A review of several studies conducted on cancer-causing chemicals has highlighted the possibility of an increased cancer risk in babies as a consequence of exposure to organochlorines. Pesticides and certain types of plastic contain high concentrations of such chemicals and may be passed on to humans through the food, water, air.
In addition, it can be indirectly passed on to human beings through meat and dairy products. Although it is possible that babies and young adults are at increased risk of developing cancer, Prof. John Toy, belonging to Cancer Research, UK has stated that no definitive association has been identified so far.
Organochlorines can have a profound impact on the hormone production and hence have been thought to play a major role in the risk and development of hormone dependent cancers such as breast cancer, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
The results of the study state that babies in utero and those being breast fed, exposed to very low concentrations of the chemical might be particularly at increased risk of developing cancers, sooner or later in life. This could perhaps be attributed to the transfer of cancer causing chemicals from mother to baby, through breast milk.
Dairy products, meat and other forms of diet is the main source of exposure to organochlorines. Children are commonly exposed to dioxin, a by-product of organocholine metabolism through food. Enhanced accumulation of such toxic chemicals can result in increased exposure to babies in utero and infants.
In view of the potential health hazard, the researchers have stressed on the need for public awareness regarding the dangers associated with smoking, drinking etc. Furthermore, they have called for formulation of appropriate strategies to minimize exposure to such chemicals. A well balanced diet and physical activity may play a crucial role in counteracting the harmful effect of carcinogenic chemicals.
'While there is reason for parents to be concerned about the level of chemicals their baby is exposed to, it is wrong to suggest that women who are breastfeeding, or who plan to breastfeed, should be more concerned, or indeed refrain from breastfeeding their baby, because of worry about levels of chemicals and pesticides in breastmilk,' concluded Rosie Dodds, of the National Childbirth Trust.