Solvent used in nail polish may increase risk of breast and ovarian cancer

Ethylene glycol methyl ether a solvent for nitrocellulose, oils and resins, adhesives and for many different purposes may raise the risk of breast or ovarian cancer among women taking hormone treatments, say researchers at Duke University. Ethylene glycol methyl ether is used in formulating cleaners, printing inks, photographic film, lacquers, and nail polish.

Ethylene glycol methyl ether (EGME) was found to boost the activity of hormones used in HRT and the contraceptive pill which in turn may increase the risk of breast or ovarian cancer for some women

The researchers also found the same effect was triggered by a drug used to treat epilepsy, Vaproic acid, which has a similar chemical structure.

Ethylene glycol methyl ether was found to boost hormone activity by up to 10 times. Researchers suggested that this could be particularly significant for women vulnerable to developing forms of cancer which are triggered by hormones. The research also hinted at a possible link between Ethylene glycol methyl ether exposure and miscarriage.

Dr Donald McDonnell, lead researcher said: "Our study demonstrates that these chemicals boost the activity of estrogens and progestins inside cells by up to eight to 10 fold."

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