New Carcinogens Named

Health officials add eight substances to list of known carcinogens

(RxWiki News) Health officials named eight new substances that are thought to be carcinogens.

Carcinogens are substances that can cause cancer. With the addition of these eight new substances, US health officials now list 256 total carcinogens in a cumulative report called the Report on Carcinogens.

“Cancer affects almost everyone’s life, either directly or indirectly,” said Dr. Rick Woychik, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program, in a press release. “As the identification of carcinogens is a key step in cancer prevention, publication of the report represents an important government activity towards improving public health.”

The newly discovered carcinogens included a type of chronic infection, flame retardant chemicals and byproducts of water disinfection.

Chronic Bacterial Infection

Health officials said chronic infection with H. pylori bacteria is linked with a higher risk of cancer. Most people who are infected with this bacteria show no symptoms. The bacteria gathers in the stomach and is passed from person to person, usually in crowded conditions, and possibly from drinking contaminated well water.

This type of bacteria may be linked to stomach cancer and a rare type of stomach lymphoma, officials said in a press release.

Flame Retardant

Many consumer products, including those made with plastics and textiles, contain chemicals meant to make them resistant to fire damage. One of those chemicals, antimony trioxide, has now been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Those most at risk include people who work with the chemical when producing or applying flame retardants during manufacturing. However, others may be exposed through contact with various consumer products. Many state agencies already regulate the use of flame retardant chemicals.

Water Disinfection Byproducts

Six of the eight new carcinogens added to the list fell into the category of water disinfection byproducts. They are all haloacetic acids that can form when water is disinfected with chlorine.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) noted that municipal water treatment centers monitor for some of these substances. However, the NIH estimated that around 250 million US residents could be exposed to these carcinogens through their community water systems.

The new carcinogenic substances are as follows:

  • Bromochloroacetic acid (BCA)
  • Bromodichloroacetic acid (BDCA)
  • Chlorodibromoacetic acid (CDBA)
  • Dibromoacetic acid (DBA)
  • Dichloroacetic acid (DCA)
  • Tribromoacetic acid (TBA)

The NIH also noted that improvements in water filtration may reduce exposure to these chemicals.

If you are concerned about your cancer risk, speak with your health care provider.

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Review Date: 
January 12, 2022