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Clean with microfiber cloths to reduce your reliance on cleaning products that contain harmful chemicals. Made of polyester and polyamide, these reusable wipes lift dirt, grease, and dust. They are machine washable and can last several years.

Let your Congressional representative know you support the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics offers an easy way to contact your representative about the act.

The study results were unmistakable, though the reasons for them were less so: In one Silent Spring Institute study, women who reported the highest cleaning product use had twice the breast cancer risk as those who said they used the products sparingly.

In telephone interviews with more than 1,500 women, just over half of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Institute researchers asked women about their product use, beliefs about breast cancer causes, and established and suspected risk factors. Notably, women with breast cancer who believed that chemicals and pollutants contribute “a lot” to the risk of developing the disease were more likely to report high product usage.

“When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, they often think about what might have triggered their disease,” says Julia Brody, PhD, executive director of the Institute. “As a result, they may more accurately recall their past product use or even overestimate it. Or, their personal experience with breast cancer may have influenced their beliefs about its causes. Most women with breast cancer are the first in their family to get the disease, for example, so they’re less likely to believe heredity plays a major role.”

The researchers recommend further study into possible associations between cleaning products and breast cancer in studies that don’t rely on women remembering what products they used years ago. In the meantime, many women may want to exercise caution, by finding less toxic alternatives to conventional cleaners and supporting policies to test chemicals before they go into products.

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