Quantcast

3 Common Chemicals That May Cause Breast Cancer

Health + Wellness

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


georgeclerk / E+ / Getty Images

By Jennifer Molidor

One million species are at risk of extinction from human activity, warns a recent study by scientists with the United Nations. We need to cut greenhouse gas pollution across all sectors to avoid catastrophic climate change — and we need to do it fast, said the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This research should serve as a rallying cry for polluting industries to make major changes now. Yet the agriculture industry continues to lag behind.

Read More Show Less
Edwin Remsburg / VW Pics / Getty Images

Botswana, home to one third of Africa's elephants, announced Wednesday that it was lifting its ban on the hunting of the large mammals.

"The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism wishes to inform the public that following extensive consultations with all stakeholders, the Government of Botswana has taken a decision to lift the hunting suspension," the government announced in a press release shared on social media.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pxhere

By Richard Denison

Readers of this blog know how concerned EDF is over the Trump EPA's approval of many dozens of new chemicals based on its mere "expectation" that workers across supply chains will always employ personal protective equipment (PPE) just because it is recommended in the manufacturer's non-binding safety data sheet (SDS).

Read More Show Less
De Molen windmill and nuclear power plant cooling tower in Doel, Belgium. Trougnouf / CC BY-SA 4.0

By Grant Smith

From 2009 to 2012, Gregory Jaczko was chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approves nuclear power plant designs and sets safety standards for plants. But he now says that nuclear power is too dangerous and expensive — and not part of the answer to the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Brett Walton / Circle of Blue

By Brett Walton

When Greg Wetherbee sat in front of the microscope recently, he was looking for fragments of metals or coal, particles that might indicate the source of airborne nitrogen pollution in Rocky Mountain National Park. What caught his eye, though, were the plastics.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Gabriele Holtermann Gorden / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

In a big victory for animals, Prada has announced that it's ending its use of fur! It joins Coach, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giorgio Armani, Versace, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Westwood, Michael Kors, Donna Karan and many others PETA has pushed toward a ban.

This is a victory more than a decade in the making. PETA and our international affiliates have crashed Prada's catwalks with anti-fur signs, held eye-catching demonstrations all around the world, and sent the company loads of information about the fur industry. In 2018, actor and animal rights advocate Pamela Anderson sent a letter on PETA's behalf urging Miuccia Prada to commit to leaving fur out of all future collections, and the iconic designer has finally listened.

Read More Show Less
Amer Ghazzal / Barcroft Media / Getty Images

If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

Amazon Employees for Climate Justice held a press conference after the annual shareholder meeting on May 22. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice

Amazon shareholders voted down an employee-backed resolution calling for more aggressive action on climate change at their annual meeting Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Read More Show Less