Clothing Facts: Acrylic Fibers
Acrylic Fibers – Bad
Women exposed to acrylic fibers early in life multiplied their breast cancer risk by seven fold, while nylon fiber exposure almost doubled their risk, according to 2010 study results reported in the British medical journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The worrying study points to a long delay between exposure to these chemicals and pollutants and the actual development of cancer. For example, the study found that if a woman’s exposed to these chemicals and pollutants before her mid-30s, her risks of developing breast cancer after menopause triple.
The Techie Science quoted from BMJ: Occupational and Environmental
Results Odds ratios (ORs) were increased for the usual risk factors for breast cancer and, adjusting for these, risks increased with occupational exposure to several agents, and were highest for exposures occurring before age 36 years. Increased ORs were found for each 10-year increment in duration of exposure, before age 36 years (OR<36), to acrylic fibres (OR<36=7.69) and to nylon fibres (OR<36=1.99). For oestrogen-positive and progesterone-negative tumours, the OR doubled or more for each 10-year increase in exposure to monoaromatic hydrocarbons, and to acrylic and rayon fibres. The OR<36 also doubled for exposure to organic solvents that metabolise into reactive oxygen species, and to acrylic fibres. A threefold increase was found for oestrogen- and progesterone-positive tumours, with exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from petroleum sources.
Conclusion Certain occupational exposures appear to increase the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer, although some findings might be due to chance or to undetected bias. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that breast tissue is more sensitive to adverse effects if exposure occurs when breast cells are still proliferating. More refined analyses, adjusting for hormonal receptor subtypes and studies focusing on certain chemical exposures are required to further our understanding of the role of chemicals in the development of breast cancer.
Natural Fibers – Good
Aside from the obvious benefits of how natural fabrics breath, feel, and hang on the body there are major benefits of avoiding synthetics like acrylic fibers.
Organic cotton, bamboo and other natural-fiber fabrics (such as luxurious silk) are chock full of benefits for the wearer:
- Natural fibers look and feel good.
- The fibers are tightly woven, yet extremely breathable and surprisingly soft.
- They do not cling to the body.
- They’re created without toxins or unnatural processes.
- They’re extremely lightweight, yet provide warmth and protection.
- The fabrics can be used in everything from cotton t-shirts to silk gowns.
- Natural fibers are biodegradable.
HIGH QUALITY, LOW IMPACT
There’s a misconception that natural-fabric clothing looks like unbleached cotton or baggy, beige hemp — but actually, natural-fiber clothing is sold in a wide variety of colors and styles. The natural attributes of the fabric actually make it hold dye better than its man-made counterpart.
Only over the last century or two have synthetic processes been used to dye fabrics. For thousands of years before, however, natural dyeing processes enhanced the color of fabrics and garments.
With a renewed resolve to take better care of ourselves and Mother Earth, we find ourselves resorting to the old techniques that keep natural-fabric clothes, well, natural.
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