

“This research underscores the systemic threat that the chemicals in our environments pose to global health, especially for women. It spots lights the limitations in how we’re testing and regulating chemicals.”

Everyday Exposures Can Add Up

While exposure to one of these chemicals likely won’t instantly trigger cancer, repeated contact with accumulating levels over months or years could prove dangerous. People also come into contact with chemical mixtures, rather than a single compound, further intensifying risk.

As endocrinologist Carol Kasten explained:

“Individually, these chemicals may not significantly increase breast cancer risk. But combined over a lifetime, the exposures could possibly pile up.”

She emphasized the importance of regulatory action, given these constant low-dose exposures from birth through late adulthood.

Calls For Stricter Regulation

The study authors stressed that only a small fraction, less than 2%, of over 100,000 registered chemicals have been screened for cancer risk. They urged political leaders to better fund chemical testing and restrict compounds with concerning early evidence.

Experts noted manufacturers have limited responsibility to investigate health impacts before bringing products to market under current U.S. laws. Only after definitive human proof can officials take regulatory action.

“By then it’s too late,” said UCLA professor Julia Brody. “Public health decisions should be based on plans to prevent harm, not waiting for harm to be done.”

Everyday Sources of Chemical Exposure

Here are some common sources of the 924 chemicals flagged as potentially breast carcinogenic in the new report:

Source Sample Exposures # of Risky Chemicals Detected
Food packaging Pizza boxes, to-go containers, can linings 187
Furniture Couches, mattresses, carpeting 157
Cosmetics Shampoos, skin creams, hair dyes 135
Cleaning Products Detergents, stain removers, air fresheners 83
Cookware Nonstick pans, plastic containers 62

Study authors noted not all exposures come through direct use of chemically-treated products. Many enter the broader environment through production, distribution, or disposal too.

Low-income communities and communities of color often face higher exposures as well, given proximity to industrial sites or dumping grounds. Researchers thus stressed the justice implications of better regulating everyday chemicals.

Future Analysis Planned

Moving forward, scientists aim to quantify exposure levels from different sources to refine chemical risk assessments. They also plan continued lab analysis on biological impacts.

UCSF professor Robert Hiatt explained:

“Our findings integrate experimental data with computation to help identify chemicals that can contribute to breast cancer risk. Much more research is needed to understand exposures via products during daily life that could increase risk alone or in combination.”

Still, public health advocates argue there’s sufficient early evidence for policy changes now. Given the prevalence of concerning chemicals across goods worldwide, acting sooner could substantially lower population-wide risk.

What Consumers Can Do

In the absence of swift political action, experts advise people to minimize exposures when possible through simple lifestyle shifts:

  • Avoid plastic food packaging by choosing fresh goods or glass/metal containers
  • Use natural cleaners or make your own using baking soda, vinegar, etc.
  • Ventilate areas and wash hands after using chemical products
  • Choose organic mattresses, couches, and carpets when options available
  • Check labels and limit use of cosmetics with concerning ingredients
  • Speak up to demand retailers and manufacturers restrict risky chemicals

While individual actions have limits, small daily choices can accrue to move markets toward safer alternatives that protect public health.

As longtime environmental activist Shawna Mackey said:

“Shoppers increasingly demand organic produce free of pesticides. We need to cultivate that same consumer power for ‘organic couches’ and nontoxic shampoos. Voting with your dollar goes a long way.”

She added that even modest changes today could save thousands of women’s lives each year and prevent needless suffering.

This seminal research on linking common chemicals with breast cancer marks a pivotal turning point. Only through sustained public pressure and progressive policies can its warnings translate into reduced risk for all.

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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