Can Plastic Lead to Cancer? Facts and Myths


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Can Plastic Lead to Cancer? Facts and Myths

Plastic kills. This is believed to be a fact without any second doubts.  So what is the truth about plastic and what are the myths surrounding it? Here are all facts that you need proved through research and approved by various health science associations of the world.

Plastic Causes Cancer

This idea spread through an email, one that stated that celebrity Sheryl Crowe got her cancer through the water she drank out of a water bottle left in her sun soaked car. This happened in 2009 and even after the passing of almost a decade, the belief is going strong.

This piece of gossip was wrongly associated to Johns Hopkins University, which stated that if plastic containers and water bottles were used, they would lead to absorption of a chemical known as dioxins in the food items. This in turn would lead to conditions like liver damage, developmental and liver issues as well as cancer. It was also said in the email that DEHA or diethylhexyl adipate which was said to be a constituent of plastic bottles also gives rise to cancer.

All of the information mentioned above is false. Yes there are a variety of plastics that are very harmful for the human body and may give rise to cancer, but these are not the ones that are used in the production of food containers and water bottles. And even if DEHA was used, there is no concrete evidence which states that it gives way to cancer or any other medical condition. These are the findings of US Environmental Protection Agency.

As for dioxins, did you know that fish and other small animals contain more dioxins in their bodies than plastic containers ever could? Sad, but true. Dioxins are chemicals released by the burning of waste products of hospitals, which are then dumped into the environment like ponds and lakes. This means that your chances of getting cancer is higher if you consume fish rather than food from a plastic container.

So why all the fuss about plastics and cancer? Here is the reason.

Phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA)

These are the two names that scare many people. Both of these chemicals are used in the production of food packaging plastics. The evidence that they leach into foods and drinks is there but there is still no concrete research that shows evidence of them causing cancer.

Phthalates are believed to act like hormones and interfere with the reproductive system and development. But these are certain kinds of phthalates. This is the reason why the European Union banned used of six phthalates in construction of toys. US also banned the use of DEHP (a kind of phthalates) in cosmetics and children’s products. It is viewed as possibly carcinogenic though evidence is not yet definitive.

Bisphenol A or BPA has been proven time and again to not cause any health risk to persons of any age group be it an unborn baby or an elderly. This has been agreed upon by FDA and European Food Safety Authority. Only and only if the quantity of BPA is very high would it cause any harm. Since people showed concern, the product has been banned in the use of baby products and infant formula packaging.

Yet the US Report on Carcinogens clearly states that BPA is not a hazard for humans as only a very tiny quantity leaches out of plastic. International Agency of Research on Cancer has also stated that BPA cannot be classified as carcinogenic.

The evidence is clear. No matter what the people are willing to believe, BPA or phthalates are not harmful when used in plastic containers and bottles. They pose no harm of cancer originating among humans or animals. All food and research authorities unanimously agree that plastic does not give rise to cancer causing cells and is safe when either heated or cooled.

Better Safe than Sorry

Yes there is no concrete evidence that plastic causes cancer, and the few studies that do show some correlation do not point to the low doses that do leach out of plastic containers. Studies have made it clear, according to government agencies that plastic does not harm a human body so long as it is used with care.

The only far there is plastic usage is that of contamination. If you do use plastic containers, which you must as they are pretty much everywhere, be sure that they are harm free, can be used in microwave and have been washed with warm soapy water for re-usage. Avoid all the plastics that foreign agencies have banned like the ones done in European countries and ensure the ones that you do use are BPA free.

An even better option, other than plastics include the following;  Use glass or metallic utensils around the house. Avoid heating food in the microwave in plastic containers. Since cooling lowers the possibility of any chemicals leaching from plastic, freezing food in plastic containers is risk free. It is always best to be cautious and avoid items that you feel can be danger to your health and that of your loved ones.

One more thing that needs to be incorporated in life is checking facts and where they come from. If the source is unreliable and only spread to create mass frenzy, it is best to set it aside and continue on with happy living. Facts are needed before myths can be turned into reality. Before asking the question, “does this cause cancer”, look at who is providing the  information  and the science behind its explanation. Gather information from reliable sources and then spread it about.

To conclude, there is no clear evidence of the concept that plastic causes cancer. If you feel it is dangerous, then avoid any kind of overexposure. Stay safe and healthy!


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