Forever Cancer & The Possible Link to Cancer
- According to the newly published study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, women with prior cancer diagnoses of ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or melanoma were found to have had significantly higher levels of “forever chemicals,” in addition to other toxic compounds in their blood.
- According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS are “widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time” that “are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe.”
- New research, published this week, looked into the possible connections between hormone-related cancers and the three types of potential endocrine disruptors, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), phenols and parabens.
- The National Cancer Institute states that a whopping 93% of all human cancers are non-hereditary, meaning they are caused by “interaction with environmental factors.” The lifestyle factors are listed to include “cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity.”
- To be clear, more data is needed to provide direct and incontrovertible, causal, links between environmental chemicals and cancer. Responsible cancer doctors are always very quick to point out the need for studies to be independently reviewed by others in the field and be reproducible and confirmable in order to determine a casual link.
To be clear, more data is needed to provide direct causal, links between environmental chemicals and cancer. Responsible cancer doctors are always very quick to point out the need for studies to be independently reviewed by others in the field and be reproducible and confirmable.Read More
According to their newly published study in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, women with prior cancer diagnoses of ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, or melanoma were found to have had significantly higher levels of “forever chemicals,” in addition to other toxic compounds in their blood.
Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of Michigan conducted the study to help the future of research and regulations connected to environmental health.
With funding by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the researchers were able to conduct a study among approximately 10,000 adults between 2005 and 2018, all who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the Keck School of Medicine explains.
The researchers explained in their study’s impact statement that the “biomarkers across all exposure categories (phenols, parabens, and per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances) were cross-sectionally associated with increased odds of previous melanoma diagnoses in women, and increased odds of previous ovarian cancer was associated with several phenols and parabens.”
More Resources On Environmental Toxins
- Are the Toxins in Our Environment Making Us Sick?
- Recall of Ventilators, CPAP Machines Over Potential Cancer-Causing Toxins Raises More Questions Than Answers; What You Need to Know
- Waterproof Mascaras, Long-Lasting Lipsticks Contain Cancer-Linked Toxins, Research Finds; What You Need to Know About Your Risk
- ‘Dark Waters’ Won’t Take Home Any Oscars — But the Story About Toxic Chemicals in Our Environment is Part of an Important Conversation
- Cancer-Causing Chemical Found in Banana Boat Sunscreen Leads to Recall; How to Select the Right Sunscreen for Your Skin
- FDA Recalls Old Spice & Secret Deodorants Due To High Levels Of Cancer-Causing Chemical; What is Benzene and How Does it Affect Your Health?
- Lies, Cover-Ups and Government Conspiracies: ‘The People Vs. Agent Orange’ Chronicles the Fight Against the Use of Cancer-Causing Chemicals
“Some associations differed by racial group, which is particularly impactful given the established racial disparities in distributions of exposure to these chemicals,” the statement continued.
“This is the first epidemiological study to investigate exposure to phenols in relation to previous cancer diagnoses, and the first NHANES study to explore racial/ethnic disparities in associations between environmental phenol, paraben, and PFAS exposures and historical cancer diagnosis.”
The study’s senior suthor, Max Aung, PhD, who is also an assistant professor of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine, also stated: “These findings show that PFAS and phenols are potential environmental risk factors for cancer risk in women.
“Our study can be used to help prioritize which chemicals to investigate and mitigate exposure to as we continue working to reduce cancer risk.”
Research scientist and first author of the study, Amber Cathey, PhD, MPH, also state, “These PFAS and phenol chemicals appear to disrupt hormone function in women, which is one potential mechanism that increases the odds of hormone-related cancers in women.”
This study appears to align with the worries Drescher has in regard to toxins and their connection to cancer.
Additionally, back in 2017, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) “classified perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), the most well-studied per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS), as a possible human carcinogen based in part on limited epidemiologic evidence of associations with cancers of the kidney and testis in heavily exposed subjects,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
Meanwhile, the CDC’s tracking network has obtained data for eighteen types of cancer that are “potentially linked with suspected environmental risk factors.”
And the National Cancer Institute states that a whopping 93% of all human cancers are non-hereditary, meaning they are caused by “interaction with environmental factors.” The lifestyle factors include “cigarette smoking, diet (fried foods, red meat), alcohol, sun exposure, environmental pollutants, infections, stress, obesity, and physical inactivity.”
What Are PFAS?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS are “widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time” that “are found in water, air, fish, and soil at locations across the nation and the globe.”
Given their widespread use and persistence in the environment, there are many PFAS in the blood of people and animals everywhere. This also means that they are present at low levels in a variety of food products as well as in the environment.
With thousands of PFAS chemicals and their prevalence in a variety of different places, the EPA acknowledges that there is still a lot more to learn. And that includes learning about their impact on human health and environmental risks.
