Do Household Products Affect Breast Health?

Do Household Products Affect Breast Health?

According to, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. Statistics show that about 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer. Since October is breast cancer awareness month, we want you to know there are ways you may be able to prevent breast cancer by what you eat!  Health related articles do not often document advice for good breast health. I’m always looking for articles with specific tips for good breast health. One area of interest is a possible connection between household (cleaning) products and breast cancer.

We cleanse our homes to make them clean and pure, but some products homemakers are using are also introducing chemicals into their environment that are increasingly being linked with women’s breast cancer rates. Are you at risk?

Specific Findings Regarding How Household Products Affect Good Breast Health

A recent study, where participants were 787 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 1988 and 1995 and a control group of 721, found that breast cancer risk increased twofold among women reporting the highest use of home cleaning products. “Results of this study suggest that cleaning product use contributes to increased breast cancer risk,” they wrote. “Household cleaning and pesticide products may contribute to breast cancer because many contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals or mammary gland carcinogens.”

Health related articles confirm earlier research by a doctor and certified industrial hygienist with training in epidemiology and toxicology. He was the environmental sampling director for a three-year grant investigating contaminants found in manufactured housing and was the principal investigator for a one-year pilot study of household hazardous chemicals, which reported the results of a household survey on the range of exposure to homemakers to toxic chemicals, including those brought home by spouses who are industrial workers.

One might argue that the exposure time involved in home cleaning is short compared to industrial settings. But, ammonia, for instance, has a regulatory limit in the workplace for 15 minutes of exposure of 35 parts per million, which could easily be achieved when cleaning an unventilated room in the home. Recommended and required personal protective equipment would be used in industry, whereas this would rarely be used in the home environment. It seems to be evident that good breast health can be affected by exposure to certain chemicals.

In a study using information compiled from a U.S. National Health Survey for the years 1970 to 1975 and 1982 to 1987, mortality rates were recorded for homemakers. The risk of cancer and other chronic respiratory disease remained elevated with a rate 55% greater than women employed outside the home even after adjustments were made for differences between chronic diseases and smoking rate. “Coupled with the observation that homemakers may be exposed to carcinogens in their workplace (the home), very often in unventilated spaces, the conclusion seems plausible that homemakers are at an increased risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.”

Even more shocking than these statistics, is the outright toxicity of some household cleaning products, as demonstrated in a preliminary toxicity test performed in May of 1996 on four household cleaning products, including Bathroom Cleaner and Soap Scum Remover. When adult drosophilia (fruit fly) females were fed on dilutions of the cleaners, the researcher found extreme toxicity at comparatively low levels of exposure. All exposed females were dead within 48 hours when given only a 20% solution of Bathroom Cleaner. Sixteen of 20 females died within the same time period when exposed to the same dilution of 409 All Purpose Cleaner. A 30% solution of Direct Cleaner killed all female fruit flies within 48 hours. The same dilution of Soap Scum Remover killed all of the flies within the same time period. The significance of these findings goes beyond the relevance to insects in that the genetic damage suffered by this particular species correlates well with results from mammalian test systems.


Health related articles seem to document that you should not risk good breast health just because you want a clean home. The studies that show the links between household cleaning products and cancer are growing in number. Certainly, women who are frequently homemakers, need to be careful about what they bring into their home. Their health and the health of their family is at stake. What you clean with does make a difference. It actually makes a big difference. Hopefully, more health related articles will be written on this topic with specific research and documentation.

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