6 hidden carcinogens to purge from your home

You do everything you can to stay healthy. You eat well, exercise and take your vitamins…

But did you know ordinary items lying around your house could be sabotaging your efforts? Some of these items contain carcinogens that cause your cells to divide faster, damage your DNA or trigger other processes in your body that can eventually lead to cancer.

That means you’ll want to scratch them off your shopping list sooner rather than later… and get rid of whatever’s already hiding in your house. But first you need to know which unassuming items in your home are really carcinogens in disguise …

  1. Scented candles and air fresheners. Cheap air fresheners and scented candles might make your house smell nice, but they’re not very nice to your body. Did you know that most scented candles release cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and toluene when burned? That’s because they contain paraffin, which is made from petroleum waste. And if that weren’t bad enough, the wicks of some scented candles contain lead.

Your plug-in air freshener or air freshener spray aren’t much better. They’re filled with phthalates, which have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, along with a few other diseases like asthma, type II diabetes and ADHD.

If you want your house to smell fresh and clean without the risk of cancer, try beeswax candles with cotton wicks. You could also invest in an essential oil diffuser and an assortment of your favorite oils. That way you can enjoy the pleasant benefits of aromatherapy. And then, of course, there’s always incense.

  1. Dry-cleaned clothes. The clothes hanging in your closet could be a major source of carcinogens in your home… especially if you have them dry-cleaned. Having your clothes dry cleaned is terrible for your health because conventional dry cleaners use a cancer-causing chemical called perchlorethylene (PERC) to clean your clothes. Long-term exposure to PERC has been shown to cause leukemia and cancer of the skin, colon, lung, larynx, bladder, and urogenital tract. Now, you don’t have to get rid of your dry-clean only clothes. Just stop taking them to a conventional dry cleaner. Instead, take them to an organic dry cleaner who uses safer cleaning methods. One of the most popular organic cleaning methods is CO2 cleaning, which uses pressurized liquid carbon dioxide to clean your clothes.
  2. Nail polish. If you’ve ever gotten a whiff of nail polish, you know it must contain some chemical or another. That overwhelming smell actually comes from several chemicals. Nail polish contains formaldehyde, acetone, toluene and dibutyl phthalate. And these chemicals are leeching into women’s bodies. In a 2015 study, researchers detected nail polish chemicals in women’s bodies 10 to 14 hours after they painted their nails.

And nail polish isn’t the only beauty product that contains dangerous chemicals. They could be hiding in your makeup, lotion, shampoo, after-shave and pretty much every other product you use to enhance your natural beauty. So while you’re cleaning out your old bottles of chemical-filled polish, read the labels on your other beauty products too. Just like with food, the simpler the ingredients, the better. Consider natural choices like bentonite clay and non-talcum options. And here’s a link to a database created by the environmental advocacy nonprofit the Environmental Working Group where you can search for safer beauty products.

  1. Art supplies. Did you know that permanent and dry-erase markers contain carcinogens? So do acrylic paints, rubber cement and other types of glue. Markers, for example, contain the chemical xylene, which comes from petroleum and coal tar. Xylene is a powerful neurotoxin that can make you dizzy, cause headaches and has been shown to have at least a preliminary connection to cancer in humans. And don’t get me started on rubber cement. That contains several carcinogens, including acetone and heptane. Markers, glues and other cancer-causing craft items might be hiding in your desk drawer as we speak. But you should know, there are safer alternatives. Look for non-toxic water-based markers and water-based glue instead.
  2. Shower curtains. Most shower curtains are made from the notorious poly vinyl chloride (PVC). According to the EPA, PVC shower curtains emit toxic chemicals into the air, including dioxins, phthalates, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, lead, cadmium and organotins. That explains why PVC is considered the most toxic type of plastic. And why it has been linked to cancer. You may have other items lying around the house that are made from PVC, like purses, couches and even your flooring. But don’t worry. It’s easy to find PVC-free alternatives for all of these items. Just make sure you read the labels on everything you buy and do your research before buying new furniture or flooring. That way you’re not unwittingly filling your home with PVC.
  3. Cleaning products. Ironically, the items you’re using to clean your home could be the biggest source of cancer-causing pollutants. Unless you’re going out of your way to buy or make natural cleaners, your dish soap may contain phthalates, your carpet and upholstery cleaners probably contain perchlorethylene (PERC), your hand soap probably contains triclosan, your dryer sheets probably contain quarternary ammonium compounds and your multipurpose or window cleaners probably contain 2-butoxyethanol. All of these have been linked to health problems of some kind or another, including cancer. So what’s the best way to keep your house clean without sacrificing your health? There are a lot of non-toxic cleaners on the market nowadays. Or you can turn to a time-tested natural cleaner that you probably have on-hand right now… vinegar.

Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!


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  13. “How to Clean Your Home with Vinegar.” Good Girl Gone Green. http://www.goodgirlgonegreen.com. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.