Beyond Pink Ribbons and Awareness. On to Prevention.

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Beyond Pink Ribbons and Awareness.  On to Prevention.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and pink ribbons are everywhere.

While awareness campaigns have made great strides to drive awareness and research funding, is there anyone today who isn’t aware of breast cancer?  I challenge you to find someone who hasn’t been personally affected by breast cancer.

For me, the term awareness has an entirely different meaning – awareness of the effect toxins have on our bodies.  This is where awareness can move into prevention.

First, some startling statistics:

  • 1 in 8 women (in the U.S.) will be diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Only about 5 – 10% of breast cancer patients have the “breast cancer gene”, leaving approximately 90% due to other influences
  • In just a generation (since 1978) there has been a 40% increase in breast cancer incidence  (source)

New studies increasingly link environmental exposures to the disease.  Consumers are becoming more educated, and putting pressure on companies to ensure the products we use every day don’t contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer.  Recent announcements from Target (to launch new standards to promote ingredient safety and disclosure), Walmart (to no longer sell beauty products and cleaners made with a targeted list of toxic chemicals), Proctor & Gamble (eliminating phthalates and triclosan from products worldwide), and Johnson & Johnson (to remove cancer-causing chemicals from its products by 2015) are the first steps in the right direction.

But we aren’t there yet.

Be your own advocate.  And an advocate for your family.

Cleaning up your beauty routine is a simple, effective way to reduce your exposure to chemicals linked to breast cancer.  Here are some simple tips to detox your beauty routine:

1.  Pass on the perfume

Perfumes are loaded with phthalates which are linked to endocrine disruption, and other questionable chemicals that don’t have to be listed in the ingredient list because it’s considered proprietary.   Use instead products made with essential oils, like 100% Pure body lotions, One Love Organics, or Lurke Natural Fragrances.  Check out my full list of natural perfumes (and more on why it matters!) here.

2.  Skip the antibacterial soap

Most antibacterial soaps contain triclosan which is classified as a pesticide.  Research has shown that triclosan can disrupt the endocrine system, amplifying testosterone. In animal studies, it reduced muscle strength. It may also harm the immune system.  Studies have shown triclosan isn’t more effective than hand washing with plain soap, so why take the risk?  Try instead Deep Steep foaming hand soap or Leap Organics.

3.  Find a safer nail polish, or skip it completely and go natural!

It’s important to stay away from the “toxic trio”: formaldehyde (a nail hardener also used in a wide variety of products is a known carcinogen) toluene (can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs, damage the nervous system and can be contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen) and dibutyl phthalate (can cause reproductive harm).   Also avoid formaldehyde resin and camphor for a safer “5 free” nail polish.  OPI has been independently tested and shown to be “three free” – not the case with all polishes that make this unregulated claim. An even cleaner, and just as awesome “5 free” brand is Zoya.  Really want to eliminate chemicals?  Try a water-based (not solvent-based) polish such as Scotch Naturals or Acquarella (vegan) which is made with fewer chemicals than even most non-toxic polishes.  You can read my full post about Nail Polish here.

4.  Avoid chemical sunscreens and sunscreens with vitamin A

Studies have shown common sunscreen chemicals exerted significant estrogenic activity, as measured by the increase in human breast cancer cells (source).  Vitamin A (also listed as retinyl palmitate, retinol) is suspected to speed the development of skin cancer when applied to skin and exposed to sunlight.  Here are several mineral sunscreens that don’t contain Vitamin A.

5.  Find an aluminum free deodorant

The verdict is still out on aluminum and there is a lot of controversy over its safety.  Some research suggests that aluminum-based compounds, which are applied frequently and left on the skin near the breast, may be absorbed by the skin and cause estrogen-like (hormonal) effects. Because estrogen has the ability to promote the growth of breast cancer cells, some scientists have suggested that the aluminum-based compounds in antiperspirants may contribute to the development of breast cancer (source). Deodorants also contain questionable ingredients like synthetic fragrances (phthalates), and polyethylene glycol (PEG).  Take time to find an alternative deodorant that works best for your body chemistry.  Ava Anderson and LaVanilla are my favorites.

6.  Learn the top ingredients to avoid and read your labels!

The easiest way to do this is download our Quick Guide for Safer Products and check it against the ingredient list of your products.  Below is an overview of ingredients to avoid.  All of the products recommended in the Live-Clear Shop are free of the following ingredients:

    • DEA, MEA, TEA
    • Parabens
    • Sulfates
    • Coal Tar
    • Vitamin A
    • Phthalates
    • Fragrance (parfume)
    • PEGs and “eth”s (ie: PEG 100 Sterate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
    • Triclosan
    • Formadehyde
    • BHA

Want to really make an impact on breast cancer prevention this October?  Clean up your beauty routine, and talk about this with your friends. 

The good news is there are a lot of great products that have clean ingredients.  You have to read the label.  Not the marketing claims on the packaging… even if the packaging proudly displays a pink ribbon.

I want to know what you think!  Leave a comment below, and share this article with your friends.

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