Flame Retardants Found In Thousands Of Consumer Products Linked To Cancer In People For First Time

Posted on 04/02/24 | News Source: WBAL TV

Flame retardants added for decades to thousands of consumer products in the United States may raise the risk of dying from cancer, according to new research.

People with the highest levels of polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, in their blood had approximately a 300% increased risk of dying from cancer compared with people with the lowest levels, the study found.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study examining the association of PBDE exposure with risk of cause-specific mortality in the general adult population from the U.S.," the authors wrote.

The new report analyzed levels of the chemical compounds in the blood of 1,100 people between 2003 and 2004 who were participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a longitudinal federal study on the health of US citizens.

Researchers then compared PBDE levels with death certificates between 15 and 17 years later, according to the study published Monday in the journal JAMA Network Open. While the study found a significant association between PBDEs and deaths from all cancers, researchers could not determine specific types of cancers from the available data.

Past research discovered an association between flame retardants of different types and the possibility of cancer, but finding a link to cancer mortality advances the science, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a professor of pediatrics and population health at NYU Langone Health in New York City. He was not involved in the study.

"The new study links PBDEs to deaths from cancer, building a case for the association between flame retardants and cancer mortality being real," said Trasande, who researches the impact of plastics, flame retardants and other chemicals on children.

"And because these chemicals have long half-lives and therefore stay in the human body for years, this impact is going to continue because we can't get them out of the environment overnight," he said.