Do Household Cleaners Cause Breast Cancer?

posted by Melissa Breyer Jul 20, 2010 5:01 pm

Pesticides, household cleaners, and air fresheners are of interest in breast cancer research because many contain mammary gland carcinogens and/or endocrine disrupting compounds, according to a new study published in the journal, Environmental Health.  The population-based case-control study investigated whether the use of household cleaners and pesticides increases breast cancer risk.

Researchers asked more than 1500 women about their usage of cleaning products and found that women who reported using more air fresheners and products for mold and mildew had a two-fold higher incidence of breast cancer.

Julia Brody, from the Silent Spring Institute, worked with the team of researchers to carry out telephone interviews with 787 women (in Massachusetts) diagnosed with breast cancer and 721 comparison women. She said, “Women who reported the highest combined cleaning product use had a doubled risk of breast cancer compared to those with the lowest reported use. Use of air fresheners and products for mold and mildew control were associated with increased risk.” Since the results were based on personal recall, the researchers recommend further study of cleaning products and breast cancer using prospective self-reports and measurements in environmental and biological media.

Meanwhile, a study from the University of Bristol called “Children of the ’90s” (Alspac), which has followed the health and development of 14,000 children since before birth, also looked at the health impacts of air fresheners. The study didn’t analyze the ingredients in air fresheners, just the effects: 32 percent more babies suffered diarrhea in homes where air fresheners were used every day, compared with homes where they were used once a week or less, and they had significantly more earaches in these homes as well.



Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.