What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice, of course. And little boys may be full of snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails, but both boys and girls—and us grown-ups too—are likely to have as many as 400 cancer-causing chemicals in our bodies these days, says a startling new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on carcinogens in the human body.
Best known for list-building like its “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists that rank fruits and vegetables by their pesticide residue (using USDA data), EWG has compiled a list of cancer-causing chemicals common in popular consumer products, food, water, and air, in a new report entitled "The Pollution in People: Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Americans' Bodies."
The group pulled data from government agencies, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to compile the list, which contains about 420 carcinogenic chemicals routinely found in blood and urine samples.
“More than 1,400 chemicals and chemical groups are known or likely carcinogens,” EWG explains in the report that singles out the most common chemicals we're likely exposed to on a regular basis.
“Federal health officials have measured many of these chemicals in our systems but the scope and range of carcinogenic pollution in people, known as body burden, has not been tallied – until now.”
From asbestos to pesticides, chemical solvents, and more, the comprehensive list details the health risks, sources of exposure, and average detectable levels in blood or urine samples.
The report also details the risks of combined chemical exposure such as Bisphenol A, or BPA, which is commonly found in food and beverage containers and cash register receipts, heavy metals sometimes found in drinking water, and perfluorooctanoic acid, which is used in fabric stain repellents. According to the report, this combination has effects in the body similar to the consumption of tobacco. There are thousands of chemical combination risks like this.
Nearly 2 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year, with genetics only responsible for a small number of the cases. Much of today's cancer risk factors can be attributed to diet, lifestyle, and environment.
“The array of carcinogens detected in humans is alarming,” says the EWG report. “It underscores how much work is needed to reduce and eliminate toxic chemicals, particularly carcinogens, from our daily lives.”
You can read the full report here.
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