Plastic bottles, deodorant, the microwave… These are all things we use daily and people mistakenly believe cause cancer. Here are the facts.
Over the years, we’ve heard that plastic bottles, our car’s air conditioning and microwaving plastic containers cause cancer.
But don’t believe everything you read. Research shows that these are myths. We uncovered five everyday things people think cause cancer but actually don’t.
1. Plastic bottles
The claim: In the 2000s, an email circulated that read, “Many are unaware of poisoning caused by re-using plastic bottles … bottles are safe for one-time use only; if you must keep them longer, it should be for no more than a few days, a week max, and keep them away from heat as well.” It went on to explain that plastic bottles contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called diethylhexyl adipate (DEHA).
The truth: The American Cancer Society says these emails were apparently based on a student’s thesis. They say, “DEHA is not inherent in the plastic used to make these bottles.” Even if it was, however, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, DEHA “cannot reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer; teratogenic effects; immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity; gene mutations; liver, kidney, reproductive, or developmental toxicity; or other serious or irreversible chronic health effects”. The International Agency for Research on Cancer adds that DEHA “is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans”.
Bisphenol A (or BPA) found in plastic does not pose a health risk either. Cancer Research UK says, “There is no good evidence that BPA can cause cancer in people. The European Food Safety Authority did a full scientific review and concluded there was no health risk.”
If you’re still unsure, then use a glass bottle – it’s more environmentally friendly anyway.
2. Microwaving plastic containers
The claim: An email was circulated where Dr Fujimoto from Castle Hospital warned that heating plastic in the microwave (or freezing water in plastic bottles) could release dangerous toxins, such as dioxin and DEHA. In August 2004, the email continued to do the rounds, this time with the name of an American Cancer Society staffer attached to it, which gave the hoax claim more credibility.
The truth: According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), substances that are used to make plastics can leach into foods. However, they also found that the levels expected to transfer from the plastic into foods is within the margin of safety based on the information they have. The FDA adds that it “has seen no evidence that plastic containers or films contain dioxins, and knows of no reason why they would”.
In terms of personal safety, only use containers that are labelled as microwave safe – if they are not, the plastic could melt. According to Harvard Health Publishing, most takeaway containers, water bottles, plastic tubs or jars made to hold margarine, yoghurt, cream cheese, mayonnaise and mustard are not suitable for heating in the microwave.
|Read on: 5 everyday things people think cause cancer but don’t|