As I sit here, writing about breast cancer and how our environment (cosmetics, food, cleaning products etc) can play a role in the increased rate of the disease, all I can think about is my 12 month old daughter. I get emotional thinking of all the chemicals and toxins she has already been exposed to at such a tender age.
We have eliminated the toxic cleaning products, cosmetics, toys, clothing etc. But, we are surrounded by harmful chemicals daily. We need the governments to step up and implement stronger laws to eliminate these harmful toxins from our everyday products.
We all want to look and feel beautiful. It increases our confidence and can even open different windows of opportunity. When we feel great, the sky is the limit. To achieve this sense of well-being, many women reach for different products on the market such as shampoos, wrinkle creams, eye shadow, blush, lip stick, mascara, etc. What if I told you that many of the cosmetics and products we use may contain various harmful chemicals?
- Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as an antifungal agent, preservative and antimicrobial in creams, lotions, ointments and other cosmetics, including underarm deodorants. They are absorbed through the skin and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors.
- Phthalates are a group of endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are found in cosmetics like nail polish and in synthetic fragrance—both perfumes and fragrance ingredients in other cosmetic products. Phthalate exposure has been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogens in cell culture systems.
- Fragarance is a secret mixtures of chemicals used in both perfumes and scented cosmetics. “Fragrance” may include phthalates, synthetic musks (which may disrupt hormones) and ethylene oxide (a mammary carcinogen). The companies are not required to list these chemicals on product labels.
- Ethoxylated compounds is dimethicone, PEG-40, ceteareth-12 and other compounds with the syllables “eth” or “PEG” in them are used in a wide variety of cosmetics. These compounds are formed by processing with ethylene oxide, a mammary carcinogen, and can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, also a mammary carcinogen.
- Triclosan is commonly used in anti-microbial soaps. More research is needed to understand how triclosan relates to breast cancer, but evidence suggests it affects male and female hormones as well as thyroid hormone, which effects weight and metabolism.
- Lead may be a contaminant in over 650 cosmetic products, including sunscreens, foundation, nail colors, lipsticks and whitening toothpaste. Lead is a proven neurotoxin, linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. It has also been linked to miscarriage, reduced fertility in men and women, and delays in puberty onset in girls.
Yes, some of these harmful chemicals may be at low doses, but add up all the products we use daily from our make-up, shampoos and hand creams, and the amount of toxins entering our bodies through our skin increases significantly.
During the month of October, we see different companies stepping up and making their products all cute and nice with the pink ribbon. Proctor and Gamble, Estee Lauder, Avon and Revlon, to name a few, support the fight for breast cancer by selling their products and proceeds of their sales goes towards cancer research.
On the surface this looks great; companies that care about women’s health. When you dig a little bit deeper, you find that many of their products contain harmful chemicals linked to cancer.
This is know as Pinkwashing. A term used to describe companies that position themselves as leaders in the fight against breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease.
One of Estee Lauders slogans for their Pink Ribbon Campaign is “ Together. Connect. Communicate. Conquer. For a future free of breast Cancer.” It’s almost laughable. To start: how about you stop being hypocrites and conquer a future free of cancer by removing cancer causing toxic chemicals in your cosmetics?
Estee Lauder is one of the leaders in the pink ribbon campaign and it seems to me they should have a distinct responsibility to refuse to buy carcinogens from the chemical companies. They are a power house with the capability to shift the cosmetic market away from from harmful chemicals and look towards a safer, non-toxic replacement.
I most definitely do not have a problem with corporations supporting breast cancer research. What I can’t seem to wrap my head around is that these companies are promoting their products with the pink ribbon while some of their ingredients are linked to cancer. If these companies really wanted to make a difference for women’s health and be heroes, shouldn’t they start by eliminating the cancer causing chemicals from their products?
How can you make a difference? Take Action:
- Join The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics in asking Estee Lauder to stop buying carcinogens and hormone disruptors from chemicals companies.
- Join Safer Chemicals Healthy Families in asking Congress to know that you reject Big Chemical’s agenda and support the Safe Chemicals Agenda!
- The largest breast cancer organization in the world, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, has commissioned a perfume that harms women’s health and is selling it in the name of breast cancer. Write a letter to Susan G. Koman and “raise a stink” with Think Before You Pink on the new “Promise me” perfume.
- If you would like to see where your products rate on a scale from 0-10, 0 being the less toxic, visit the Skin deep database.
- Watch The Story of Cosmetics by Annie Leonard
Please join the Green Sisterhood and the Green Moms as we stand together and fight for safer chemicals in our products. Want to learn more about the chemicals and toxics in our products? Head over to Big Green Purse and see what all us Green Sisters and Moms are saying.
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