10 Toxic Substances to Avoid During Chemo

Undergoing Chemo Treatments?

Avoid These 10 Toxic Household Products

Oncologists often cannot explain why one person develops cancer and another does not, but research has shown certain chemicals and other substances are risk factors for cancer and other diseases. In healthy humans, the body is proficient at cleansing and detoxifying by eliminating accumulated waste products. When the body is unable to eliminate toxins fast enough to combat exposure to toxic waste, cells can begin to malfunction and grow out of control. Chemotherapy treatments can cause the body to become overloaded with toxins, causing fatigue, bloating, suppressed immunity, aching muscles, and many other negative side effects. Environmental toxins can compound these problems by exposing people to a wide array of detrimental substances.

Whether you have been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy or you are healthy but wish to lower your cancer risks, it is important to learn about potentially dangerous everyday products. Many people do not realize there are unsuspecting toxins in the home. According to environmental experts, the average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals. People expose themselves routinely to household products that have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption, and neurotoxicity. These include everything from shampoos to household cleaners.


Chemicals with Potential

Breast Cancer Risks

A study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Environmental Health Perspectives, pinpointed 17 specific chemical groups associated with mammary tumors in animals. Experts believe these chemicals present a potential heightened risk of breast cancer in humans. The worst culprits were gasoline and two chemicals formed by combustion, benzene and butadiene. People are exposed to these toxins from vehicles, lawn equipment, tobacco smoke, and charred or burned food. In addition, drinking water may contain some of these carcinogens. For example, byproducts of disinfection or solvents have been found in well water contaminants. Other mammary carcinogens included:

  • Solvents (e.g. methylene chloride)
  • Halogenated organic solvents used in spot removers
  • Specialty cleaners
  • Industrial degreasers
  • Certain flame retardants
  • A chemical used in stain-resistant textiles and nonstick coatings
  • Styrene, which is in tobacco smoke and used to make Styrofoam


List of Toxic Chemicals in Everyday Products

Bisphenol A (BPA): This chemical is found in many household products such as water and baby bottles and as epoxy resins used to coat the inside of food and drinks cans. BPA is an endocrine disruptor which interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function, and elimination of natural hormones. The chemical can imitate the body's own hormones in a way that can be hazardous to one’s health. It is best to buy BPA-free products to avoid potential health risks. BPA-free plastic food containers and water bottles are clearly marked as such.


2-butoxyethanol: This is a key ingredient in many window cleaners and is classified as a glycol ether, a powerful solvent. Law does not require 2-butoxyethanol to be listed on products. High levels of glycol ethers can contribute to narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. Cleaning at home in a confined area such as an unventilated bathroom can cause 2-butoxyethanol levels higher than workplace safety standards. Diluted vinegar works just as well as a mirror and window cleaner. DYI cleaning formulas can easily be made with baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils.


Phthalates: Many plastic containers are made from chemicals including phthalates, which act as endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Plastic degrades over time, releasing dangerous chemicals into the food we eat. Never microwave food in plastic and opt for glass containers instead. This chemical is also found in some plug-in scents, dish soaps, synthetically scented candle, and even toilet paper. Fragrance-free or all-natural organic products are better options. Baking soda and white vinegar work well as odor absorbers.


Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA): Many nonstick pans contain trace amounts of PFOA, which has been linked to cancer in laboratory animals. This material can scratch or chip off and contaminate food. Cast iron or stainless steel cookware is a healthier choice, used in combination with natural, non-stick sprays such as olive oil.


Quarternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats): This is an antibacterial found in some fabric softener liquids and sheets. Like triclosan, this can help breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria and is also a skin irritant. There is evidence healthy people exposed to quats on a regular basis may develop asthma. It is a misconception fabric softener and dryer sheets are necessary to soften clothes or get rid of static. Regular white vinegar can be used as a natural fabric softener in the wash cycle.


Triclosan: This is found in many liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled antibacterial. Recent research found no evidence these antimicrobials had any antibacterial benefits. To the contrary, they helped breed antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Some experts think triclosan may be an endocrine disruptor like BPA and is likely a carcinogen. It is best to buy simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists, and use only alcohol-based hand sanitizers.


It can be challenging to determine if household products are to blame when patients present with a wide range of symptoms. Alternative practitioners who specialize in homeopathic treatment can help resolve these issues in patients undergoing chemotherapy or in those with other health issues.


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