We are exposed to a cocktail of fifty cancer-triggering chemicals daily: Experts

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Cancer is know to have quite a few triggers and one of the most important triggers is chemicals. Even if we ant to avoid exposure to chemicals, it isn’t possible as experts have found that as many as fifty chemicals that we come across in our day-to-day lives are effectively cancer triggers when when combined.

Now an international taskforce comprising of 174 scientists from leading research centres across 28 countries has investigated the possible link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. For the study, researchers selected 85 chemicals that have been pegged as non-carcinogenic to humans, but during the course of their research found that 50 supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures levels found in the environment today.

Though the chemicals on their own may seem harmless, a cocktail of these chemicals have shown to trigger cancer-causing mechanism. To address this longstanding concerns about the combined and additive effects of everyday chemicals Lowe Leroy from Halifax Nova Scotia put together a team of international scientists to analyse mixtures against the full spectrum of cancer biology for the first time.

One of the researchers who contributed to the study was Cancer Biologist Dr Hemad Yasaei from Brunel University London. Dr Yasaei explains that their research backs up the idea that chemicals not considered harmful by themselves are combining and accumulating in our bodies to trigger cancer and might lie behind the global cancer epidemic we are witnessing.

“We urgently need to focus more resources to research the effect of low dose exposure to mixtures of chemicals in the food we eat, air we breathe and water we drink”, Yasaei added.

Professor Andrew Ward from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, who also contributed in the area of cancer epigenetics and the environment, said that the study is unprecedented, while Professor Francis Martin from Lancaster University, who contributed to an examination of how such typical environmental exposures influence dysfunctional metabolism in cancer said that despite a rising incidence of many cancers, far too little research has been invested into examining the pivotal role of environmental causative agents.

“This worldwide team of researchers refocuses our attention on this under-researched area”, Martin added.

In light of the compelling evidence the taskforce is calling for an increased emphasis on and support for research into low dose exposures to mixtures of environmental chemicals. Current research estimates chemicals could be responsible for as many as one in five cancers. With the human population routinely exposed to thousands of chemicals, the effects need to be better understood to reduce the incidence of cancer globally.

The research has been published in a special series of Oxford University Publishing’s “Carcinogenesis” journal here.