The Inconvenient Link: Toxic Chemicals & Cancer.

breaking, environment, Featured, health + safety, sustainability 0 181
Photo: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

Photo: Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

Unfortunately, cancer is a disease that we’re all connected to in some way. And we’re also exposed to toxic chemicals.

Many of us have faced cancer within our families, or personally.

Even if you haven’t been touched by cancer in some way, we all come in contact with cancer-causing chemicals every day. Though depressing, this presents an area and opportunity for cancer prevention.

Almost 45 percent of men and 38 percent of women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

~ The National Cancer Institute

So it should come as no surprise that cancer has a distinct link to toxic chemicals.

Everyday, we’re exposed to a complex mixture of industrial chemicals. Some of these chemicals increase the risk of certain diseases and conditions. Conditions, like cancer. Which is why groups like Safer Chemicals Healthy Families are advocating for reform of our toxic chemical laws.

Until we get reform, we need to be aware of the chemicals that are linked to cancer.

Examples of carcinogens:

Trichloroethylene (TCE)

TCE is a very carcinogenic compound, and easy to come in contact with. TCE is widespread in ambient air, indoor air, soil, and groundwater.

Trichloroethylene is present in some paint removers, adhesives, rug cleaners, metal cleaners, pepper sprays, and spot removers. TCE has been detected in air, surface water, and groundwater and is one of the most common contaminants found at toxic waste sites.

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)

DDT has been linked to breast cancer. Women who were exposed to higher levels of DDT before age 14 had a markedly increased risk of breast cancer later in life, compared to women whose DDT levels were lower. DDT was phased out in 1972, but its “toxic residue” remains in the food we eat.


It’s been linked to cancer for a while now, but it is still ending up in everyday consumer products. A 2009 California study found nearly all new single-family homes had indoor formaldehyde concentrations that exceeded guidelines for cancer and chronic lung irritation.

Formaldehyde is also found in furniture, building supplies, cosmetics and personal care products, wrinkle-free shirts and bedding and glue.

Here’s a list of chemicals found in consumer products with links to cancer:
chemicals chart

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families’ Health Report examines the best peer reviewed science on toxic chemicals and their links to adverse health outcomes.

Check out this expert from the report lays out the statistics about cancer rates:

Over the past two decades, the rates of some cancers have risen significantly. These include:

◦  Kidney, liver, thyroid, esophageal, and testicular cancer, as well as melanoma in men;

◦  Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, melanoma, and cancers of the thyroid, liver, and kidney in women; and

◦  Childhood cancers overall, especially childhood leukemia and brain cancer.

We need strong laws on toxic chemicals to prevent the exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

We need retailers to step up and phase out these chemicals from their supply chain.

And finally, we as consumers need to make informed choices to avoid cancer causing chemicals.

Together we can kick cancer-causing chemicals to the curb. It’ll be hard to prevent every case of cancer through these steps, but if we can prevent some, it’s worth it.

Your Voice Counts!

Click here to ask the big ten retailers to get tough on the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals!

About the author / 

Lindsay Dahl

Lindsay Dahl is the Deputy Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and spends her free time writing about food and health, practicing yoga and jumping into cold bodies of water.

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