Millions of women face a greater risk of breast cancer because of man-made chemicals that are found in every home.
The chemicals are used in everyday foods, cosmetics, household products, plastic and even medical treatments.
Now alarming research has linked a surge in rates of breast cancer directly to the increased use of these synthetic substances.
Experts warn that as many as one in eight women is at risk of contracting breast cancer – a dramatic increase since the 1930s when the first reliable cancer figures were recorded.
A new report, by the respected Breast Cancer Fund, focuses on the unwitting exposure of women to the synthetic household chemicals.
“A substantial body of scientific evidence indicates that exposures to common chemicals and radiation contribute to the unacceptably high incidence of breast cancer,” said the report’s lead author Dr Janet Gray, a professor at Vassar College, New York. The research investigated all the scientific data on how breast cancer risk is increased by exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, carcinogens and radiation.
Jeanne Rizzo, president of the US-based Breast Cancer Fund, said: “The growing scientific evidence compels us to act to prevent breast cancer.
“This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our message is clear: we must move beyond awareness to prevention.”
The increasing incidence of breast cancer since the 1930s parallels the proliferation of synthetic chemicals.
Gwynne Lyons, director of the Chemicals, Health and Environment Monitoring Trust said: “Consumers have no idea about the nasty chemicals they are exposed to in products such as cosmetics, cleaning products, food packaging and DIY goods.
“Yet more and more scientists are raising the alarm and reporting numerous studies suggesting that some of these chemicals are involved in breast cancer.
“Of particular concern are chemicals in everyday use which can disrupt our hormones.
“It is high time that the UK Government and the European Commission took action to reduce women’s exposure to hormone- disrupting chemicals.”
Tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals are registered for use, the vast majority of which have never been tested for their effects on human health. The research comes as pressure increases for the hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A, used in the making of some babies’ bottles, to be banned.
Experts have warned that potentially dangerous amounts can leach from the bottles into milk.
Scientists, cancer and childbirth charities all say there is “compelling” evidence Bisphenol A is linked to breast cancer and other conditions.
But Ed Yong, Cancer Research UK’s head of health evidence and information, said: “The evidence that harmful chemicals and pollution are linked to breast cancer is still unclear.
“The risk of breast cancer is most strongly linked to age.”