If you read the news, then you’ve heard that we are not safe from cancer’s curse, even when we retreat to the safety of our own homes. According to the experts, almost every chemical has the potential to cause cancer. Fear rules our relationship with the products that we use and it’s difficult to know just what to do and what to buy for home use.
Frankly, unless you are a chemist, understanding the potential risk factors of all the products on the market is not going to happen for the vast majority of consumers. Instead, it is important to get a handle on what science says and move forward with that information. Here are the details on five of the most common household items that have been linked to cancer.
1. Antimicrobial Soap.
One ingredient used in antimicrobial soap has been identified as a potential cancer causing agent. In a series of studies at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Triclosan was linked to liver fibrosis and liver cancer in mice. In a published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists reported that continued exposure to the chemical has consequences.
According to Robert H. Tukey, the lead scientist on the project, the antimicrobial benefits may be outweighed by the increased risk of cancer. Since consumer use of antimicrobial soap has been trending upwards, individuals should be aware that its use, in combination with similar types of compounds, effectively increases the risk of liver toxicity in humans just as it does in mice. The moderate benefits should be weighed against the real risks of liver damage.
Critics of this research claim that the compound is not harmful. A statement issued by the American Cleaning Institute believes that the conclusions of the study distort reality. Dr. Paul DeLeo, ACI’s associate vice-president of environmental safety asserts, “We’ve known for decades that the mouse is not a good model for human risk assessment of triclosan.”
2. Nail Polish
Phthalates are commonly used in cosmetic products such as body washes, fragrances, and nail polish. Dibutyl phthalate, found in nail polish, is linked to cancer. Another potential carcinogen within your nail paint colors is toluene, which is quite toxic according to the Environmental Working Groups. Nail hardeners use formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen.
A 2012 study done with breast cancer patients found that parabens were present within their bodies. Shampoos, lotions, and makeup include parabens within their formulas. While the American Cancer Society states that, “There are no clear health risks from parabens in food, drugs, cosmetics, and skin care products,” many people are choosing not to use products with paraben. For this reason, many manufacturers clearly label or advertise products that are free of parabens or that have had parabens removed.
4. Scented Laundry Detergent And Dryer Sheets
The University of Washingtom has conducted research that suggests that these products contain carcinogens which are released during the drying cycle through the vents. Dr. Anne Steinemann, the lead author and professor at the U stated that this represents an unregulated source of environmental pollution. Pollution emitted from a dryer vent is not regulated the same way that pollution coming out of a smokestack or tail pipe is.”
A variety of sources suggest that continued exposure to this pollution can be harmful. Other safer options include the use of natural detergent and dryer sheet as well as using baking soda as a fabric softener.
5. Plastic Bottles
Plastic bottles work so well because they are flexible. But that flexibility comes at a price. It is chemicals known as phthalates that make plastic so soft and malleable. However, those same chemicals are known to interfere with the hormonal system, increase the risk of asthma, and increase the chances of cancer. They have also been linked to lower IQs in children.
If you are still confused about which household chemicals are safe for use, it’s time to do some more research. Check out this list from the Environmental Working Group and spend some time with Google.