Cleaning products could increase your risk of four types of cancer

Zoe Winters explains how to check for breast cancer

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Cancer can strike anyone at any time but you’re not entirely at the mercy of the deadly disease. An expert makes a compelling case for rethinking what cleaning products you use in your home. The chemical cocktail packed away in the various bottles could be making you more prone to four types of cancer.

Whether you’re giving your kitchen counters a wipe or scrubbing your shower head, probably the last thing on your mind is that the cleaning product in your hand could increase your risk of cancer.

From detergents to cleaning sprays, Breast Cancer UK warns that some household products could contain synthetic ingredients known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), linked to breast cancer. spoke to Christina Hawkes, founder of Greenscents, about this connection further.

Hawkes said: “Household cleaning products are traditionally made up of powerful synthetic ingredients, meaning that they contain a lot of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

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“They are usually synthetic or man-made chemicals that are found in a variety of products including plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, food, cleaners, toys, clothing, paints, medical equipment, cleaning products, furniture, furnishings, and electronics.”

While Breast Cancer UK only links breast cancer to these powerful chemicals, research, published in the journal Reviews in Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, also tied EDCs to uterine cancer.

Hawkes added: “EDC’s have been linked to hormone-sensitive cancers such as breast, uterine, prostate and thyroid cancers.

“It is often a low level of exposure to EDCs over an extended time that creates the greatest risk of cancer.”

Having looked at various studies, the research above concluded that while “both the level and timing of exposure are crucial”, the public should be informed about the presence of EDCs in common consumer products.

Hawkes added that overall research is lacking as it would be “unethical to expose people to a cocktail of toxic chemicals to find out”.

One thing that studies do suggest is that EDCs have been linked to cancer, with different experts like CHEM Trust sharing they can be found in certain cleaning products.

Fortunately, Cancer Research UK stated that the products found in the UK are safe.

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Cancer Research UK’s senior health information manager, Fiona Osgun, said: “People can be reassured that, when looking at the evidence overall, using cleaning products at home doesn’t increase the risk of cancer. 

“There are also strict safety regulations in place in the UK and EU about the ingredients that can be used in them. 

“Manufacturers must ensure that their products are safe for use before they can be sold.”

However, Hawkes shared that the current law doesn’t require manufacturers to reveal all ingredients on the label.

Therefore, the most reliable way of ensuring your products are safe is by choosing cleaning products with an official organic accreditation such as The Soil Association, according to the expert.

Hawkes said: “This certification is the only way to be sure that cleaning products do not contain EDCs, as all the ingredients must be listed on the label. 

“We should avoid EDCs whenever we can as we know that they pose a cancer risk.”

If you want to stick to your usual cleaning products, another tip the expert offered is to make sure there is sufficient ventilation when you’re doing chores.

She added: “Avoid cleaning with products in enclosed spaces, like showers. Be cautious when using sprays as the droplets can easily travel and be inhaled.

“However, the best approach is to look for household and laundry products certified by well-recognised organisations such as The Soil Association in the UK.”

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