plastics, Parabens, phthlates, detergents, comercial chemical sprayed food,
meats-----increase breast cancer risk right?
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Breast cancer link to plastic
Chemicals in plastics like some drink bottles, babies' bottles and food containers are raising women's risk of breast cancer, says a visiting US expert.
Dr Maricel Maffini, a biologist specialising in environmental causes of breast cancer, also warns people to avoid microwaving food in plastic containers and raises concerns about chemicals leaching from canned food.
Maffini will this week speak in Rotorua at the first national breast cancer conference, organised by the Breast Cancer Network. Her research focuses on the links between breast cancer and chemicals like bisphenol A, found in many items including polycarbonate plastic containers. Bisphenol A increases exposure to oestrogen which lifts the risk of breast cancer.
"The problem is these bottles leach bisphenol A, so you are constantly drinking a low level of bisphenol A," she told the Sunday Star-Times from Boston's Tufts University School of Medicine where she's a research assistant professor.
"The main argument of companies that produce the plastic bottles is the levels are so low, they are harmless but the exposure is chronic."
Food Safety Authority spokesman Gary Bowering said ESR research had led the authority to conclude NZ consumers should not change their consumption because local foods had less or comparable levels of bisphenol A as those overseas.
Bowering said the ESR research, carried out in 2004, did not cover bottled water, but did cover soft drinks, which have higher acidity and were more likely to be harsher on containers.
"This would suggest bottled water is of even less concern," he said.
Aimee Driscoll, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Amatil, said it did not use plastics containing bisphenol A in its bottles in New Zealand.
Dr Peter Plimmer, a plastics technology consultant to Auckland University and Plastics NZ, said there was "no way" anyone drinking from a hand-held bottle here could be exposed to bisphenol A. He said hand-held drinking bottles were made from PETE (polyethylene) plastics which did not contain bisphenol A.
Maffini's speech this week will focus on breast cancer incidence which has risen from one in 22 US women in the 1940s to one in every seven women in 2004 and its links with environmental toxins.
In New Zealand, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Latest figures available, from 2004, show 2361 people (including 22 men) were diagnosed with breast cancer and 642 women and four men died from the disease.
Maffini attributes the rise to women getting increased exposure to oestrogen, caused by more chemicals, fewer children and a change in what we're eating. She says research shows that even exposure to some chemicals in the womb increases the risk of breast cancer in later life.
Studies done in her laboratory had shown that amniotic fluid surrounding babies in the womb had five times as much bisphenol A as mothers had in their blood.
"There's a lot of very convincing data that even low doses can start a tremendous effect later in life."
She also has concerns about bisphenol A leaching from plastic baby bottles and recommends mums breastfeed or use glass bottles. High temperatures and detergents used to sterilise baby bottles increase the leaching of bisphenol A, she says.
Bowering said more work needs to be done on bisphenol A levels leaching into baby bottles, but scientific evidence, at this stage, indicates people did not necessarily need to change bottle types.
Several other chemicals, including DDT found in pesticides, and phthlates in some shampoos, deodorants and other cosmetics, have also been linked with increasing oestrogen production and lifting breast cancer risk.
Maffini says she tries to use less toxic cleaning products and low-grade cosmetics, with fewer chemicals. She avoids products containing DDT. She tries to eat organic fruit and veges, washed well, and plenty of fish rather than beef or chicken raised with hormones.
REDUCE YOUR RISK
DO: Eat plenty of thoroughly washed, chemical-free fruit and vegetables
Eat plenty of fish
Try to use "green" detergents, which have fewer chemicals
Breastfeed if you can
Get plenty of exercise and keep your weight down.
DON'T: Drink out of plastic bottles
Use plastic baby bottles, if possible
Heat or microwave food in plastic containers
Use cosmetics high in the chemicals: phthlates and parabens
Source: Dr Maricel Maffini, Tufts University, Boston