The term ‘chemicals’ has become an all-encompassing, almost abstract notion that covers just about every nasty additive, manmade substance and damaging agent in the products we use every day. It’s an unfortunate reality that much of what we know about the effects of being surrounded by chemically-charged household items, like cleaning products, cosmetics, and some of our favorite foods, is still being determined: It’s not unusual to see a label that explicitly warns the consumer that some products found therein are made with chemicals that have been linked to cancer.
Large corporations, like the fast food franchises McDonald’s and Subway in the US, have known carcinogens in their food products that are, in fact, banned in countries like the United Kingdom, Singapore, and Australia. That’s a worrying fact that provokes a deeper consideration of what’s determined to be a permissible level of toxicity in common consumer goods.
But it seems, at times, that if we refused to touch anything that has been labelled as potentially carcinogenic, we’d be restricted to the point of absurdity. These products are all around us and as our world continues to modernize and mass production further expands, their presence is ever greater. While several regions largely exercise bans on the use of carcinogens, they remain pervasive but insidious ingredients in some of the products we use most often. Overall, it’s understood that we coexist with things that could potentially harm us. But to deliberately ingest something that in the long run could harm our health – like the seven items specified on this list – is intuitively unwise. The following details some of the most commonly used products that have the highest proven potential to cause cancer.
7. Hygiene and Beauty Products
According to the Cancer Prevention Coalition, hygienic products like certain brands of talcum powder and toothpaste carry considerable traces of carcinogens. Beauty products like liquid foundation, shampoos, conditioners, and hair dyes have also been found to carry carcinogens. Cancer.gov reports studies that prove a link between the use of permanent hair dyes and increased risk of leukemia and bladder cancer.
6. Pet Care Products
We readily treat our pets with chemicals. When a flea infestation should occur, it’s most convenient to douse the animal’s fur in an anti-tick and flea solution. Cat and dog flea collars carry the dangerous pesticide propoxur, a neurotoxin known to be harmful to humans.
5. Antimicrobial Products
It’s a given that cleaning products carry a cocktail of hazardous chemicals. Highly flammable skin and lung irritants in cleaning supplies like disinfectant spray and bleach products mean these basically necessary products should always be used responsibly. But what of those antimicrobial products we deliberately absorb into the skin? Ingredients in antimicrobial soaps and lotions feature the carcinogen triclocarban.
4. Insulation in Houses
The insulation foam commonly placed inside the walls of homes carries chemicals that are known to cause cancer in humans after long periods of exposure. Fiberglass is found in the insulation of 90 percent of American homes – and it’s airborne, increasing the risk of lung cancer among other respiratory complications.
3. Air Fresheners
Household air fresheners and disinfectant sprays are a common commodity, even after a University of California, Berkeley study exposed the obscenely high levels of carcinogens in the most common air fresheners and found that frequent use of air freshening sprays pose serious health risks. Toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, and phthalates are common ingredients found in air fresheners and the effects of these on humans in large doses range from nausea, headaches and vomiting, to organ failure.
Sadly, not everything we take pleasure in is good for us – and alcohol is no exception. The health risks are widely known but alcohol is such an inherent part of so many cultures that we’re unlikely to be avoiding it any time soon.
With nearly 10 percent of cancers in men and 6 percent in women triggered by high alcohol consumption, the negative effects of alcohol abuse on the body can’t be overstated. In fact, researchers in Germany found that of eight European countries studied, 54,000 cases of individuals who suffer alcohol-related cancer — most commonly breast, liver, and colon cancers — could have avoided their illness if the men had consumed no more than 2 alcoholic beverages per day and the woman only had one. It’s evident from this study that moderation is key.
1. Tanning Beds
It’s enough of a health scare to bake under the sun for too long, the risk of skin cancer being a pertinent concern among people of all ages and from all walks of life. However, to tan in a tanning bed poses it’s own set of health risks. The International Agency for Research on Cancer listed ultraviolet emitting tanning devices among its “most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation”— right up there with plutonium and radium. The World Health Organization reports that individuals who start tanning in tanning beds before the age of 30 increase their risk of melanoma — the deadliest type of skin cancer — by 75 percent.