Women's health * Healthy living

Household cleaners cancer risk

Household cleaners  cancer risk Ups breast cancer risk, study claims

Regularly using some household cleaners and air fresheners may increase a woman's risk of breast cancer, new research suggests.

A US study of more than 1,500 women found that those who reported using more air fresheners and mould and mildew removers were twice as likely to develop breast cancer.

Researchers from the Silent Spring Institute interviewed 787 women who had breast cancer and another 721 who were healthy. All were questioned about what household cleaning products they used.

They found that among household cleaning products, air freshener use almost doubled the risk of developing breast cancer.

But home and garden pesticides, mothballs and oven cleaners had little effect on the risk of developing the disease.

"To our knowledge, this is the first published report on cleaning product use and risk of breast cancer," said Dr Julia Brody.

"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 mould and mildew control were associated with increased risk."

However, the researchers also found that women with breast cancer who believed that chemicals and and pollutants contribute "a lot" to the risk of developing the condition were more likely to report high product usage, which could affected the results of the study.

If women were the first in their family to develop breast cancer, they are more likely to think it has been caused by something from their past, such as contact with chemical pollutants.

"As a result, it may be that women with breast cancer more accurately recall their past product use or even overestimate it," Dr Brody said.

In order to avoid possible bias in the future, researchers recommended further research into the use of cleaning products and breast cancer.

This article was published on Tue 20 July 2010

Image © mark huls - Fotolia.com

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