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What household products cause breast cancer?


Ask-the-Expert Online Conference

Question from Gloria: Does hair dye, lipstick, makeup, or house cleaning detergent cause breast cancer? What about canned goods that have chemicals that mimic estrogen? I wash my veggies in a vinegar wash and I am not sure if this does anything to stop the effects of harmful pesticides. HELP.
Answers - Sue Heffelfinger There are very few epidemiological data that point to any specific product or any specific chemicals as being a cause of human breast cancer. Many of these products and chemicals, when given to laboratory animals, increase the frequency of mammary cancer and therefore are worrisome. In the world today, we are exposed to many agents, some of them naturally occurring and some of them man-made, that either cause direct genetic damage and therefore might be able to produce cancers, or which alter our hormone levels which might encourage cancerous cells to grow.

But it's very difficult with all of these chemical exposures that are a daily event in our lives to know which are important. And so, when it comes to risk reduction and trying to decide whether to use a particular product or eat a particular kind of food, there are very few hard and fast recommendations other than to cut down on your exposures whenever you can.
Devra Davis I agree with what you just said, but there are some studies in animals that have found certain types of plasticizers (compounds put into plastics to make them harder) can accelerate breast cell growth in animals and have a number of other effects on reproduction and the endocrine system, especially in baby boys.

There have also been case reports that we describe on our website, showing that young black baby girls who developed premature breast growth between the ages of 1 and 3 years had been exposed to hormones from personal care products, which their parents had used on their daughters' hair and scalps. When this exposure stopped, the breasts went away in these baby girls. Unfortunately, very few people know about this problem.

But Dr. Chandra Tiwary, who is a pediatric endocrinologist, reported a case series of young girls with premature breast growth and exposure to hormones in hair products. He also documented finding a hormone in a number of widely used personal care products in the African-American community. The FDA does not regulate personal care products unless they are officially called “hormones.” These products are not identified as hormones. Dr. Tiwary made his report about 7 years ago, but these products are still on the market. Certainly anything that can cause a baby girl to develop breasts is a problem.
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. There are a lot of policy issues coming up in our conversation tonight. Workplaces and communities can increase opportunities for vigorous exercise and help with education for risk reduction, especially if certain products are associated with increased breast cancer risk.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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