The 4 common period products that could 'increase cancer risk' – and what to use instead | The Sun

The 4 common period products that could 'increase cancer risk' – and what to use instead | The Sun


PERIOD products are one of the most essential purchases we make.

Millions of British women and girls of childbearing age rely on range of products, from tampons to pads to period underwear, every month.

Yet, over the last few years reports have emerged suggesting some of these products could pose a threat to women's health.

Several sanitary items contain chemicals known as PFAS, short for polyfluoroalkyl substances. 

Also known as “forever chemicals", in high doses these substanceshave been linked to liver, kidney and testicular cancer as well as thyroid disease.

PFAS are also linked with increased cholesterol and reproductive and developmental problems.

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The toxic substances are found everywhere including drinking water, non-stick pans, food packaging, carpets and furniture.

A recent report even found the toxic substances lurking in contact lenses.

A series of lab analyses commissioned by consumer watchdog site Mamavation and Environmental Health News, found 48 per cent of sanitary pads, incontinence pads, and panty liners contained PFAS.

Some 22 per cent of tampons and 65 per cent of period underwear also contained the chemicals, which can be dangerous in high levels.

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Five popular tampon brands and 22 types of pads — even some advertised as organic — were found to detectable levels of a chemical which strongly suggests that PFAS are present.

Some of the pads and tampons that reportedly included indications of PFAS include:

  • Tampax Cardboard Applicator Unscented Tampons
  • Always Discreet 360 Form Fit Maximum Underwear
  • Always No Feel Protection Thin Liners
  • Amazon Basics Daily Pantiliners Long Length

Most studies looking into the health risks of PFAS focus on what happens when the chemicals enter your bloodstream, rather than skin-to-skin contact, Dr Frances Yarlett, GP and a medical director of The Lowdown, said.

She told The Sun: "There's currently very little research about how PFAS exposure from period products next to your skin can affect the levels found in your bloodstream, although some small studies suggest there may be a link,

"Clearly, it's something we would be interested in finding more about in the future."

If you have concerns about PFAS, choose period pants or sanitary products made from organic cotton, Dr Fran suggested.

Responding on behalf of the menstrual product companies, The Absorbent Hygiene Product Manufacturers Association (AHPMA) and European Disposables and Nonwovens Association (EDANA), told The Sun: "Sometimes trace levels of impurities may be found in absorbent hygiene products, such as sanitary and incontinence products."

However, these impurities (PFAS) are present in the environment or naturally present at "much higher level", they explained.

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"Our members use rigorous criteria for quality and hygiene starting with the raw materials and through manufacturing operations to prevent contamination with ubiquitous impurities.

"Our members also routinely test their products with external labs for the presence of background substances and these reports affirm our products are safe and that women can use them with confidence," they added.

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