Do You Know Which Plastics Have The Highest Cancer Risk?
With over 1,600,000 new cases of cancer predicted for 2016 in the USA, it’s not surprising that people are getting serious about finding the culprits that increase the risk of this class of disease. Plastics have often been suggested as one of these everyday carcinogens. Frustratingly, evidence is often scarce or inconclusive. However, there are some plastic chemicals it is wise to reduce exposure to in order to minimize health risk.
At the bottom of the bottle, you will find a triangle with a number, which can be anywhere from one to seven. With the symbol you see, you can learn which type of plastic you have in your hand and just how safe – how unsafe – it might be.
Number 1: Known as PET or PETE, the bottle with this number means that it should only be used once. This is because reusing them can expose people to a chemical substance called EPA. The plastic could also possibly emit antimony, which is a heavy metal that can interfere with the hormones in the body. It is also possible that the plastic is carcinogenic.
Number 2: If you find a triangle with the number “2” in it, the bottle is known as HDPE or HDP, which is considered the good plastic. It is named so because it doesn’t have as much emission as the other types of chemicals used in the other bottles when in contact with water.
Number 3: Also labeled as V or PVC, the number 3 in the bottle means that it has two toxic chemicals that can both influence the hormones in the body. Still, PVC is the most used type of plastic around and contains phthalates, including often the carcinogenic phthalate DEHP (see below).
Number 4: LDPE plastics have the number 4, which means they don’t emit chemicals when used in water bottles. However, most of them are actually present in plastic bags.
Number 5: PP or number 5 plastics are also good types of plastics. They are recognizable because of their white color. Sometimes, they are transparent. PP plastics are common in cups of yogurt and syrup bottles.
Number 6: Although this emits STIREN, which is carcinogenic, this plastic is used in fast food packaging as well as in coffee cups.
Number 7: Finally, plastics with no labels are in this category where they are known as PC. You should not trust plastics without labels because they often emit BPA, which is a very harmful chemical. Unfortunately, PC plastics are common in containers for food, sports drink bottles, and worse, infant bottles.
Plastics Implicated As Carcinogens
There are some compounds found in many plastics that are thought to contribute towards risk of cancer. Evidence tends to be limited, as studying the effects of these in humans has some obvious ethical barriers.
The three most supported compounds are: