This has not been a good week in cancer news (not that it’s ever good). We learned that eating processed meats like bacon may increase our chances of developing cancer, and now we’re just finding out that tampons — yes, most tampons on the market — contain carcinogens.
A study out of Argentina found that at least 85 per cent of tampons, sanitary products, sterile gauze and cotton balls you see at the store contain a chemical called glyphosate. (For those of you who don’t know, glyphosate is used in chemical company Monsanto’s herbicide.) The World Health Organization says that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic” to humans.
“The result of this research is very serious. When you use cotton or gauze to heal wounds [or for personal hygienic uses] thinking they are sterilized products, [the result is that they are] contaminated with a carcinogenic substance,” said pediatrician Vazquez Medardo Avila in the study.
The study notes that crops like cotton (present, obviously, in tampons) are genetically modified and sprayed with glyphosate. The product is then manufactured and sent out to market with the chemical all over it. And possibly the worst part: tampons and other feminine hygiene products don’t have any “ingredient” or “component” listings on their packaging, so knowledgeable customers can’t even check to make an informed decision.
What can you do, then? There are two options: you can opt for organic tampons, which shouldn’t be sprayed with the herbicide, or try using the Diva Cup/its equivalents. (Of course, there’s that horrible story of the model who got Toxic Shock Syndrome from wearing her organic tampon for too long, but that can happen to any woman who doesn’t change her tampon, regardless if it’s organic or not.)
We can only hope that this leads to a change in production or manufacturing, since nearly half of the Earth’s human population is placing these products inside their bodies.
WATCH: To tampon or not to tampon?