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Presidential Panel Warns of Risk of Benzene Cancer Risk for Expectant Mothers

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Washington, DCWhile it is widely known that toxic substances can pose a threat to the development of an unborn child, a new report suggests that many Americans may not know the degree to which they interact with carcinogens that cause conditions like benzene cancer in the newborn.

In a recent release from the Presidential Cancer Panel, researchers claim to have found some 300 contaminants in umbilical cord blood ranging from industrial chemicals and consumer product ingredients to pesticides and car exhaust. The panel identified the threat as ambient, meaning that those particularly susceptible to carcinogens are placed in a near constant risk by their surroundings.

"The American people - even before they are born - are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures," wrote the panel in the official report, released on May 5. The group went on to advise President Obama "to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation's productivity and devastate American lives."

Chemicals like benzene present a particular risk, due to the commonality of their use in manufacturing rubbers, plastics, synthetic fibers, drugs and dyes. Benzene is also used as an additive in gasoline.

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