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Cleaning products linked to breast cancer

October 5, 2011

ne in eight American women will get breast cancer, giving the United States the dubious honor of the highest rates in the world. It’s hard not to associate that high risk with our disinclination to regulate chemicals.


A new study in Environmental Health magazine suggests that using conventional cleaning products may increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. The study surveyed 1,500 women, half who’d been diagnosed with cancer and half who had not. The women who reported heavy use of cleaning products — particularly air fresheners and mold and mildew control products — had twice the risk of having cancer as those with lowest reported use.

Sounds like a great excuse to skip the cleaning this weekend — and another reason to use green cleaning products, like vinegar and salt, and essential oils as air fresheners.

Because the survey relied on women to describe their own exposure, its results are limited by some reporting biases. For example, women who have been diagnosed with cancer are more likely to recall all the chemicals they’ve been exposed to.

What’s sad is that this is the only kind of data we have on the issue — another symptom of our dysfunctional chemical romance.


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