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Cancer risk in everyday products
Old 06-12-2011, 08:52 PM   #1
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Cancer risk in everyday products

It appears that the list of products causing cancer is getting longer. Now it is everyday products that are affected. What are some of the everyday products you use or used to use that claims to cause cancer and if you still use them, will you give them up? I know, they say everything in moderation but if we use a little of this and that in moderation, don't they all add up?

Well, I gave up using talcom powder and now only talc-free powder. Don't know why it is more expensive. Coffee is now listed as cancer causing but I can't give that up - so limiting intake of no more than 2 cups a day. Not an everyday product but a monthly product - I can't give dyeing my hair once a month. I am told that hair colorants are cancer causing - any truth in that?
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Old 06-12-2011, 09:46 PM   #2
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... but if we use a little of this and that in moderation, don't they all add up?
Yes, they do add up, and lots of us get cancer, too. But it's probably just a coincidence.
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Old 06-13-2011, 07:35 PM   #3
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Now I'm confused. Seems I have been reading a steady stream of articles claiming just the opposite. Such as:

Coffee and Cancer Risk: Java Junkies Less Likely to Get Tumors, Study Says - HealthPop - CBS News

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Coffee is now listed as cancer causing b
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:15 PM   #4
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Now I'm confused. Seems I have been reading a steady stream of articles claiming just the opposite. Such as:

Coffee and Cancer Risk: Java Junkies Less Likely to Get Tumors, Study Says - HealthPop - CBS News

Amethyst
Which is interesting, because of the over 1000 chemicals identified as occurring in coffee, 19 of 28 tested are substances cited as rodent carcinogens. There are more rodent carcinogens in a single cup of coffee than potentially carcinogenic pesticide residues in the average American diet in a year, and there are still a thousand chemicals left to test in roasted coffee. This does not mean that coffee is dangerous but rather that animal cancer tests and worst-case risk assessment, build in enormous safety factors and should not be considered true risks. [1]

That, or everything gives lab rats cancer...

Me? I believe I'll have another espresso.




1. Ames BN, Gold LS (1998). "The causes and prevention of cancer: the role of environment". Biotherapy 11 (23): 20520. doi:10.1023/A:1007971204469. PMID 9677052
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Old 06-13-2011, 08:26 PM   #5
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Me? I believe I'll have another espresso.
Especially if it still fends off Alzheimer's...
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:21 PM   #6
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I am inclined to think that the body reacts differently - for some more exposure to toxins can help can build up tolerance to cancer causing products - something like mutation but then again I may be watching too many X-men movies.
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:58 PM   #7
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Seems like every real old person I know drinks coffee and being doing it there whole life, so hopefully the cancer concern is not true. I'm hoping coffee is good for the prostrate like they say it is. Mine should be very healthy then considering how much I drink!
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:01 PM   #8
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I'm hoping coffee is good for the prostrate like they say it is.
Yep. The caffeine alone should have them up and around in no time!
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:04 AM   #9
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Not an everyday product but a monthly product - I can't give dyeing my hair once a month. I am told that hair colorants are cancer causing - any truth in that?
I believe that most of the research on that is talking about it being cancer causing for hairdressers, not so much for customers. I also read that most of the risk is in dark, permanent hair color.

I'm not currently coloring my hair but when I start coloring it again I plan to use natural henna. I found the below site interesting and learned that there are henna choices in many colors:

Henna for Hair
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:53 AM   #10
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Cancer is first and foremost a disease of age. The best way to avoid cancer is to die young, from something else.

To a first approximation, the chances of getting cancer from normal consumption of any specific consumer product other than tobacco are sufficiently small as to be negligeable.

The number of media articles claiming that X or Y causes cancer, however, can be show empirically to grow without limit.

"Doc, if I eat only spinach and no-sugar granola, will I live longer?"
"Probably not, but it will certainly feel like it."
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:09 AM   #11
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I am hoping to ER before my supply of no-longer-made, non-peroxide hair color runs out. Henna-ing looks like it takes more time than a working person can afford

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I believe that most of the research on that is talking about it being cancer causing for hairdressers, not so much for customers. I also read that most of the risk is in dark, permanent hair color.

I'm not currently coloring my hair but when I start coloring it again I plan to use natural henna. I found the below site interesting and learned that there are henna choices in many colors:

Henna for Hair
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:18 AM   #12
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Old 06-15-2011, 12:26 PM   #13
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To a first approximation, the chances of getting cancer from normal consumption of any specific consumer product other than tobacco are sufficiently small as to be negligeable.
That's not what counts. We need to know the total risk from all the products we consume, not for each product individually.
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:38 PM   #14
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Maybe we should change the title of this thread from
"Cancer risk in everyday products"
to
"Cancer risk in every product" with a disclaimer: If the product is not listed, wait another couple of years and it should be listed by then..
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Old 06-15-2011, 05:51 PM   #15
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That's not what counts. We need to know the total risk from all the products we consume, not for each product individually.

1.0

That's the total risk of eventual death including all possible causes over the lifetime of one individual.

There is risk, and then there is the understanding of risk.
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Old 06-15-2011, 06:03 PM   #16
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1.0

That's the total risk of eventual death including all possible causes over the lifetime of one individual.
Given the thread topic, I don't see how to make sense of that. Or even ignoring the thread topic, for that matter. All cancer death is caused by consumption of products?
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Old 06-15-2011, 07:50 PM   #17
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[QUOTE=BigNick;1079866]Cancer is first and foremost a disease of age. The best way to avoid cancer is to die young, from something else.
/QUOTE]

Not sure I can agree to that. I have a cousin who died before 40 of cancer. My sister had cancer at the age of 39. Probably safe to say that theirs are not too much due to everyday products and more of genetic influence. However, I have friends who don't have family members with cancer and yet are diagnosed of cancer and they age between late thirties to mid forties. They themselves wonder how they got cancer. Most diseases including cancer are non-discrimatory - they attack young and old alike.
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Old 06-16-2011, 02:12 AM   #18
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That's not what counts. We need to know the total risk from all the products we consume, not for each product individually.
No, we don't. We need to know if a particular product has a significant risk of harming us, and in what way, and decide whether we are prepared to forego using that product as a result.

The only point of knowing the total risk of all the products which we consume - to the extent that this is calculable, which it isn't - would be if we were seriously considering choosing between "Western consumer lifestyle" and "living in a yurt in Mongolia, consuming only goat's milk and fruit".

Currently, I don't believe that there is a single product on the market which causes even a remote fraction of the number of cancers which tobacco does. If it did, we would be seeing - empirically, not just in the 2nd place of decimals - significant numbers of people in the groups which consume that product, presenting with cancers. I have seen no evidence of that so far. (And: knowing one or two people with cancer is not evidence of anything.)
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Most diseases including cancer are non-discrimatory - they attack young and old alike.
That makes for a great soundbite, but it's simply not true. Most non-infectious diseases affect mostly older people for pretty much the same reason that accumulated wealth affects mostly older people, namely that time runs in one direction. There are always outliers, just as there are with investing. I know this guy who made a million dollars by the age of 35; does that mean that we're all going to get rich ?
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Old 06-16-2011, 10:48 AM   #19
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The only point of knowing the total risk of all the products which we consume - to the extent that this is calculable, which it isn't - would be if we were seriously considering choosing between "Western consumer lifestyle" and "living in a yurt in Mongolia, consuming only goat's milk and fruit".

I don't see the problem in calculating. It's just addition. Of course, there are measurement problems, and you'd have to approximate.

Your point about giving up the Western lifestyle seems to assume that harmful substances, if their total amount is a matter for concern, are evenly distributed among the foods we can buy, and so there is no practical way to reduce their total amount by being selective. I don't know --- is that true?
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Old 06-16-2011, 11:03 AM   #20
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I don't see the problem in calculating. It's just addition. Of course, there are measurement problems, and you'd have to approximate.
The sum of probabilities is rarely obtained by adding them. However, if they are small enough, that would be close enough, were it not for two rather larger problems:
- You have to define "everything" which you want to measure. What is the cancer risk of eating potato chips? Going to include Cheetos in that? What about pretzels? What about large, bready-pretzels? Or are they bread? What about salt-free pretzels? Oh, you don't eat salt-free pretzels. Well, maybe I do. Etc. Rinse and repeat for every one of the 45,000 items in each supermarket.
- Every probability comes with error bars. When those start to accumulate, they get in each other's way. After a surprisingly small number of samples, you have way more noise than signal.

It's a complete myth to believe that anyone can say with any meaningful degree of certainty that eating a pound of bacon, or smoking 100 cigarettes, will cause X cancers. The media wants to sell you that sort of story, and generally most people don't get exposed to scientific measurement any other way, but it's essentially arbitrary. That's precisely why they can run stories saying "<X> causes cancer, say experts" one month and "<X> prevents cancer, say other experts" a few months later. The readers tut and say, "Those scientists, eh? Why can't they make up their minds?", but it turns out that the scientists haven't changed anything; it's just that a different spin has been put on it.

Every journalist dreams of discovering the next tobacco, the next Thalidomide, or the next Watergate. They've discovered that they don't get called on the misses very often, unless they get caught actually making the story up, but if they get a hit - even a lucky one - then their reputation is made. So "possible miracle cure for cancer" stories are 10 a penny, because nobody will ever really delve into them or follow them up, but if by some chance this one in a thousand is actually on to something, well, you read it exclusively first here...

If you want to learn more about this sort of stuff works, I thoroughly recommend this book.
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