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.
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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:
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.
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.
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.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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