‘50 everyday chemicals that raise cancer risk’


Fried potatoes… acrylamide, which is found in fried potatoes is among fifty everyday chemicals that could be combining to increase our risk of cancer, researchers say PHOTO:

FIFTY everyday chemicals, including one found in fried potatoes, could be combining to increase our risk of cancer, researchers say.

Previous studies may have under-estimated the danger because they did not take into account the risk the chemicals pose together.

A taskforce of 174 scientists across 28 countries reviewed studies looking at the link between mixtures of ‘common and unavoidable’ chemicals and the development of disease.

Fifty of the chemicals were rated as having small effects on the body at low doses and considered to pose little risk.

But the researchers suggest they could combine with other chemicals to trigger changes that could lead to cancer.

Among chemicals flagged up were triclosan, found in anti-bacterial handwash; phthalates, found in plastics; titanium dioxide, used in suncream; and acrylamide, which is found in fried potatoes.

The study was published in a special series of Oxford University Press’s Carcinogenesis journal.

The report published in DailyMailOnline says: “Current approaches to the study of chemical exposures and carcinogenesis (formation of cancer) have not been designed to address effects at low concentrations or in complex mixtures.”

Cancer biologist Dr. Hemad Yasaei, of Brunel University in London, said: “This research backs up the idea that chemicals not considered harmful by themselves are combining and accumulating in our bodies to trigger cancer and might lie behind the global cancer epidemic we are witnessing.

“We urgently need to focus more resources to research the effect of low dose exposure to mixtures of chemicals in the food we eat, air we breathe and water we drink.”

Current research estimates chemicals could be responsible for as many as one in five cancers. With the human population routinely exposed to thousands of chemicals, the effects need to be better understood to reduce the incidence of cancer globally.

Yasaei said he did not want people to be alarmed by the research, published in a special series of Oxford University Press’s Carcinogenesis journal.

The 50 chemicals were safe in low doses, but the research was carried out to highlight ‘a gap in our knowledge and we hope this will merit further investigation’, he said.

Current approaches to cancer test only the substance on its own, but other chemicals build up in our bodies over time and are present in our environments.

Yasaei said: “We don’t want to create a panic. What we are saying is we purposely did not look at chemicals already known to cause cancer directly, but chemicals that may cause a disturbance in a cell.”

He gave the example of atrazine, a weed-killer which is used on maize crops in the United States (U.S.) and which is regarded as safe.

He said it could come into contact with nickel, which is found in pots and pans – but the effects of the two chemicals in combination on the human body are not known.

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