US non-profit, human health and environment advocacy group the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its EWG’s Dirty Dozen; Cancer prevention Edition, its latest consumer guide that highlights 12 of the worst chemicals that are known to disrupt cancer-related pathways that gives consumers tips on how to avoid them.

EWG said that from BPA to lead and mercury, there are many potentially carcinogenic chemicals EWG has long recommended you avoid. Now, thanks to the ground breaking work of the Halifax Project, we’re learning that certain combinations of these and other chemicals could cause cancer by disrupting multiple pathways and overwhelming the body’s defences.

“Scientists are only beginning to investigate how certain chemicals may interact to contribute to cancer development. But given that we live in a sea of chemicals, it makes sense to begin reducing exposures to ones we know are bad actors,” EWG said.

The top 12 worst chemicals are:

  1.  Bisphenol A (BPA)
  2.  Atrazine
  3.  Organophosphate pesticides
  4.  Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)
  5.  Lead
  6.  Mercury
  7.  PFCs (polyflurochemicals).
  8.  Phthalates
  9.  Diethlyhexyl Phthalate (DEHP)
  10. PDDEs (fire retardents)
  11. Triclosan
  12. Nonylphenol.

Here are EWG’s tips for avoiding 12 harmful chemicals that have now been found to also disrupt cancer-related pathways — known as cancer hallmarks. Look up:

“You may be surprised by some of the chemicals that made EWG’s latest list. Take atrazine – a chemical so potent that male frogs exposed to low levels of it can turn into female frogs. It is also one of the most widely used herbicides in the U.S.,” EWG said.

“Adopting a healthy lifestyle is key to reducing your risk of cancer, but cutting down on the number of toxic chemicals in your life is also critical to keeping you and your family healthy and cancer-free.”

Apples top Dirty Dozen list for 5th year

Earlier this year, EWG revealed that apples, peaches, and nectarines topped EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce Dirty Dozen™ list of the dirtiest, or most pesticide-contaminated, fruits and vegetables, according to a new analysis of US government data. Apples turned up with the highest number of pesticides for the fifth year in a row, while peaches and nectarines moved up to the second and third spots.

Nearly two-thirds of produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and analyzed by EWG for the 2015 Shopper’s Guide contained pesticide residues – a surprising finding in the face of soaring consumer demand for food without agricultural chemicals, EWG reported.

EWG said that USDA tests found a total 165 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetables samples examined in 2013.

“The bottom line is people do not want to eat pesticides with their fruits and vegetables,” said Ken Cook, EWG’s president and cofounder. “That’s why we will continue telling shoppers about agricultural chemicals that turn up on their produce, and we hope we will inform, and ultimately, empower them to eat cleaner.”

Apples tend to have the most pesticides because of the chemicals applied to the crop before and after harvest to preserve them longer, analysts said.

Other produce items on the 2015 Dirty Dozen™ list are strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.

Since leafy greens and hot peppers were frequently contaminated with insecticides that are particularly toxic to human health, EWG highlights these items in its Dirty Dozen Plus™ category.