Plastics and Other Common Household Items Cause Cancer

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EPA Science Panel Says Teflon Chemical 'Likely' Cause of Cancer

Expert Panel Urges EPA to Strengthen Safety Review of Teflon Chemical
Majority Calls Widespread Pollutant "Likely Human Carcinogen"
UPDATE: On January 30, the EPA posted its outside panel's draft report suggesting that the Agency strengthen its study of the Teflon chemical PFOA and call it a "likely" human carcinogen. On February 15, the Agency will meet with its outside panel by phone to discuss this important recommendation. The meeting notice is available online at

http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-SAB/2006/January/Day-30/sab583.htm.

For Immediate Release: January 30, 2006
Contact: EWG Public Affairs, (202) 667-6982

(WASHINGTON, Jan. 30) — Today, a panel of outside experts gave draft comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) saying that an indestructible, toxic chemical that pollutes nearly every American's blood is a "likely human carcinogen." The panel urged the agency to adopt stricter guidelines to protect human health, according to a majority of its members. This announcement follows news just last week that the EPA signed a voluntary agreement with the chemical's maker, DuPont, and seven other companies to reduce the chemical's use in products by 95 percent over the next five years and aim for total elimination of its use by 2015.

"This indestructible nonstick chemical meets the government's criteria of a 'likely human carcinogen,'" said Tim Kropp, senior scientist at Environmental Working Group (EWG). "We are pleased that the Science Advisory Board (SAB) concurred with many of the concerns we have raised about the hazards of PFOA. There is growing consensus that health officials should err on the side of precaution with any industrial chemical that ends up in human blood, but especially chemicals like PFOA that are toxic and indestructible. We applaud the EPA for reaching an agreement with industry to dramatically lower the amount of this chemical in popular consumer products, and we urge the agency to adopt a similarly strong stance to protect the public from possible health risks associated with this chemical."

Specifically, the EPA's outside expert panel told the agency to:

Consider immune and nervous system effects on animals in its study of possible human health risks; and
Use a more health-protective and scientifically valid approach to studying human health risks from the chemical.
Most of the experts on the panel called PFOA a "likely human carcinogen," not a "suggested human carcinogen," as the EPA had proposed.

Richard Wiles, EWG's senior vice president, called on the EPA to bar from any future relationship with any EPA advisory panel two SAB panel members who are scientific advisors to the chemical industry front group the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). The two panel members, Michael Kamrin and Ernest Abel, have consistently downplayed the toxicity of PFOA, in stark contrast to the concerns expressed by the majority of panel members.

Gilbert Ross, ACSH's medical director, was recently exposed as a convicted felon who served jail time for Medicaid fraud and perjury in the 1990s and lost his medical license in New York.

Teflon and other nonstick cookware; clothing and carpeting that have stain-repellent coatings; fast food packaging that repels grease and oil; cleaning products; cosmetics and many other consumer products are made with chemicals that break down into PFOA in our bodies.

This chemical pollutes over 95 percent of Americans' blood, including all 10 newborns surveyed in a study EWG commissioned last summer. PFOA never breaks down in the environment, so every molecule of it produced since the 1950s or earlier will forever be in our air, water and bodies. In animals, PFOA causes cancer, birth defects and other health problems.

Household Plastics Linked to Breast Cancer

The contaminant bisphenol-A (BPA)—widely used to make many plastics found in food storage containers and dental products—can //have long-term effects in female// development, according to a recent study by Yale School of Medicine researchers.

Lead investigator Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences (Ob/Gyn) at Yale, said the study shows that BPA changes the expression of key developmental genes that form the uterus. Taylor explained that if pregnant women are exposed to the estrogen-like properties found in BPA, it may impact female reproductive tract development and the future fertility of female fetuses the mother is carrying.

The study was conducted on pregnant female mice by administering a range of doses of BPA on days 9-16 of their pregnancies. The aim was to see what interaction BPA would have with the HOXA10 gene, which is necessary for uterine development.

Taylor and co-author Caroline C. Smith of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine, found that BPA does, in fact, alter the expression of the HOXA 10 gene, implying that exposure to the popular plastics component may lead to infertility in humans.

'The net effect is concerning,' said Taylor. 'We are all exposed to multiple estrogen-like chemicals in industrial products, food and pollutants.'

BPA is found in plastics, including baby bottles, epoxy resins used in canned goods and dental sealants. In addition to this new link to fertility and reproductive health, previous findings by Csaba Leranth, M.D., also in Yale Ob/Gyn, found that low doses of BPA in female rats inhibited estrogen induction in the brain. This can lead to learning impairment and, in old age, the onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Source-YALE University
SM

'Bisphenol A' (BPA) a chemical that is used in hard plastics that are commonly used in the household can increase risk of developing breast cancer,// according to a new study. Researchers from Indiana University and the University of California report their findings in the recent issue of Chemistry and Biology journal. The researchers were able to prove that the chemical, bisphenol sulfate, which is the metabolized form of Bisphenol-A, is taken up by breast cancer cells, but not by healthy cells. However these findings were conducted only in the lab and hence it is wrong to assume that breast cancer is caused by such chemicals. "We've shown that modified versions of BPA likely to be formed in the body do stimulate breast tumor cell growth in vitro. Enzymes present on the surface of breast tumor cells appear to convert the modified BPA back into BPA," said lead researcher Theodore Widlanski, a biochemist at Indiana University. Bisphenol-A is also present in mineral water bottles, CDs and DVDs, car parts and other household products. "We have only demonstrated a possible mechanism that explains what people have been speculating about for years," Widlanski cautioned.

