Adopting a healthy lifestyle and eliminating habits that are detrimental to your well-being are critical keys to reducing your risk of cancer. However, as Environmental Working Group (EWG) points out, “cutting down on the number of toxic chemicals in your life is also critical to keeping you and your family healthy and cancer-free.” Sadly, chemicals that can harm your family are everywhere — in food, toys, school supplies, food packaging, clothing, furniture, your home and so much more. This in mind, EWG has just released a new consumer guide highlighting 12 of the very worst cancer-causing chemicals around. The chemicals featured within the guide are known to disrupt cancer-related pathways, so keep reading to see what made the list, plus see some advice EWG is offering to help you avoid these toxins.

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The EWG consumer Dirty Dozen: Cancer Prevention Edition showcases 12 big bad chemicals that may lead to cancer. Below are the top five:

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA) – harmful BPA effects include breast and prostate cancer, regional decline in sperm counts, early sexual maturation in females, increasing neurobehavioral problems, increasing prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and immune system effects, among others.
  2. Atrazine – linked to a number of serious health effects such as endocrine disruption, reduced male fertility, low birth weight, elevated risk of breast and prostate cancer and much more.
  3. Organophosphate Pesticides: Most organophosphates are classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as highly or moderately toxic, interfering with the nervous system and causing nausea, headaches, twitching, trembling, behavioral problems and lower cognitive function in children, adverse effects on the reproductive system and neurological disorders.
  4. Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) – a member of the group of chemicals commonly known as phthalates, DBP may cause developmental defects, reduced sperm counts, liver and kidney failure in young children and more.
  5. Lead – known as harmful to almost every organ system in the body, lead is linked to lowered IQ, miscarriage, kidney and nervous system damage and hormone disruption.

Rounding out the dirty dozen are: mercury, PFCs, phthalates, DEHP, PBDEs, triclosan and nonylphenol. As a starting point to avoiding these harmful chemicals buy eco-friendly products whenever possible, use green cleaners, opt for fresh food vs. food in cans or plastic, use a reputable water filter, go organic, limit your use of soft plastics for purposes such as storing food and limit the use of PVC plastics. To learn more about the 12 chemicals thought to cause cancer along with lots of tips about how to avoid them, check out the Dirty Dozen: Cancer Prevention Edition guide.

RELATED | GUIDE: How to shop for non-GMO food

+ EWG’s Dirty Dozen: Cancer Prevention Edition


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