Study links common household chemicals with rising rates of cancer
Common household chemicals may be a contributing factor behind significant increases in cancers and falling fertility, according to a new study released by the European Environment Agency (EEA).
The chemicals which disrupt the hormone system — also known as 'endocrine disrupting chemicals' (EDCs) — may also be responsible for the rising rate of diabetes and an increased number of neurological development problems in both humans and animals, according to a review of recent scientific literature commissioned by the EEA.
Chemicals which can potentially disrupt the endocrine system can be found in food, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, household products and cosmetics. In recent decades, there has been a significant growth in many human diseases and disorders including breast and prostate cancer, male infertility and diabetes.
Many scientists think that this growth is connected to the rising levels of exposure to mixtures of some chemicals in widespread use.
"Scientific research gathered over the last few decades shows us that endocrine disruption is a real problem, with serious effects on wildlife, and possibly people", EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said. "It would be prudent to take a precautionary approach to many of these chemicals until their effects are more fully understood."
The Weybridge +15 (1996-2011) report on endocrine disruptors was launched at Brunel University today. It is the result of an international workshop that evaluated the findings of the last 15 years of research.
Today's report follows the 1996 Weybridge report and associated workshop, where the problem of EDCs was first comprehensively discussed by regulatory authorities and scientists together.
The report shows clearly that there is strong evidence of harm from EDCs in some wildlife species and in laboratory studies using rodent models for human health. However, the effects of EDCs on humans may be more difficult to demonstrate, due to the length, cost and methodological difficulties with these types of studies — so wildlife and animal studies may be seen in some cases as an early warning of the dangers.
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