20 Common Chemicals and Pollutants That Can Increase the Risk of Cancer—Particularly in Children

20 Common Chemicals and Pollutants That Can Increase the Risk of Cancer—Particularly in Children

Read complete article … https://www.alternet.org/books/20-common-chemicals-and-pollutants-can-increase-risk-cancer-particularly-childre?akid=16682.23062.62MnOZ&rd=1&src=newsletter1088058&t=30

Many cancer-causing substances are lurking all around us.

By Philip J. Landrigan, Mary M. Landrigan / Oxford University Press……January 27, 2018, 12:00 PM GMT………The following excerpt is from Children and Environmental Toxins: What Everyone Needs to Know, by Philip J Landrigan and Mary M. Landrigan (Oxford University Press, 2018). Reprinted with permission.

Aflatoxins are a group of toxic chemicals produced in warm, damp climates by various types of fungi and molds that grow on peanuts, corn, and other nuts. Aflatoxins can cause liver cancer in people who ingest contaminated food products

Air pollution is the aerosolized “toxic chemical soup” that we now all breathe. Outdoor air pollution includes breathable fine particulates of soot from vehicle exhaust and industrial smokestacks, as well toxic gases from fuel combustion—carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides, and other chemical compounds. The reaction of these fine particulates and toxic gases with ground-level ozone, a respiratory irritant formed when ultraviolet light or electrical discharges react with oxygen, produces urban smog. Outdoor air pollution is a carcinogen.

Anabolic steroids, particularly anabolic androgenic steroids used illegally by some athletes to enhance muscle bulk and improve performance, are carcinogenic. They have been shown to be a cause of liver cancer.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element that can be found in air, water, and soil and that can cause cancers of the bladder, skin, lung, gastrointestinal system, liver, kidney, and blood. It occurs as a contaminant in water supplies, which can result in chronic exposure.

Asbestos is the name given to a group of fibrous minerals that occur naturally in geologic formations around the world, but especially in Canada, Russia, Brazil, Western Australia, and South Africa. All types of asbestos are known carcinogens and must be carefully avoided.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that has been widely used since the 1980s and is found today in thousands of products worldwide, notably in diet beverages. Previously it was considered safe, but large, long-term animal studies are now indicating that aspartame may be a potential cause of leukemia. Exposures to aspartame during pregnancy appear to especially hazardous and are associated in animal studies with increased rates of cancer in offspring.

Benzene is a thin, colorless, sweet-smelling solvent used in industry and manufacturing. Commercial products containing benzene include paint strippers, cleaners, adhesives, and glues. Exposure to benzene can cause leukemia, lymphoma, and other blood disorders.

Benzene was once a widely used solvent valued as a household spot remover and solvent for grease related to automotive or handyman projects in the home. However, the major risk to children today from benzene is through exposure to gasoline, which contains benzene. Children and teens can be exposed to benzene while pumping gasoline at a self-service station or when fueling small engines, such as lawnmowers. Benzene can also be absorbed into the body through the skin if fuel is splashed onto the skin.

Benzopyrene is a black, sooty, burnt substance that is formed when grilling food, burning toast, or roasting coffee and smoking tobacco. Car exhaust, wood fires, and forest fires can also contain benzopyrene. Benzopyrene has been linked to stomach and lung cancer.

Cadmium is a metallic element linked with bladder and possibly pancreatic cancer. A component of outdoor air pollution, cadmium is released into the environment from incinerators and zinc refineries. Commercial uses of cadmium include paint pigments, plastics, and batteries. Cadmium is also found in tobacco smoke.

DDTis an organochlorine pesticide that has been recently linked to breast cancer when exposure occurs early in life. Women who were exposed to DDT as young girls have a higher incidence of breast cancer in later life than other women. An elevated risk of breast cancer is also seen in women whose mothers who were exposed to DDT while they were pregnant with them. These findings demonstrate how toxic environmental exposures during windows of developmental vulnerability in early life influence risk of disease across the life span.

Diethylstilbesterol (DES) was a medication given in the 1960s and 70s to pregnant women who were in danger of having a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. It is a known cause of vaginal cancer in young women who were exposed to it prenatally and it also causes some reproductive changes in males. There are some data indicating that the health effects of DES may be multigenerational.

Diesel exhaustcontains dirtier and more toxic fumes than gasoline exhaust. Diesel exhaust is comprised of soot, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, several oxides of nitrogen and sulfur, formaldehyde, and benzopyrene. One of the most toxic components of diesel exhaust is 1,3-butadiene, a powerful carcinogen. Diesel exhaust has been classified as a known human carcinogen.

Dioxins are highly toxic, cancer-causing chemicals that are produced during the incineration of PVC plastics and other chlorine-containing compounds, such as PCBs. They are persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and have been found in milk, food, and even infant formula and breast milk. High-fat foods, such as meat, milk, and eggs, contain trace amounts of dioxins that are transferred to people who eat these foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annual survey lists dioxins as one of the 200 environmental chemicals found in the bodies of most Americans. (See also TCDD.)

Formaldehyde is a chemical widely used in household products, such as particleboard, pressed wood, plywood,glues, adhesives, paper products, insulation, and industrial resins. Perhaps it is best known as the chemical responsible for the “new furniture” or “new car” smell that is detected as newly purchased items release formaldehyde into the environment. Formaldehyde has been linked to leukemia and other cancers.

Lindane, also known as HCB (hexachlorobenzene), is an insecticide banned for agricultural use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1976 because it is a persistent organic pollutant. However, lindane is still available by medical prescription as a treatment for lice. It is a cause of liver cancer. Safer treatments for head lice now exist.

Nitrosamine is a toxic chemical produced in the body during the digestion of nitrate-containing preserved meats, such as hot dogs, luncheon meats, and sausages. This carcinogen is also found in tobacco smoke. Nitrosamines are classified as probable carcinogens linked to digestive system cancers.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are highly chlorinated compounds formerly used in electrical insulation. They are highly persistent in the environment. They have been classified as carcinogens.

Perchloroethylene, also called PERC or tetrachloroethylene, is a solvent used in dry cleaning and metal degreasing. It is a probable carcinogen that may be linked to leukemia, bladder cancer, and lymphomas.

Pesticide exposure is linked various types of cancer, especially among farmworkers, their families, and people who live in agricultural areas. Several pesticides—glyphosate (RoundUp), malathion, and diazinon—have been classified as probable human carcinogens with links to lymphomas and other cancers. Tetrachlorvinphos and parathion are classified as possible carcinogens on the basis of data from animal studies.

Radiation has many forms, and each kind of radiation contains a specific amount and type of energy. The forms of radiation differ from one another in the ways they deliver energy to the human body and in the damage they produce.


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