Breast cancer link to cleaning products and air fresheners

Air fresheners and some cleaning products increase the risk of breast cancer, a study suggests.

Women who regularly used a combination of cleaning products were twice as likely to have breast cancer as other healthy women, US scientists found. The strongest link was between cancer and air fresheners and mould and mildew removers.

Increased incidence of cancer was also linked to insect repellents.

But there was no connection with home and garden pesticides and surface and oven cleaners.

The researchers admitted the study was imperfect because they asked cancer sufferers to remember whether they had used cleaning products and the strongest correlation was found among those who believed chemicals contributed to the disease. But they defended the findings as "biologically plausible", saying many air fresheners and cleaning products contained endocrine-disrupting chemicals linked to breast cancer in laboratory experiments on rodents.

They said synthetic musks and phthalates were commonly used in solid and spray fresheners and antimicrobials, phthalates and alkylphenolic surfactants were found in many mould and mildew products.

Researchers from Silent Spring Institute, Massachusetts, and Boston University interviewed 787 women with breast cancer and 721 healthy women for the study.

The women – who all lived in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts – were asked about their use of cleaning products and pesticides, and split into four groups ranging between high and low users.

According to the study, published in the journal Environmental Health: "Women who reported the highest combined cleaning product use had a doubled risk of breast cancer compared to those with the lowest reported use. Use of air fresheners and products for mould and mildew control were associated with increased risk."

The authors said their work was the first into a potential link between breast cancer and cleaning products.

Breast Cancer Research UK and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, which campaign against confirmed carcinogens such as cigarette smoke, said conclusions could not be drawn from it because it suffered from "recall bias". "This small study asked women with breast cancer to remember how often they used cleaning products many years ago," said Jessica Harris, Cancer Research's health information officer.

"It only linked the products to breast cancer among women who believed chemicals could cause breast cancer, and not in women who didn't think such products caused the disease."

Philip Malpass, director general of the UK Cleaning Products Industry Association, said UK brands did not contain substances shown to cause cancer, adding: "We agree with the US authors who recognise that these results could arise simply from selective or biased recall of cleaning product use."

Clare Dimmer, chair of trustees at Breast Cancer UK, said: "Although we will have to wait for more research before we can be sure about the link, some women already diagnosed with the disease may want to take a precautionary approach and review the levels of potentially-hazardous chemicals in the products they use."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living