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A new study has found that the use of mothballs nearly doubles the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for women.  Mothballs contain naphthalene and para-dichlorobenzene, which have long been recognized as toxic compounds and have formerly been found to cause other blood disorders. 

As in other studies, the researchers also found increased lymphoma risk for women who lived and worked on farms where pesticides were used, and who for those who use pesticides in their homes.  Mothballs are a type of pesticide that is often overlooked in cancer risk analyses, though the chemicals in mothballs are toxic and human exposures can occur from breathing the fumes as well as from handling the mothballs and wearing clothes that have been treated with mothballs.  Though the study was conducted using women as subjects, it is probable that the results apply to men as well.

The authors note that naphthalene and para-dichlorobenzene are also found in air fresheners and solid toilet-bowl deodorizers, and are often found when households are tested for hazardous chemicals in indoor air.

As always, Lymphoma Foundation of America recommends that lymphoma survivors take extra care to avoid chemical exposures.                               

Kato, I.; Watanabe-Meserve, H.; Keonig, K.L.; Baptiste, M.S.; Lillquist, P.P.; Frizzera, G.; Burke, J.S.; Moseson, M.; & Shore, R.E.  Pesticide product use and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in women.  Environmental Health Perspectives 112: 1275 - 1281 (Sept., 2004). 

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