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That’s the question of the day  – at least it is, going by the amount of press coverage the study published in the journal Environmental Health has generated. And it’s a subject I have written about in the past. Quite a lot, actually.

So I’m not that surprised at the study’s findings, which, in a nutshell, is that women who use the highest amount of cleaning products have double the risk of breast cancer compared to those who use cleaning products the least. Or, rather, that women who report using the highest amount of cleaning products…

Why do I say that? Because the study’s authors have themselves admitted there could be a problem with the way the study was carried out. Well, not how it was carried out exactly. But because of something called recall bias. In other words, if you have been diagnosed with breast cancer and you already suspect that things like cleaning products might have had something to do with it (er, perhaps you’ve read some of my articles, for instance), then you’re more likely to over-report your use of them. At least, that’s the gist of it.

“Recall bias may influence higher odds ratios for product use among participants who believed that chemicals and pollutants contribute to breast cancer,” the researchers from Boston University, have concluded.

So the researchers themselves are saying, yes, it looks like using lots of cleaning products (air fresheners, insect repellents and mould and mildew removers, but not surface or oven cleaners, nor home or garden pesticides to be precise) does double your risk for breast cancer BUT, well we’re not sure, because we can’t quite believe what our volunteers told us.

Now you know I don’t condone riskfactorphobia, but when it comes to housework I’m the first one in the queue to believe that it’s not good for my  health (because I HATE housework, oh come on, who doesn’t?). But that doesn’t mean I live in filth – I do, however, use all the usual  natural suspects (vinegar, lemon juice, water) and in my opinion they work extremely well (I use them because the smell of chemical cleaners makes me nauseous – which, as it turns out, may be a good thing).

So thank you, Boston researchers, for giving me yet one more reason to feel okay about not being exactly obsessive about household cleanliness. Phew.