Can Fishing Lures Cause Cancer? [A Comprehensive Analysis]

Fishing is a popular pastime enjoyed by millions of people around the world. As an avid angler, I’m always on the lookout for new gear and techniques to improve my catch rate. But have you ever stopped to consider whether your trusty fishing lures could be harmful to your health?

Specifically, could they cause cancer?

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the potential risks associated with fishing lures and their impact on our health. In short, some fishing lures may contain harmful chemicals that can increase the risk of cancer. However, by being informed and making wise choices, you can still enjoy your favorite hobby without compromising your well-being.

The Hidden Dangers of Fishing Lures

Toxic Chemicals in Soft Plastic Lures

Soft plastic lures are a favorite among anglers due to their lifelike appearance and action in the water. However, many soft plastics are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a material known to contain potentially harmful chemicals called phthalates.

Phthalates: What Are They and Why Are They Dangerous?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and durable. They are found in a wide range of consumer products, including fishing lures. The problem with phthalates is that they can leach out of the plastic and enter our bodies, where they have been linked to various health issues, including cancer.

See also  Are Fishing Worms Good for Gardens? [A Comprehensive Guide]

How Phthalates Affect Our Health

Exposure to phthalates has been associated with hormonal imbalances, reproductive issues, and an increased risk of certain cancers. Studies have shown that phthalates can mimic estrogen, a hormone that plays a crucial role in the development of some cancers, such as breast cancer.

Lead in Fishing Sinkers and Jigs

Lead is a toxic heavy metal commonly used in fishing sinkers and jig heads due to its weight and low cost. However, lead exposure has been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer.

The Effects of Lead Exposure

Lead exposure can cause neurological damage, kidney problems, and reproductive issues. It is also a known human carcinogen, meaning it can cause cancer. Prolonged exposure to lead, even at low levels, can increase the risk of developing cancer, particularly in the kidneys and brain.

Safer Alternatives to Lead Fishing Gear

Fortunately, there are safer alternatives to lead fishing gear, such as tungsten, steel, and bismuth. While these alternatives may be more expensive, they can help reduce your exposure to harmful lead.

Cancer Risk and Handling Fishing Lures

While the risk of developing cancer from handling fishing lures may be relatively low, it’s essential to take precautions to minimize your exposure to toxic chemicals.

Tips for Reducing Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

  • Choose phthalate-free soft plastics or switch to natural baits
  • Opt for lead-free fishing gear made from safer materials
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling fishing lures, especially before eating or drinking
  • Store fishing gear in a well-ventilated area to minimize the release of harmful chemicals
See also  Raising Minnows For Bait: A Step-By-Step Guide To Growing Your Own Live Bait


Although there is a potential risk associated with some fishing lures, you don’t have to give up your favorite pastime. By being aware of the dangers and making informed choices, you can continue to enjoy fishing while minimizing your exposure to harmful chemicals. Choose safer alternatives, practice good hygiene, and always be vigilant when it comes to your health.


1. Are all fishing lures dangerous? No, not all fishing lures are dangerous. It’s important to be aware of the materials used in your fishing lures and opt for safer alternatives when possible. Some lures are made from non-toxic materials and pose little to no risk.

2. How can I tell if my fishing lures contain harmful chemicals? Check the packaging or the manufacturer’s website for information on the materials used in the lures. If you’re unsure, contact the manufacturer directly to inquire about the safety of their products.

3. Can I still use my existing fishing lures if they contain harmful chemicals? While it’s best to switch to safer alternatives, if you decide to continue using lures that contain harmful chemicals, be sure to handle them with care and wash your hands thoroughly after touching them.

4. Are there any regulations in place to protect consumers from harmful chemicals in fishing lures? Some countries and states have implemented regulations limiting the use of certain harmful chemicals in consumer products, including fishing lures. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area and choose products that comply with these guidelines.

See also  Can Fishing Pellets Go Off? How to Keep Your Bait Fresh and Effective

5. Can the chemicals in fishing lures harm fish or the environment? Yes, harmful chemicals in fishing lures can potentially harm fish and the environment. Chemicals like lead can accumulate in aquatic ecosystems, posing a risk to both wildlife and humans who consume fish from affected waters. By choosing eco-friendly fishing gear, you can help protect both your health and the environment.

Leave a Comment