On June 14, 2016 the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a new research report on its platform “Rethinking Cancer” (FPF reported). The report entitled “The pollution in people: Cancer-causing chemicals in Americans’ bodies” was prepared by EWG senior scientist Curt DellaValle, who reviewed the scientific literature and publicly available human biomarker datasets and hence compiled a “comprehensive inventory of known or likely carcinogens that have been measured in people.” DellaValle found that “up to 420 known or likely carcinogens have been measured in a diverse array of populations.” These substances comprise industrial chemicals (e.g. asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls), commercial products (e.g. bisphenol A (BPA, CAS 80-05-7), phthalates, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)), pesticides (e.g. glyphosate), heavy metals (e.g. arsenic, cadmium), byproducts of combustion, heating and disinfection (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), solvents (e.g. methylene chloride), and others (e.g. formaldehyde).

DellaValle explains that “the mere presence of a carcinogen in the body is not necessarily a serious health threat,” but “cancer develops in stages and many carcinogens disrupt multiple or overlapping biological pathways” (FPF reported) and thus “the combined effects of the many chemicals we are exposed to in real-life circumstances must also be taken into account.” He also refers to the Halifax Project, investigating the role of low-dose chemical mixtures in the development of malignant cancers (FPF reported). In conclusion, “reducing exposures to carcinogens, whether through regulation or personal choices, can have important health benefits,” the report states.

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DellaValle, C. (June 14, 2016). “The pollution in people: Cancer-causing chemicals in Americans’ bodies.EWG (pdf)