Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

3 Common Chemicals That May Cause Breast Cancer

Health + Wellness
3 Common Chemicals That May Cause Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is an epidemic. One in eight women will develop the disease, and nearly 40,000 women die from it yearly (though, thankfully, the death rate is decreasing). We all know women who have fought the disease—moms, sisters, grandmothers, friends, aunts, daughters, neighbors.

Bisphenol-A, phthalates and parabens are three very common chemicals that have been linked in various studies to breast cancer.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Meanwhile, the evidence mounts that common chemicals play a role in breast cancer incidence. Hormone-disrupting chemicals pose a particular concern, since breast cancer is sensitive to hormonal changes. One recent study found women who work in the plastics and food canning industries had a fivefold increase in premenopausal breast cancer. The conclusion? Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, including phthalates, bisphenol-A and flame-retardants, is a decisive factor in breast cancer incidence.

Because the government and industry are slow to take steps to protect people from the carcinogenic effects of everyday toxic chemicals, it falls to the consumer to take steps to reduce exposures to cancer-causing chemicals. Learning more about these chemicals and working to avoid exposure to them is a key cancer prevention strategy that everyone can embrace.

Bisphenol-A, phthalates and parabens are three very common chemicals that have been linked in various studies to breast cancer. Exposure to all three can easily be reduced and sometimes avoided by reading labels and making informed choices when it comes to buying food, household cleaners and personal care products. Here’s how:

1. Bisphenol-A (BPA)

This hormone-disrupting chemical is found just about everywhere. Lab studies have shown that BPA is linked to early puberty, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. It can make healthy breast cells grow and survive like cancer cells and can even make breast cancer drugs less effective.

How to avoid:

  • Don’t buy canned foods or look for cans that are BPA-free.
  • Just say no to cash register receipts, some of which use BPA in the printing process.
  • Choose glass or stainless steel instead of plastic for your food storage and water bottle needs.
  • Make sure baby items and kids’ toys are BPA-free.

2. Phthalates

Phthalates are a class of chemicals used in a variety of products. They can make plastics soft and pliable. They’re also used in synthetic fragrances found in air fresheners, cosmetics, detergents, cleaning products and more.

How to avoid:

  • Look for products labeled “phthalate free.”
  • Stop buying vinyl products, which are softened with phthalates. Choose a cloth or nylon shower curtain instead of one made with PVC. Kids’ stuff should always be PVC-free.
  • Leave synthetic scented products like household cleaners, candles, and air fresheners on the store shelf. Choose unscented products or those with natural essential oils instead.

3. Parabens

Parabens are widely used as preservatives in cosmetics—found in lotions, creams and deodorants. They can be absorbed by the skin and have been linked to breast cancer incidence. One study found parabens in 99 percent of breast tissue samples; 60 percent of the samples contained at least five parabens.

How to avoid:

  • Only use personal care products labeled “paraben free.”
  • Read labels and avoid ingredients that end with “paraben” such as methylparaben.
  • Consult EWG’s Skin Deep Database to get more information about which personal care products contain parabens.

There are many more chemicals associated with breast cancer. Some are avoidable, others are not. It’s hard to avoid 1,4 dioxane, for example. This known carcinogen is not deliberately added to a product, but is produced as a byproduct of suds-generating chemicals. There are also other actions to take to help prevent breast cancer, but eliminating your exposure to common carcinogenic chemicals is an good and easy first step.

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

Despite Industry Opposition, Scientists Report Formaldehyde Causes Cancer

How Daily Exposure to Toxic Chemicals Can Trigger Serious Health Problems

7 Chemicals in Cosmetics You Should Avoid

President Donald Trump hands coal miners the pen he used to sign a bill eliminating environmental regulations on the mining industry at the White House in Washington, D.C., on February 16, 2017. Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

By Oliver Milman

Art Sullivan is considered something of a political heretic by other coal miners in south-western Pennsylvania, where a wave of support for Donald Trump based upon his flamboyant promises of a resurgence in coal helped propel the Republican to the U.S. presidency.

"Many of my coal miner friends voted for him," said Sullivan, who has spent 54 years as a coal miner and, more latterly, consultant to a struggling industry. "They were deceived. Trump had no plan, no concept of how to resurrect the coal industry. My friends were lied to."

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new white paper explains how to transform current widespread agricultural practices to regenerative agriculture. PickPik

By Andrea Germanos

A white paper out Friday declares that "there is hope right beneath our feet" to address the climate crisis as it touts regenerative agriculture as a "win-win-win" solution to tackling runaway carbon emissions.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Brain-eating amoeba, naegleria fowleri, was detected in the water storage tank for the Lake Jackson Civic Center Splash Pad, according to Lake Jackson city officials. Lake Jackson Civic Center

Environmental officials have warned residents of Lake Jackson, Texas to boil their water before using it for cooking or drinking after a six-year-old boy died from a brain-eating amoeba in the water. Tests for naegleria fowleri showed its presence in three of 11 samples in the Lake Jackson area, including one from a hose at the boy's home, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less
Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch