Study Links Household Cleaning Products to Breast Cancer

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The regular use of basic cleaning products in the home may double the risk of women developing breast cancer, a U.S. study found.

The study, published Tuesday in the international journal Environmental Health, suggests that using household cleaning products may contribute to an increased risk of women developing breast cancer.

The use of cleaners including air fresheners and mold removers doubled the risk of breast cancer in women who used them most often, the study found.

However, products including mothballs, pesticides and insect repellents had little impact on the risks of women developing breast cancer.

The study suggests that household cleaning products and pesticides may contribute to breast cancer because they contain "endocrine disrupting chemicals" or "mammary gland carcinogens."

Researchers asked 787 Massachusetts women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1988 and 1995 about which household cleaning products they used.

Researchers also questioned a further 721 women without breast cancer.The women were then asked for their beliefs about the causes of breast cancer.

However, the study's authors warned that "recall bias" may have skewered the results.

This means that patients who believed chemicals contributed heavily to the risk of developing breast cancer were more likely to report high use of cleaning products.

Not everyone was happy with the news of the study.

“Simply put, this research is rife with innuendo and speculation about the safety of cleaning products and their ingredients,” said Richard Sedlak, the American Cleaning Industry’s senior vice president of Technical and International Affairs, in a press release. “This is all based on the most cursory look at the scientific literature and the recollection of breast cancer survivors as to the products they used 15 to 20 years ago.”

“Although the authors recognize the potential bias in their results, present conflicting findings, and have no real gauge as to the products used by the interviewees so long ago, they proceed to make unscientific assumptions on a very shaky foundation. Unfortunately, this work sheds little light on the real causes of breast cancer.”