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Do cleaning products cause breast cancer?

Women who report greater use of cleaning products may be at a higher breast cancer risk than those who say they use them sparingly. Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health asked more than 1500 women about their cleaning product usage and found that women who reported using more air fresheners and products for mould and mildew control had a higher incidence of breast cancer.

Julia Brody, from the Silent Spring Institute, USA, worked with a team of researchers to carry out telephone interviews with 787 women diagnosed with breast cancer and 721 comparison women. She said, “Women who reported the highest combined cleaning product use had a double risk of breast cancer compared to those with the lowest reported use. The use of air fresheners and products for mould and mildew control were associated with an increased risk. To our knowledge, this is the first published report on the cleaning product use and the risk of breast cancer.”

The researchers questioned the women on product use, beliefs about breast cancer causes, and established and suspected risk factors. They found that cleaning products, air fresheners and insect repellent were associated with breast cancer but little association was observed with overall pesticide use. Women with breast cancer who believed that chemicals and pollutants contribute ‘a lot’ to the risk of developing the condition were more likely to report high product usage.

SOURCE: Science Daily (July 21, 2010)


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