Do you know what chemicals you're exposed to on a daily basis? A recent study found that women with cancers of the breast, uterus, skin (melanoma), or ovaries had significantly higher levels of certain endocrine disrupting chemicals in their bodies than women without any of those cancers.
The researchers looked at levels of some hormone disrupting chemicals: PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), phenols (e.g. BPA), and parabens in both men and women. They found that women had higher levels of endocrine disruptors for 4 types of cancers (breast, uterine, ovarian, and melanoma). However, there was no relationship between the endocrine disruptors and thyroid cancer in men or women, and no relationship in men with prostate cancer.
The reason the researchers looked at breast, prostate, thyroid, ovarian, endometrial, and testicular cancers, and melanoma is because they are "hormone-mediated" cancers. That is, hormones play a role in growth and progression of these cancers.
Bottom line: You cannot totally avoid these chemicals because they are used in so many products, but you can really lower your exposure to them. Read Avoiding Harmful Chemicals for easy tips on reducing your exposure to these harmful chemicals. For example, don't use non-stick pots and pans, don't use plug-in air fresheners, and try to use fragrance-free or unscented products as much as possible. Use paraben and phthalate-free personal care products.
From Medical Xpress: Study finds significant chemical exposures in women with cancer
In a sign that exposure to certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be playing a role in cancers of the breast, ovary, skin and uterus, researchers have found that people who developed those cancers have significantly higher levels of these chemicals in their bodies.
While it does not prove that exposure to chemicals like PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) and phenols (including BPA) led to these cancer diagnoses, it is a strong signal that they may be playing a role and should be studied further.
The study showed that particularly for women, higher exposure to PFDE, a long-chained PFAS compound, had double the odds of a previous melanoma diagnosis; women with higher exposure to two other long-chained PFAS compounds, PFNA and PFUA, had nearly double the odds of a prior melanoma diagnosis.
The study showed a link between PFNA and a prior diagnosis of uterine cancer; and women with higher exposure to phenols, such as BPA (used in plastics) and 2,5-dichlorophenol (a chemical used in dyes and found as a by-product in wastewater treatment), had higher odds of prior ovarian cancer diagnoses.
The study was conducted by researchers from UC San Francisco (UCSF), University of Southern California (USC) and University of Michigan, all of whom are part of Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers. They used data from blood and urine samples from more than 10,000 people in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They investigated current exposure to phenols and PFAS in relation to previous cancer diagnoses, and explored racial/ethnic disparities in these associations.
PFAS are ubiquitous in the environment
PFAS have contaminated water, food and people through products such as Teflon pans, waterproof clothing, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, and food packaging. They are often referred to as "forever chemicals" because they are resistant to breaking down and therefore last for decades in the environment. PFAS also remain in people's systems anywhere from several months to years.
"These PFAS chemicals appear to disrupt hormone function in women, which is one potential mechanism that increases odds of hormone-related cancers in women," said Amber Cathey, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a research faculty scientist at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health.
The study also identified racial differences. Associations between various PFAS and ovarian and uterine cancers were observed only among white women, while associations between a PFAS called MPAH and a phenol called BPF and breast cancer were observed only among non-white women.
Researchers say EPA should regulate PFAS as a class of chemicals
"Since PFAS make up thousands of chemicals, one way to reduce exposures is for EPA to regulate PFAS as a class of chemicals, rather than one at a time."