Workers in the automotive plastics industry were discovered to have a higher rate of breast cancer, almost five times that of other women.
Are these factory workers’ health problems the warning that will wake up our society to the dangers of plastic chemicals?
Nation of Change reports:
The six-year study, published Monday in the journal Environmental Health, examined the occupational histories of 1,006 women in Essex and Kent counties who had breast cancer, and another 1,146 who did not.
The researchers, who came from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., took into account factors like smoking, weight, alcohol use and other lifestyle and reproductive factors. The women in the study worked in auto parts plants, casinos, food canning factories, on farms, and in metalworking plants.
The researchers found that women who work in the automotive plastics industry were almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in a control group.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals in plastics are most likely to blame, even with miniscule exposure with good work place standards.
The Breast Cancer Fund further explains:
A study released yesterday found a staggering fivefold increase in pre-menopausal breast cancer among women who worked in factories that make canned food or plastic auto parts.
The study followed 1,000 women with breast cancer and a control group without the disease from Windsor, Ontario, a manufacturing-rich area that, among other pursuits, supplies parts to the nearby U.S. auto industry.
Women who worked for 10 years in jobs classified as highly exposed to cancer-causing substances and endocrine-disrupting chemicals had elevated breast cancer risk. Among the highest-risk sectors, food canning workers may be exposed to BPA in the can linings as well as pesticides from the food; automotive plastics workers may be exposed to phthalates, vinyl chloride, formaldehyde, styrene and flame retardants.
These women are canaries in the coal mine. While their exposure levels may be higher, we are all exposed to a cocktail of carcinogens and endocrine disruptors every day that puts us at greater risk for breast cancer.
Women should not have to face a breast cancer diagnosis because of the work they do. And none of us should have to face cancer because industry and government failed to protect us.
I feel guilt for contributing to these women’s health problems through my purchases. Plastics in cars are unavoidable; however, canned food is escapable. Plastics are not going away, but we need to find a way to make them safer for both workers and consumers.
Image: Breast cancer cell on Bigstock