Ready-made pies and pickles could increase cancer risks this Christmas, a health charity has warned.
Breast Cancer UK is offering a series of tips about what to eat and what to avoid during the festive period to help families reduce the risk of developing breast cancer.
It urges families to opt for organic and chemical-free products whenever possible.
Pre-prepared pie fillings and pickles can contain parabens, a class of chemicals which disrupt the hormone system and are linked to breast cancer but which are commonly used as preservatives.
Clare Dimmer, chairman of Breast Cancer UK, said: “Many of the gifts and festive food we buy can contain chemicals that increase our risk of breast cancer, so we thought we’d share some toxic-free tips this Christmas.
“With breast cancer rates at an all-time high this year, choosing alternatives to these products is a great way to help protect the health of family and friends.”
The charity is warning people to take care when reheating leftovers in the microwave because plastic containers contain chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) which can leak into the food.
This chemical is also in the resin lining of food tins, so customers should look for ones which are BPA-free.
People looking to buy pampering gifts this Christmas should avoid products with strong, synthetic fragrances and instead use natural products or even make their own moisturiser with raw coconut or olive oil.
Parents buying toys or other plastic products should avoid PVC plastic labelled No 6 and No 3 because they contain hormone-disrupting chemicals which are banned in toys for very young children across the EU but which may still be present in soft plastic.
Plastic cups and plates should also be thrown out when scratched, or after they have been used regularly in a dishwasher and or microwave. Old plastic products are more likely to leak chemicals.