A study involving 174 scientists from leading research centers across 28 countries studied the link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. The scientists investigated 85 chemicals that were not considered carcinogenic to humans and found that 50 chemicals were involved in the metabolic pathway that regulates cancer at levels found in the common environment. Prior research and statistics have specified that cancer causing chemicals could be responsible for as many as one in five cancers.
Leading researchers have specified that chemicals are accumulating and combining in unknown ways and may contribute to significant human exposure to cancer causing chemicals, influencing a dysfunctional metabolism leading to cancer.
“This 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,” said Cancer Biologist Dr Hemad Yasaei from Brunel University London.
“A review on this scale, looking at environmental chemicals from the perspective of all the major hallmarks of cancer, is unprecedented,” said Professor Andrew Ward from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath.
The researchers recommend 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.
W. H. Goodson, L. Lowe, et al. Assessing the carcinogenic potential of low-dose exposures to chemical mixtures in the environment: the challenge ahead. Carcinogenesis, 2015; 36 (Suppl 1): S254 DOI: 10.1093/carcin/bgv039