As far as the PFAS connection to cancer, the EPA says current peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that exposure to certain levels of PFAs may lead to an “increased risk of some cancers, including prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers.”
It’s important to know, however, that our experts say we are exposed to carcinogens substances that can cause cancer every day. Even still, many people will never develop the disease.
“We create carcinogens all the time in our foods when we cook them, and very few of us get cancer because our bodies can handle them,” Dr. Robert Wright, chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at Mount Sinai, previously told SurvivorNet. “But some people have susceptibilities to these environmental carcinogens, which might be genetic or might be caused by combinations of carcinogens.”
Dr. Wright also said no one trigger is usually going to cause cancer, but cancer could be the result of a combination of environmental triggers.
“Cancer isn’t caused by one event, typically, it’s usually a series or combination of events,” he explained. “So, it may be that you ate a lot of charred food, it may be that you’re also a smoker, it may be that you’ve inherited a genetic susceptibility to be a little bit more sensitive to those chemicals.”
Potential Health Effects of PFAS
According to the CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a significant number of studies have been down looking into PFAS in blood and their possibly harmful effects in people.
The CDC explains, “However, not all of these studies involved the same groups of people, the same type of exposure, or the same PFAS. These different studies therefore reported a variety of health outcomes.”
Research on people have suggested that high levels of specific types of PFAS could possibly lead to:
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Decreased vaccine response in children
- Changes in liver enzymes
- Increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
- Small decreases in infant birth weights
- Increased risk of kidney or testicular cancer
“At this time, scientists are still learning about the health effects of exposures to mixtures of different PFAS,” the CDC advises.
As per the CDC, exposure to PFAS could be from:
- Drinking contaminated municipal water
- Eating fish caught from water contaminated by PFAS
- Accidentally swallowing contaminated soil or dust
- Eating food grown or raised near places that used or made PFAS
- Eating food packaged in material that contains PFAS
- Using some consumer products like water repellent clothing
Fran Drescher’s Cancer Journey
Fran Drescher was diagnosed with uterine cancer in June 2000. Her diagnosis followed two years of experiencing uterine cancer symptoms and misdiagnoses from eight doctors, but she eventually got a correct diagnosis.
Drescher told SurvivorNet in a previous interview how the experience led her to feel scared and betrayed by her own body, as well as the medical community. However, she’s used the experience to try to help guide others through a cancer diagnosis.
She’s spoken publicly about her cancer battle and encourages others to always seek second opinions if they’re unsure about a treatment path.
“If you are a cancer patient or was just diagnosed with cancer, you may, undoubtedly, be very frightened. I know that I was,” Drescher told SurvivorNet in an exclusive interview.
“Some of the recommendations that I can make for you immediately is to open your world up to people, start looking at your lifestyle, become educated so that you can see what all of your options are,” she explained.
“Because the best decision you make is an informed decision and to start increasing mind, body, and spirit balance as much as you can.”
During our interview with Drescher, we asked Dr. Heather Yeo, an oncologist and colorectal surgeon at Weill-Cornell, to give her opinion about environmental factors and cancer risk.
“I think that there are so many environmental factors,” Dr. Yeo said in her conversation with Drescher. “And unfortunately, I think some of it is really confusing for patients and individuals. It’s often difficult to study environmental causes of cancer. Much of it is done in labs in mice, trying to look at exposing mice to different toxins.”
Understanding Uterine Cancer
Uterine cancer, also called endometrial cancer, develops in the lining of a woman’s uterus. The uterus, or womb, is a pear-shaped organ where a fetus can develop and grow.
More than 90% of uterine cancers occur in the endometrium (the layer of tissue that lines the uterus), making them endometrial cancer. Uterine sarcoma, on the other hand, is very rare and develops in the myometrium, the muscle wall of your uterus.
Some people may be predisposed to uterine cancer. Dr. Diana English, a gynecologic oncologist at Stanford Medicine, says in a previous interview, Uterine cancer and endometrial cancer are synonymous. It’s a cancer that’s coming from the lining of the uterus. That’s what endometrial cancer is.”
“I think one of the challenges with uterine cancer is that it can also happen in younger patients that have certain conditions that might predispose them to cancer,” she says. “These patients might not be thinking about this, their primary care providers may not be speaking to them about this.”
Dr. English noted the risk factors for this disease as well. “Some of the common risk factors for uterine cancer include hypertension, diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is a syndrome that’s marked by anovulation or the absence of regular periods, which tends to happen in premenopausal patients.”
“And some of these patients are obese, some of these patients have signs and symptoms of hyperandrogenism or elevated male sex hormones, and Lynch Syndrome,” she continues. “The one good thing about uterine cancer, if there can be a good thing about any cancer, is that there’s usually an early warning system, which is abnormal bleeding.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff