Originally published December 8 2012
Chemical exposure in the workplace increases breast cancer risk in women
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) If you are a woman who works in an industry involving plastics or metal manufacturing, or in a conventional farming environment that exposes you to crop chemicals, you could be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer than women in other industries. These are the findings of a new study out of the University of Stirling (UoS) in the U.K., which links prolonged employment in such industries with an up to 42 percent increased risk of developing breast cancer.
For their study, Dr. James Brophy from the Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety Research Group (OEHSRG) and his colleagues evaluated more than 2,000 women from Southern Ontario in Canada, about half of which had been diagnosed with breast cancer. They found that, among women who worked in high-risk industries that involved considerable exposures to known or suspected carcinogens for more than 10 years, cancer risk was significantly elevated.
"Studies have shown that breast cancer incidence rose throughout the developed world during the second half of the 20th century as women entered industrial workplaces and many new and untested chemicals were being introduced," explained Dr. Brophy to BBC News about his study. "Diverse and concentrated exposures to carcinogens and hormone disrupting chemicals in some workplaces can put workers at an increased risk for developing cancer."
Though the study focused specifically on individuals from regions of Canada where manufacturing and agriculture are prominent, its greater implications point to numerous exposures, both workplace-based and environmental, that are more than likely to be at least partially responsible for the sharp increase in cancer rates throughout the industrialized world during the past century. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than two percent of the chemicals manufactured and used today have even been tested for carcinogenicity, which means the other 98 percent could be causing all sorts of health damage.
"Many of the women included in the study were exposed to a virtual 'toxic soup' of chemicals," added Professor Andrew Watterson, head of OEHSRG and co-researcher of the study. "Untangling work and wider factors in the possible causes of breast cancer is an important global issue."
In 2011, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced a bill entitled the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 that would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to address this disparity between the number of chemicals in use today, and the number of chemicals that have been properly tested for carcinogenicity. A 2010 report entitled The Health Case for Reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act has also called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reform the TCSA for this same purpose.
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