Yoga Pants That Cause Cancer?
- While yoga pants may be see-through in some cases, there is no evidence that they “cause cancer.” However, new consumer activist blog Mamavation testing found the presence of some carcinogenic chemicals in pants by popular brands such as Lululemon and Athleta. There is no research that links these chemicals (allegedly) in the yoga pants to actual cases of cancer in the wearers.
- According to Mamavation’s testing, the popular brands of yoga pants contain high levels of PFAS, a chemical linked to causing cancer. Mamavation says medical professionals have peer-reviewed their work.
- The EPA acknowledges they do not fully understand how much people are exposed to PFAS and how harmful PFAS are to people and the environment.
In seeking to answer this question (if you ever can) it is important to acknowledge how crucial it is to be able to decipher what is valid health information on the internet, and what is not.Read More
The tests only determined the presence of the chemicals. They did not assess if there’s any causal relationship between the chemical in the pants and the health of the wearer of the pants.
This is not the first time chemicals linked to cancer have appeared in clothing. In fact, reliable sources have repeatedly linked PFAS to causing cancer, especially kidney and testicular cancer. However, it should be noted that Mamavation’s testing on yoga pants has not been replicated in a formal study. (Mamavation did have some well-qualified researchers review its testing.)
Yoga Pants That Cause Cancer?
Mamavation ranked 32 pairs of yoga pants and leggings based on the levels of PFAS, also known as the “forever chemical,” present in the piece of clothing. The clothing was sent to an EPA-certified lab to test for organic fluorine, which is an indicator of PFAS.
The blog’s author, eco-influencer and social media strategist Leah Segedie, writes that her blog is also naming those brands, which include household names such as LulaRoe, Athleta and Lululemon.
Each pair of yoga pants and leggings were tested for organic fluorine in the crotch area, which the site claims is the “most common” area to detect organic fluorine. Here are the lab results Mamavation is reporting:
- Inside the crotch of LulaRoe leggings, organic fluorine was found at 284 parts per million (ppm)
- Of all the yoga pants and leggings sent to the lab, 25% came back with detectable levels of organic fluorine, while 75% did not contain any detectable levels
- “Detectable levels” of organic fluorine that the lab found ranged from 10 parts per million (ppm) to 284 parts per million (ppm)
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS are “widely used, long lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time.” Since their use is so widespread, in addition to their persistence in the environment, “many PFAS are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and are present at low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.”
However, it should be noted that the EPA acknowledges they do not fully understand how much people are exposed to PFAS and how harmful PFAS are to people and the environment.
We are exposed to carcinogens, or substances that can cause cancer, every day. But many people will not go on to 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, tells SurvivorNet. “But some people have susceptibilities to these environmental carcinogens, which might be genetic or might be caused by combinations of carcinogens.”
He adds that it is important to understand that no one trigger is going to definitively cause cancer. But it could be a combination of triggers in the environment.
“Cancer isn’t caused by one event, typically, it’s usually a series or combination of events,” he says. “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.”
How to Understand What is Valid Health Information Online
Patients who rely on unproven methods outside of the conventional medical realm often end up with fatal consequences; a study released by researchers at Yale University in 2017 revealed that patients with cancer who only use alternative treatments are twice as likely to die from the disease.
It should also be noted that more than eight in 10 United States adults (or 86%) say they get their news from a smartphone, computer or tablet “often” or “sometimes,” according to a study published by the Pew Research Center last year. In addition, about two-thirds of adults in the U.S. say they get their news “at least sometimes from news websites or apps (68%) or search engines, like Google (65%).”
But what rings alarm bells for some is the study found that about half of U.S. adults (53%) say they get their news from social media. This is unnerving for most in the news business as social media sites and blogs do not have full-time policing policies for content; some social platforms have started to include “misinformation” tags if something posted on its site is false, but the problem still persists. This rings true for blogs as well, as their information is not vetted (like this yoga pants example).
So, how can you know whether the information you read online, especially medical information, is reliable? There are a few ways:
The National Institutes of Health recommends that knowing who or what sponsors and hosts the website you are reading from is important.
- .gov are government agencies
- .edu identifies an educational institution
- .org usually identifies nonprofit organizations
- .com identifies commercial websites
Who wrote the information? Who reviewed it? When was the information written? What is the purpose of this website? These are all important questions to ask yourself when seeking out reliable medical information online; and most of the time, social media and blogs are not the right places to look.
Contributing: Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore