In the seemingly safe corners of our homes, an insidious enemy lurks: formaldehyde. This well-known contaminant, present in a variety of products we use daily in cleaning and decorating our homes, has been the subject of revealing research that has shaken the foundations of our understanding of home safety.
A pioneering team, led by Christopher J. Chang of the University of California, Berkeley, has discovered that formaldehyde is not only a DNA mutagen, but also an intruder that disrupts the epigenetic programming of our cells.
The study, recently published in the prestigious journal Science, has revealed that formaldehyde has the ability to modify the epigenetic landscape of our cells. This alteration, as suggested by the scientists involved, could contribute to the well-documented carcinogenic properties of formaldehyde.
Until now, this pollutant was simply considered a component of tobacco smoke or gasoline combustion, but this study has established a new link between formaldehyde and cancer, as well as other serious health conditions such as nasopharyngeal tumors, leukemia, liver degeneration due to fatty liver and asthma.
How does formaldehyde enter our body?
Formaldehyde enters our body mainly through respiration and, due to its ability to dissolve in aqueous media, infiltrates all the cells of our body. It is concentrated in a variety of products, from construction materials to hair products.
It is especially common in products used in construction, furniture manufacturing, the textile industry, and some hair products. Additionally, this contaminant is found in antiseptic products, medications, cosmetics, dishwashing liquids, fabric softeners, carpet cleaners, glues and adhesives, varnishes, paper, plastics, and certain wood products.
The impact on our body
Formaldehyde acts as an inhibitor of the MAT1A protein, the main producer of Sadenosyl-methionine (SAM), a crucial molecule that regulates epigenetic activity. Exposure to formaldehyde induces a reduction in SAM content and causes the loss of methylation of histones, proteins that package our DNA and control the function of thousands of genes.
This disruption in epigenetic regulation can trigger a cascade of adverse events in our cells, increasing the risk of cancer and other related diseases.
How to protect ourselves from the effects of formaldehyde?
To protect our health and that of our families, it is crucial to take steps to reduce exposure to formaldehyde. Opting for household and construction products that are formaldehyde-free is an important step. Adequate ventilation in our homes can also help dissipate this pollutant, allowing fresh air to circulate and reduce the concentration of formaldehyde in closed spaces.
Likewise, let's not underestimate the importance of choosing products and materials that respect our health and the environment. In doing so, we are taking a crucial step towards a healthier, more sustainable future for all.