Author links everyday chemicals to breast cancer

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

A new book packs punches at the US cosmetics and personal care industry, claiming that there is ‘compelling evidence’ to link rising cancer rates to carcinogenic chemicals.

Entitled No Family History, ​the book has been written by Sabrina McCormick, PhD, of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Pennsylvania, and aims to make a link between the rising rates of breast cancer and increased exposure to everyday products containing numerous chemicals.

As well as the personal care industry, McCormick also chooses to target household cleaning and food products, claiming that by simply avoiding the cancer-causing chemicals used by many manufacturers, some cases of breast cancer might be prevented.

Historical data links chemicals to cancer

The book draws on historical data comparisons to underline the fact that breast cancer rates have risen significantly during the last two generations, in correlation with the dramatic rise in the use of increasingly complex chemical combinations for consumer products.

Illustrating this, the book states that in 1940, approximately one in 24 women who lived to be 80 would have been afflicted by cancer. In 2006 that figure was said to have risen to one woman in eight.

“In our race for a cure for breast cancer, we have ignored the overwhelming body of evidence that demonstrates a link between products from cosmetics to pesticides and breast cancer,”​ said McCormick.

Prevention key to safer products

“We must focus on prevention by demanding safer products, reducing our exposure to chemical and urging our policymakers to ban cancer-causing chemicals in everyday products.”

Echoing comments made by the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, McCormick stresses how authorities in Europe have already responded to scientific evidence linking certain chemicals to cancer by banning certain cosmetic products containing these chemical from being sold there.

“Women and girls should not have to check the ingredients in every stick of lipstick and each bottle of moisturizer. Better regulation to ensure that these products are safe would go a long way to reducing the incidence of breast cancer,”​ McCormick said.

US personal care industry reacts

The US personal care industry has been quick to respond to such criticisms in the past, although no one was immediately available for comment about the publication of McCormick’s book at the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC).

In recent years lobby and interest groups have gained significant media coverage after raising concerns about the dangers of lead in lipstick and phthalates in baby care products.

Last year John Bailey, chief scientist at the PCPC, fought back at lobby groups and interest groups, accusing the organizations behind these reports of using scare tactics to spread mistruths and making consumers believe that grave dangers lie in cosmetics when this is simply not the case.

With regards to the audience that these studies reach the, the trade association representative said the internet has increased the ability of lobby groups to disseminate information.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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