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Is Your Job Giving you Cancer?

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You already know cigarettes, asbestos, and arsenic can cause cancer, but what about the carcinogens you don’t know about? The ones you may be exposed to everyday at work, from your take-out food or lifestyle choices that are seemingly benign?

A new ]]>report]]> issued by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other global-leading health groups have outlined 20 “suspected” cancer-causing agents that previous research has raised substantial concerns about, but that remain unresolved. Researchers say a knowledge gap exists, so more research is needed to know if these commonly used occupational agents definitively cause cancer in humans.

So what are these agents and who’s at risk? Here are four of the most common.

1. Styrene

Styrene and its chemical compound cousin, styrene-7,-8-oxide, is ubiquitous in our daily lives as a key component in synthetic rubbers, fiberglass and a wide array of consumer products—from food packaging and plastic, to carpet backing and cigarette smoke.

Does it have a cancer link?

Yes. In 1994 styrene and styrene-7,-8-oxide was classified as “probably carcinogenic” to humans because research showed DNA chromosomal damage and gene mutations in styrene workers. Later two main epidemiological studies revealed a potential link between styrene to human blood cancers and pancreatic cancers. Bladder and kidney cancers have also been linked in some studies. Some evidence exists that styrene exposure can potentially increase prolactin and thereby have a potential relationship to breast cancer.

How do I avoid it?
It won’t be easy. For the general public, residues that leach from food packaging appear to be the single largest source of exposure, followed by indoor air quality. Smokers are most exposed though tobacco smoke.

2. Titanium Dioxide

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EmpowHER Guest

Research by national and international agencies has found that exposure to styrene does not increase the risk of human cancer, even in those exposed to styrene at levels thousands of times greater than low levels detected in the environment.

To date, no regulatory health organization has classified styrene as a carcinogen. Moreover, a study conducted by a "blue ribbon" panel of epidemiologists and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (November 2009) reports: "The evidence of human carcinogenicity of styrene is inconsistent and weak. On the basis of the available evidence, one cannot conclude that there is a causal relationship between styrene and any type of human cancer."

Priscilla Briones for the Styrene Information and Research Center (SIRC), Arlington, Virginia. SIRC (www.styrene.org) is a trade association representing interests of the North American styrene industry with its mission being the collection, development, analysis and communication of pertinent information on styrene. SIRC has sponsored approximately $20 million dollars in research over nearly 25 years to better understand the potential, if any, effects styrene may have on human health and the environment.

July 20, 2010 - 6:54pm
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