[health-vn] Study links formaldehyde to more common cancers
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Fri May 15 00:54:29 EST 2009
Study links formaldehyde to more common cancers
Avoiding controversial chemicals at the supermarket could be a daunting task,
the report says. None of the baby bath products tested in the Campaign for Safe
Cosmetics' new report list formldehyde and 1,4-dioxane on their labels, since
they're formed as manufacturuing byproducts and aren't added intentionally.
The group says consumers can look out for ingredients that are likely to contain
either of the chemicals, though, including: peg-100 stearate, sodium laureth
sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin,
imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea and sodium hydroxymethoylglycinate.
Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY
New research raises additional concerns about the harmful effects of
formaldehyde, a common chemical found in everything from plywood to nail polish,
car exhaust and cigarette smoke.
Formaldehyde has long been linked to rare tumors of the nasopharynx, which
includes the back of the throat, which affect about 2,000 Americans a year,
according to the American Cancer Society.
KIDS: Formaldehyde found in 23 of 28 tested bath products
The new study — the largest to date on workplace exposures — provides further
evidence linking formaldehyde with cancers of the blood and lymphatic system.
These cancers are far more common, affecting nearly 140,000 Americans a year.
In the study, scientists from the National Cancer Institute followed 25,000
workers for a median of 42 years, estimating the amount of formaldehyde to which
each person was exposed on the job. Among other things, scientists compared
workers' "peak" exposures to formaldehyde, or the greatest single dose they
might encounter at one time.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Louisiana | Federal Emergency Management Agency |
Elizabeth | Gulf Coast of the United States | United States National Academy of
Workers with the highest peak exposures were 37% more likely to die from any
blood or lymphatic cancer, and 78% more likely to die from myeloid leukemia — a
cancer of the white blood cells — compared to those with lowest levels,
according to the study, published online today in the Journal of the National
Highly exposed workers also were nearly four times more likely to die of Hodgkin
lymphoma, which affects immune cells, the study shows. This study is the first
to link a chemical with an increased risk of death from Hodgkin lymphoma,
according to the NCI.
The overall risk of death from these cancers was relatively low, causing only
319 of the 14,000 deaths during the study, says author Laura Beane Freeman, an
More than 2 million Americans are exposed to formaldehyde in the workplace, the
Freeman says her study doesn't allow her to estimate the risk of formaldehyde
exposure to the general public.
But the cancer society's Elizabeth Ward notes that exposure to formaldehyde,
which can seep out of wood and other products to pollute indoor air, is
Dangerously high formaldehyde levels have been found in trailers provided by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency to Gulf Coast residents displaced by
Hurricane Katrina. A March report from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, an
environmental advocacy group, also found formaldehyde in more than 80% of bath
and shampoos tested.
The Environmental Protection Agency listed formaldehyde as a "probable human
carcinogen" in 1987. In 2004, the International Agency for Research on Cancer
went further, classifying formaldehyde as a "known human carcinogen" based
partly on research suggesting a link to leukemia.
The study's authors acknowledge that they don't know the mechanism by which
formaldehyde might cause leukemia. Authors do note, though, that people exposed
to formaldehyde have higher rates of chromosome abnormalities in their
lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that fights infection.
A spokesman for the Formaldehyde Council, an industry group, noted that the
study is not considered definitive and has several limitations.
In a statement, the Formaldehyde Council said the National Academies of
Sciences, which advises the government, should launch a thorough study of the
chemical's safety. The council added that formaldehyde doesn't pose a risk to
the general public: "Knowledgeable scientists familiar with the vast research
database on formaldehyde agree that at the low levels of the chemical to which
people are normally exposed, either through internal or external sources, there is
essentially no risk."
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