Plastics In Common Household Items May Cause Fertility Defects

The contaminant bisphenol-A (BPA) - widely used to make many plastics found in food storage containers and dental products - can have long-term effects in female development, according to a recent study by Yale School of Medicine researchers.

Lead investigator Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences (Ob/Gyn) at Yale, said the study shows that BPA changes the expression of key developmental genes that form the uterus. Taylor explained that if pregnant women are exposed to the estrogen-like properties found in BPA, it may impact female reproductive tract development and the future fertility of female fetuses the mother is carrying.

The study was conducted on pregnant female mice by administering a range of doses of BPA on days 9-16 of their pregnancies. The aim was to see what interaction BPA would have with the HOXA10 gene, which is necessary for uterine development.

Taylor and co-author Caroline C. Smith of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine, found that BPA does, in fact, alter the expression of the HOXA 10 gene, implying that exposure to the popular plastics component may lead to infertility in humans.

The net effect is concerning," said Taylor. "We are all exposed to multiple estrogen-like chemicals in industrial products, food and pollutants."

BPA is found in plastics, including baby bottles, epoxy resins used in canned goods and dental sealants. In addition to this new link to fertility and reproductive health, previous findings by Csaba Leranth, M.D., also in Yale Ob/Gyn, found that low doses of BPA in female rats inhibited estrogen induction in the brain. This can lead to learning impairment and, in old age, the onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

Citation: The FASEB Journal (Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology) Vol. 21, 239-246 (January 2007)

Long-term Exposure to Incense Raises Cancer Risk

Incense smoke contains carcinogenic substances

Exposure to burning incense over long periods of time raises the risk of developing cancers of the upper respiratory tract, a new study shows.

Interestingly, the practice did not increase the overall risk of lung cancer.

"Given that our results are backed by numerous experimental studies showing that incense is a powerful producer of particulate matter and that incense smoke contains carcinogenic substances, I believe incense should be used with caution," said study author Dr. Jeppe Friborg, of the department of epidemiology research at Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. "That is, frequent use in rooms where people live should be minimized, or at least sufficient ventilation should be secured. In our study, we find the increased risk of cancer to be present in individuals reporting frequent use of incense for many years, thus, repeated exposure for years should probably be avoided."

Others echoed the thought.

"The American Lung Association is going to add it as a risk factor," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer of the association. "It's not nearly the danger of smoking a pack a day for 20 years, but it's a danger."

Not only is incense burned regularly as part of daily life in large swaths of Asia, the practice is also popular among certain segments in the West.

Incense burning produces particulate matter and is known to contain possible carcinogens such as polyaromatic hyodrcarbons (PAHs), carbonyls and benzene.

There have also been reports linking the burning of incense with cancer but the results have been inconsistent.

For this study, researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with more than 61,000 Singapore Chinese aged 45 to 74 who were cancer-free at the beginning of the study.

Incense burning almost doubled the risk of developing squamous cell upper respiratory tract carcinomas including nasal/sinus, tongue, mouth and laryngeal. There was an increased risk both in smokers and in nonsmokers, pointing to an independent effect of incense smoke.

There was no overall increased risk of lung cancer, but it did heighten the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.

Will incense go the way of tobacco? Not necessarily, said some experts.

"Certainly I think bathing yourself in particles is probably not the smartest thing in the world . . . but I think very few people fill up their room with incense," said Dr. Arthur Frankel, a professor of medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of the Cancer Center, Cancer Research Institute and Division of Hematology/Oncology at Scott & White in Temple.

The findings, which are in the Oct. 1 issue of Cancer, might also point researchers toward other household practices that should be investigated.

"It's a population-based study, which means that you can make an association but not necessarily a conclusion," said Dr. Erin Fleener, a clinical assistant professor in internal medicine at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and an oncologist at the Bryan-College Station Cancer Clinic. "It probably promotes more work in the area of routine household items and things we need to be looking at more prospectively to make a clear cause-and-effect relationship."

In general, though, it's not a bad idea to avoid environmental pollutants of various types.

"Anything that affects air quality negatively is not a good thing," said Dr. Len Horvitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "Burning in general and the release of smoke, these things are certainly to be avoided. At the very least, chemical irritants will set off asthma, and that's reversible. Cancer is not reversible."

"This is not unlike the type of risk that one experiences from secondhand tobacco smoke," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. "At the end of the day, people who use incense casually, I don't think that's a cause for major concern, but those cultures which embrace incense as part of their daily lifestyles have to consider this has a real potential risk for cancer."

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