16 July, 2019

Breast Cancer UK welcomes today’s publication of the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Life, and its recommendations to deal with the growing problem of chemical pollution that may be linked to increased breast cancer risk.

Our Head of Science, Dr Margaret Wexler says: We have long been concerned that exposure to certain chemicals – in particular, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) – is making us more vulnerable to breast cancer. Incidence rates have increased by 25% in the UK over the last 20 years and are predicted to rise by a further 2% between 2014 and 2035.

The committee’s report demands urgent Government action by highlighting the inadequacy of today’s public health measures with regards to EDCs, which include certain types of harmful flame retardant. The report highlights current UK fire safety regulations which result in the widespread use of flame retardants in UK furniture and furnishings. We support fully the committee’s recommendation that these regulations are reformed, as a matter of urgency,.

EDCs are used in many everyday items such as toys, plastics, furnishings, clothing, cosmetics and cleaning products. They have the ability to interfere with or mimic normal hormonal functions, which may result in harmful health effects including an increase in breast cancer risk.  Evidence suggests that chemicals such as these can affect babies still in the womb, can be passed on via breast milk, and make small children highly vulnerable.

Further reading:

Environmental Audit Committee report- Toxic Chemicals in Everyday life

Our written submission to the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into Toxic chemicals

Our background briefing on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

Our background briefing on Flame Retardants

Notes to Editors

Breast Cancer UK’s mission is to prevent breast cancer through scientific research, collaboration, education and policy change. We educate and raise awareness of the preventable risk factors for breast cancer and provide practical information to help people reduce their risk. We campaign for policies that support prevention and we fund scientific research to better understand and address preventable risk factors.

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