Synthetic Chemicals and Cancer

In our country, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is one in eight. In 1975, the risk was one in eleven. Why do cancer rates keep increasing? The Boston Globe suggests that it’s because of the continuing proliferation of synthetic chemicals:

Since World War II, the proliferation of synthetic chemicals has gone hand-in-hand with the increased incidence of breast cancer. About 80,000 synthetic chemicals are used today in the United States, and their number increases by about 1,000 each year. Only about 7 percent of them have been screened for their health effects. These chemicals can persist in the environment and accumulate in our bodies. According to a recent review by the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, 216 chemicals and radiation sources cause breast cancer in animals.

Few of these chemicals have been studied by regulatory bodies, yet nearly all of them cause mutations that could led to cancer.

Some chemicals of concern include:

Benzene – an ingredient in gasoline.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons – in vehicle exhaust, tobacco smoke, and charred foods

Ethylene Oxide – widely used in medical settings

Methylene Chloride – a common solvent in paint strippers and glues

Moreover, many newer synthetic chemicals act as endocrine disruptors. Bisphenol A (BPA), for example, is thought to raise breast cancer risk by acting as a synthetic form of estrogen. BPA is found in plastic bottles. Other endocrine disrupting chemicals are found in pesticides, fuels, plastics, air pollution, industrial solvents, tobacco smoke, medications, food additives, and personal care products.

Of course we still need early detection, especially in the case of breast cancer, but we also need more primary prevention – by avoiding these dangerous chemicals.

Here are some tips to avoid synthetic chemicals in your everyday life:

water purifiersDo not drink from plastic bottles. Install a water filter in your home to avoid bottled water. Avoid plastic food containers as well.

dry vapor steam cleanersAvoid artificial fragrances and harsh cleaning chemicals. Choose natural options. The vapor steam cleaner, for instance, disinfects without the use of chemicals.

Sleep on chemical-free allergy bedding.

Place an air purifier in your home to eliminate indoor air pollution.

Avoid eating fatty meats, as these chemicals also get stored in the fatty tissue of animals.

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