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10 Cancer Myths

        Health | General Cancer Facts

4
Does Household Bug Spray Cause Cancer?

Cancer Myth 4: Household bug spray can cause cancer.

Respondents Who Agreed: 41 percent

Origin of Myth: Frequent news reports about studies in which the chemicals found in bug sprays cause cancer in mice.

Reality: Available evidence does not suggest a link between household use of pesticides (bug spray) and cancer. On the other hand, these products can be dangerous if precautions regarding breathing and direct contact are not followed. Careful use of pesticides is especially important for agricultural workers, who may be exposed at much higher levels than people who occasionally spray a bug in their home or garden.

When animal studies are reported in the news, people often get the false impression that the pesticide (or other chemical) discussed is a clear and present danger to humans in their daily activities. In reality, researchers use very high doses of a chemical in animal tests — exposures that people would never encounter. If consumers come in contact with a pesticide, it's at a very low concentration. These exposures have not been associated with increased cancer risk.

When Fear Hides the Facts About Cancer

If people become so worried about pesticides that they avoid eating vegetables and fruit, they may be doing more harm than good. Even though fruits and vegetables sold in groceries may contain trace amounts of pesticides, people who eat more fruits and vegetables clearly have lower cancer risks than people who eat few fruits and vegetables.

The American Cancer Society publication Good for You! offers practical everyday tips for reducing your risk of developing cancer.


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