There is a substance that is likely in your shoes, your floor tiles, luggage, food containers, carpeting, and more.
You come into contact with it virtually every day.
It’s almost impossible to avoid…and new research shows it causes cancer.
It’s called styrene. For years, scientists have suspected this chemical could be carcinogenic. Now, a study has all but confirmed it.1
The news is even more alarming when you consider that nearly half of us have measurable levels of styrene in our bodies.2
The study was performed by a group appointed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), under the auspices of the World Health Organization. They have upgraded styrene from “possibly carcinogenic” to “probably carcinogenic.”
Styrene has been a concern of cancer researchers since the 1970s. That’s when an unusual number of workers in the U.S. synthetic rubber industry started getting leukemia. Styrene is a major component of synthetic rubber.
For the new study, 23 experts from around the world looked at cancer risk based on the latest research on styrene exposure in humans and animals.
Professor Henrik Kolstad is with the Department of Clinical Medicine at Denmark’s Aarhus University. He was one of the study authors. He points out that cases of a once-rare form of leukemia more than doubled when people came into contact with styrene.
“Out of the more than 70,000 people included in the research project, we found 25 cases of acute myeloid leukemia, where you would statistically expect to find 10,” he said.
The researchers also found there is a 500% increase in nasal cancer among people regularly exposed to styrene.
People who work in jobs that bring them into contact with styrene have reported other health issues. They include fatigue, trouble concentrating, and balance problems.3
4 Ways to Minimize Your Styrene Exposure
Unless you live on a secluded island away from all contact with the modern world, you can’t entirely avoid styrene. But you can take steps to minimize your exposure:
- Avoid food that comes in foam containers. Instant soups and ramen noodles meant for microwave heating are common culprits.
- Buy disposable cups and plates in paper form rather than foam.
- Avoid cigarette smoke. It contains styrene.
- Stay away from the copier while it’s in use. Photocopiers give off styrene fumes. If you work in an office or have a copier at home, try to avoid being near it while it’s in use. If you must sit near one, make sure the area is well ventilated.
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