Combination of chemicals may trigger cancer, says research

The study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to humans and found 50 supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Monday 17 August 2015

A global taskforce has studied the connection between mixtures of common chemicals and the development of cancer in humans (Credit: Soil Science/Flickr)

A new research shows that 50 everyday chemicals that people are exposed to on a daily basis can cause cancer when they are combined.

A global taskforce comprising 174 scientists from leading research centres across the world has studied the connection between mixtures of common chemicals and the development of cancer in humans.

Cancer Biologist Hemad Yasaei from Brunel University, London, contributed his knowledge to the study regarding genes and molecular changes during cancer development.

He said, “This research backs the idea that chemicals not considered harmful by themselves may be combining and accumulating in our bodies to trigger cancer and might lie behind the global cancer epidemic we are witnessing. We urgently need to focus more resources to research the effect of low-dose exposure to mixtures of chemicals in the food we eat, air we breathe and water we drink.”

The study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to human beings and found 50 supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today.

Widespread concern about the combined effects of common chemicals prompted non-profit organisation—Getting To Know Cancer—led by Leroy Lowe from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to put the team together.

Scientists and their contribution

Andrew Ward from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, said, “A review on this scale, looking at environmental chemicals from the perspective of all the major hallmarks of cancer, is unprecedented.”

Francis Martin from Lancaster University, who contributed to an examination of how typical environmental exposures influence dysfunctional metabolism in cancer, supported this view.

“Despite a rising incidence of many cancers, far too little research has been invested into examining the pivotal role of environmental causative agents. This worldwide team of researchers refocuses our attention on this under-researched area,” he said.

Better understanding needed

The taskforce is calling for an increased emphasis on and support for research into low-dose exposure to mixtures of environmental chemicals.
 
Current research shows that chemicals can be responsible for as many as one in five cancers. With the human population routinely exposed to thousands of chemicals on a daily basis, the effects need to be better understood to reduce the incidence of cancer.

William Goodson III, a senior scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and lead author of the synthesis, said, “Since so many chemicals that are unavoidable in the environment can produce low-dose effects that are directly related to carcinogenesis, the way we’ve been testing chemicals (one at a time) is really quite out of date. Every day we are exposed to an environmental ‘chemical soup’, so we need testing that evaluates the effects of our ongoing exposure to these chemical mixtures.”
 


Carcinogenicity of perfluorooctanoic acid, tetrafluoroethylene, dichloromethane, 1,2-dichloropropane, and 1,3-propane sultone

DDT exposure in utero and breast cancer

Cancer incidence among pesticide applicators exposed to Permethrin in the Agricultural Health Study

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.