I’ve been seeing pink ribbons everywhere for Breast Cancer Awareness month in October and it seems every year, more and more brands are showing their support with donations on specific products to Breast Cancer Care.
Breast cancer is a scary thing and most people know someone affected by it which brings it all closer to home.
I recently attended an event at the lovely Four Seasons that was hosted by The Organic Pharmacy http://www.theorganicpharmacy.com/, with well-known journalist Sarah Vine.
Three members from the scientific community were also there to speak about their research on breast cancer and how our risk for it can be increased by what we put on our skin and into our bodies.
Here’s a breakdown of what was discussed:
- Philippa D’Abre presented evidence that parabens and aluminium can have adverse effects on human breast epithelial cells at concentrations measured in some human breast tissue samples.
- Elizabeth Salter Green discussed chemicals, health and the environment.
- Graeme Williams discussed the evidence about the mechanism of action of EDC groups on human breast, ovarian, testicular and prostate cells.
With these three members of the scientific community talking about ingredients in skincare products that have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, it was hard not to feel worried! The main point was that there is a link between parabens and breast cancer.
Many parabens can be found in our skincare products and environment around us. What are parabens? They are used as preservatives and can increase the proliferation of MCF7 breast cancer cells. Some concentrations of them are even sufficient enough to enable growth of breast cancer. Aluminium is one such ingredient that was spoken about several times. It also happens to be in every antiperspirant you can find. Sadly, we apply it to near the breast area almost every day at high levels and the worrying news is that it can be absorbed by the body.
However, there are ten steps recommended by Margo Moronne, founder of The Organic Pharmacy, that we can take to help lower our risk.
1. Choose hormone and pesticide-free meat and dairy
Synthetic growth hormones fed to chickens, beef and pork can mimic the hormone oestrogen which also feeds into milk, cheese and dairy. Pesticides can also mimic oestrogen and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Choose organic which avoids hormones, antibiotics and pesticides.
2. Eat organic fruit & vegetables free from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides
Pesticides are so toxic they kill pests, but they are also harmful to us and infect our water table. Studies have shown that herbicides, fungicides and pesticides can cause mammary cancer so choose organic or grow your own (free of pesticides of course).
3. Clean up your cleaning and household products
We spray air fresheners around our home, clean our baths, kitchens and floors with strong smelling liquids that can be laden with toxic chemicals. Formaldehyde in your washing up liquid, the list goes on. Choose products that disclose their ingredients, check the ingredients and make sure what you buy is clean and safe.
4. Avoid BPA lined tinned food, plastic bottles and food containers
Exposure to plastics such as Bisphenol- A found in canned food tins, water bottles, baby bottles and other plastic containers can adversely the normal development of mammary glands. Make sure what you use is BPA-free.
5. Avoid phalate laden fragrances, hair sprays, nail polishes and make-up
Phthalates are well known as endocrine disruptors. They can be found in fragrances, hair sprays, nail polishes, soft plastic toys and soft plastic shoes. They should be avoided.
6. Avoid exposure to radiation as much as you can
Natural radiation is part of our every day life but man made radiation such as X-rays and CT scans massively increase our exposure and have been known to have an established environmental trigger for breast cancer. Choose alternatives such as MRI or ultrasound where possible.
7. Ditch your teflon and aluminium pots and pans
Teflon can contain toxic per fluorinated chemicals which are endocrine disruptors. Try green non-stick pans made of ceramic or stainless steel or old fashioned cast iron.
8. Avoid triclosan and final natural ways to fight germs
Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent used in deodorants, creams, kitchen utensils, soaps, toothpastes etc. It has been associated with hormone disruption, allergies and even organ toxicity. There are so many natural ways to keep us germ free such as Hypericum, Calendula and Propolis for cuts and first aid and of course a healthy system doesn’t need daily doses of triclosan.
9. Choose organic skincare free from toxic chemicals
Our largest organ, skin, does absorb ingredients and should be exposed only the most healthy.
10. Avoid flame retardant fabrics in clothes and furniture – especially children’s clothing
Studies show the flame retardants e.g. Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE) are endocrine mimicking and can increase the susceptibility of mammary cells to cancer. Flame retardants are found in children pyjamas, and furniture.
So although breast cancer is a scary topic, there are ways and means to reduce your risk. Continue to support brands that donate to breast cancer research and choose organic when you can!