Can Condoms Really Cause Cancer?

A disturbing report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has concluded that MBT, which is used in rubber manufacturing, “probably causes cancer.”

It’s not just condoms that are worrisome. MBT is also found in children’s pacifiers,  in rubber gloves, condoms, soft playground surfaces made of ‘rubber crumb’, medical catheters and car tires. Other potential sources of MBT include rubber insoles for shoes, air beds, elastic bands, babies’ dummies and swimming caps and goggles.

At a meeting in Lyon, France, 24 experts from eight countries said they were satisfied there was enough evidence to add the chemical to its “encyclopedia of carcinogens.”

In one study of the substance on workers at a Welsh chemical factory, professor Tom Sorahan, of Birmingham University, linked MBT to bladder cancer, bowel cancer and a type of blood cancer. But because the workers were also exposed to other chemicals, it was hard to be certain MBT was to blame.

Despite this uncertainty, there’s a lot of research out there proving that MBT causes cancer in lab animals, so it’s a strong possibility it could do the same in humans.

“The general public may be exposed to small amounts of MBT by skin contact with some rubber goods, such as gloves and footwear, or by inhaling tire dust in urban air, ” said a representative of WHO. “Risks to the public at large from these types of exposures have not been studied.”

Scary stuff. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what future studies have to say on the matter. Hopefully, in the meantime, condom makers will find a way to manufacture the important item without using MBT.

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