can clothes cause cancer

can clothes cause cancer

Can Clothes Cause Cancer?

The short answer is no, clothing can not directly cause cancer. However, the materials used to make certain clothing items can contain dangerous compounds, chemicals, and treatments that can be harmful to your health. Before purchasing clothes, it’s important to be aware of the materials used and the potential health risks associated with them.

Potential Health Hazardous Materials Commonly Found in Clothes

  • Flame Retardants: Flame retardants are used to meet legal safety regulations of specific products, and are often found in fabric made for children’s clothing, mattresses, furniture, and even rugs. These chemicals have been linked to serious health conditions, including cancer.
  • Formaldehyde: Found in wrinkle-resistant and flame-resistant fabrics, formaldehyde is a preservative and is used to help prevent bacteria from growing on clothing. It may also be used to finish fabrics for wrinkle-free clothing. Formaldehyde has been associated with an increased risk of cancer.
  • Pesticides: Pesticides are often used to grow conventional cotton and other fabrics, and can lead to serious health issues. Studies have linked these used in growing cotton to a higher risk of certain types of cancer.
  • Lead and Cadmium: Some materials used in clothing dyeing and printing processes may contain lead or cadmium, which has been associated with cancer.
  • Azo Dyes: Azo dyes are used to give synthetic materials their bright colors. While these are used in clothing items, they may break down into carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds when exposed to sunlight or sweat.

What You Can Do To Minimize Your Risks

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of exposure to any of these potentially dangerous materials.

  • Educate yourself: Before purchasing items of clothing, research the materials used to make them. Avoid items with potentially hazardous materials, or materials of unknown origin.
  • Choose organic: Buy clothing made of natural, organic materials when possible. Choose items labeled “GOTS” certified to make sure they are free of hazardous chemicals.
  • Peel labels: Before putting on new clothing items, peel away all labels and tags to minimize skin contact with hazardous chemicals.
  • Minimize exposure: Wash new clothes before wearing them to reduce the amount of chemicals on the items. Hang dry new clothes when possible and never wear them in direct sunlight, as this can break down chemicals.

Remember, clothing can not directly cause cancer. However, clothes made from certain materials may come with additional health risks, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about the clothes you choose to wear and the chemicals used to make them.

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