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May 21, 2014

Study Lists Dangerous Chemicals Linked to Breast Cancer

Certain chemicals that are common in everyday life have been shown to cause breast cancer in lab rats, and are likely to do the same in women, according to some US researchers.

A recent study distinguished 17 chemicals that should be avoided, including chemicals found in gasoline, diesel and other vehicle exhaust, flame retardants, stain-resistant textiles, paint removers, and disinfection byproducts in drinking water. Some of the biggest sources of mammary carcinogens in the environment are benzene and butadiene, which can come from vehicle exhaust, lawn equipment, tobacco smoke and charred food.

Other concerns identified by the study include cleaning solvents like methylene chloride, pharmaceuticals used in hormone replacement therapy, chemicals in nonstick coatings, and styrene which comes from tobacco smoke and is also used to make Styrofoam.

The study provides seven ways for women to avoid these chemicals:

-Limit exposure to exhaust from vehicles or generators, don’t idle your car, and use electric lawn mowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers instead of gas-powered ones.

-Use a ventilation fan while cooking and limit how much burned or charred food you eat.

-Do not buy furniture with polyurethane foam, or ask for furniture that has not been treated with flame retardants

-Avoid stain-resistant rugs, furniture and fabrics

-If you use a dry-cleaner, find one who does not use PERC (perchloroethylene) or other solvents.  Ask for “Wet cleaning.”

-Use a solid carbon block drinking water filter

-Keep chemicals out of the house by taking off your shoes at the door, using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, and cleaning with wet rags and mops  

The research was funded by the Avon Foundation. The Silent Spring Institute is a 20-year-old organization made up of scientists who focus on the environment and women's health.