Home is a Haven for Causes of Cancer, Researcher Says

August 12, 2009 at 12:10 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Consumers ‘blindly’ use dangerous chemicals in everyday products, particularly cosmetics

By Veronique Mandel, Canwest News Services


WINDSOR, Ont. – Women who work in the home are at a 54 percent higher risk of developing cancer than women who work outside the home, according to Michael Dufresne, a leading researcher in environmental cancers.

Women and men who want to look good and avoid body odours are at added risk, because of the cancer causing chemicals in hundreds of personal care products and household cleaners, said Dufresne, quoting from leading studies.

From cosmetics and hair products to toothpaste, shaving cream, furniture polish, and dish washing liquid, the presence of cancer-linked chemicals raises major concern, said Dufresne, a research professor at the University of Windsor, who is also a research coordinator for Cancer Care Ontario and a member of the U.S. Barbara Karmanos Cancer Institute.

Speaking at a seminar here Tuesday, Dufresne said his greatest worry is the lack of information given to the public about products they use every day.

“People are blindly being led in the use of these products, they assume they are tested and safe, and they’re not,” said Dufresne. “Scientists are discovering that exposure to a variety of trace chemicals over the span of a lifetime is dangerous.”

An estimated 68,600 Canadian woman will be diagnosed with cancer this year, while 31,600 of them will die. Forty-six percent of Canadian woman are in the workforce and the remainder work at home.

The U.S. Public Interest Group reports there are more than 100,000 synthetic chemicals in use. Residues of more than 400 toxic chemicals have been identified in human blood and fat tissues.

The risk of childhood leukemia and brain tumours increases dramatically in households using home an garden pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. Bleach is being linked to the rising rates of breast cancer.

Dufresne said the biggest culprit is the cosmetic industry, which does not put warnings on labels and does not list potentially harmful ingredients. “The industry and the regulators know the cancer risks associated with cosmetics but there is virtually no consumer knowledge,” Dufresne said, “Unlike cigarettes, there are no warning labels on cosmetics and virtually no FDA regulations policing them.

Cancer-linked chemicals are found in blush, concealer, facial powder, mascara and eye shadow and lipstick.

Toothpaste, nail polish, bubbles, shaving cream, deodorant, soap, tampons, conditioner, shampoo, and styling products also pose a threat.

“My own study showed that men and women think they’re safer if they pay more, but there is absolutely no relationship between cost and safety.”

The use of talc in the genital region has been linked to ovarian cancer.

Mouth, tongue, and throat cancer has been linked to the high alcohol content (more than 25 percent), saccharin, dyes, and a chemical called PS60/80 in various types of mouthwash.

In the home, Lysol, Murphy’s Oil Soap, Pledge, Tilex, Ajax and Spray ‘N Wash, Palmolive, Joy, Sunlight, Arm & Hammer heavy duty laundry detergents are a few of the many products containing dangerous chemical, said Dufresne.

Chemical formed in wood smoke from the fireplace, some burning candles, carpets and plastics and particularly plastic wrap, can also cause cancer.

Dufresne said people shouldn’t panic, but wants to ensure they have information to make informed choices.

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