The Columbus Dispatch - Study suggests link of cleaners to breast cancer

July 20, 2010

By Misti Crane

Excerpt: A survey of Massachusetts women has found a potential link between the use of household cleaners and air fresheners and breast cancer.

The study included interviews with 787 women who had breast cancer and 721 who did not. Researchers asked all the women about pesticide use but found little association.

But when about 400 women in each group were asked about cleaning products, researchers found a potential connection.

In fact, breast-cancer risk was highest among women who reported the most use of cleaning products and air fresheners; it was double the risk for those who reported low use of the products. Most study participants were white and middle-aged and were part of the Cape Cod Breast Cancer and Environment Study, which had financial support from the state of Massachusetts.

The results are published in the journal Environmental Health.

The connection was drawn mostly between mold and mildew cleaners and air fresheners. Surface and oven cleaners were not associated with increased risk. Chemicals of concern include synthetic musks, phthalates, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, terpenes, benzene and styrene and some antimicrobial agents, said Julia Brody, the lead researcher and executive director of the Silent Spring Institute.

Household Exposure Study: Cape Cod, Massachusetts