ByLisa Beres

Oct 7, 2014
Image courtesy Ann
Image courtesy Ann

We all know the staggering statistics. One in 8 women today will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women and is the leading cause of death in women from their late 30s to early 50s.[1]

Scary stats aside, what really is the underlying cause of this vast increase when only 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer are linked to family history and 90-95 percent of all cancers can be prevented through diet and lifestyle?

Think before you pink

Pink ribbons give many people a false sense of security in purchasing decisions, when in fact; many of these products actually contain carcinogens – substances directly involved in causing cancer.

This concept is commonly referred to as pinkwashing: the sale of items that contain ingredients that are known carcinogens, while marketing these products in support of breast cancer awareness.

Currently, Proctor & Gamble, the largest personal care manufacturer in the world, is under fire from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and with very good reason. P&G spends millions of dollars to boast pink ribbons on it’s packaging to increase consumer confidence and capitalize on sales, yet refuses to remove cancer causing chemicals from their products.

Call me crazy, but if you have this much power and influence, you also have a responsibility to protect those who are purchasing your brands (such as Herbal Essence, Tide, Cover Girl, Pantene).

Recently, a peer-reviewed study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) journal, Environmental Health Perspectives[2], identified seventeen types of chemicals, 102 in total, linked to breast cancer.

These chemicals were shown to cause mammary tumors in rats and many women are exposed to these chemicals regularly. Why is this important?

While few studies have evaluated potential breast cancer risks of these chemicals in humans, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has demonstrated that every known human carcinogen that has been extensively tested is also carcinogenic in animals.

Did You Know? The President’s Cancer Panel, the Institute of Medicine, and the Interagency Breast Cancer & Environmental Research Coordinating Committee have pointed to environmental chemicals as a promising direction for breast cancer prevention. (The Silent Spring Institute)

You’ve always had the power my dear

Isn’t it time we move away from awareness and into prevention? Less than 2% of chemicals manufactured or processed in the US have been tested for carcinogenicity[3].

The answers are clear and it’s up to us to take action by making healthier choices (use your voice to ask P & G to stop the pinkwashing hypocrisy HERE).

The good news is that you do have choices and let’s face it – your purchasing dollars speak volumes. By eliminating chemical exposures in your home environment and you can improve your health and well-being today.

10 Steps to Breast Cancer-Proof Your Home

  1. Get to Know Your Triangles Avoid plastic #’s: 3 (PVC – polyvinyl chloride; contains DEHP, a plasticizer), 6 (polystyrene; contains styrene) and 7 (PC – polycarbonate; contains Bisphenol-A BPA)
  2. Break up With Your Toxic Makeup –Parabens are preservatives added to many personal care products and are shown to have estrogenic activity in human breast cancer cells. Avoid: ethylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, and benzylparaben.
  3. Re Think Phthalates These plasticizers soften PVC and prolong the scent in cosmetic products, cleaners and air fresheners, but are xenoestrogens; synthetic chemicals that mimic natural estrogens.
  4. Air on the Side of Caution – Use HEPA portable air purifiers and vacuums and wet mop and damp dust to remove dust that can contain VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) and flame retardants.
  5. Forego Flame Retardants – Shop for furniture that doesn’t contain flame retardant chemicals. If flame retardant-free foam isn’t available, choose furniture and mattresses made with naturally flame-resistant fabrics and padding such as wool, hemp or Kevlar.
  6. Get Unstuck on Nonstick – PFOA and other perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are used in nonstick and stain-resistant coatings on rugs, furniture, clothes, and treated fabrics.
  7. Skip the Smoke – Avoid second-hand tobacco smoke (or quit smoking) and do not store gasoline or leave your vehicle idling in an attached garage.
  8. Drink Your Way to Health  Use a home water filtration system containing a carbon block filter that removes genotoxic by-products of drinking-water disinfection. Although MX concentrations are typically much lower than those of regulated disinfection by-products, MX is more potently genotoxic and carcinogenic.[4]
  9. Wet Clean your Dry Clean – Avoid halogenated organic solvents such as perchloroethene (PERC). According to the Occidental College’s Pollution Prevention Center, 85% of the more than 35,000 dry cleaners in US PERC. Instead find a dry-cleaner who offers “wet cleaning” or liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning.
  10. Chuck the Charred Food  HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) from grilled meat are linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide – produced by high-temperature cooking (ie: French fries, potato chips, coffee), tobacco smoke and water-treatment by-products, has been found to increase breast cancer risk as well.[5]

[1] Brody et al. 2007b; Woloshin et al. 2008.

[2] Rudel RA, Ackerman JM, Attfield KR, Brody JG. 2014. New exposure biomarkers as tools for breast cancer epidemiology, biomonitoring, and prevention: a systematic approach based on animal  evidence. Environ Health Perspect 122:881–895;

[3] Straif K [2008]. The burden of occupational cancer. Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 65(12):787-788.

[4] McDonald and Komulainen 2005; Richardson et al. 2007

[5] Olesen PT, Olsen A, Frandsen H, et al. Acrylamide exposure and incidence of breast cancer among postmenopausal women in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. International Journal of Cancer 2008; 122(9):2094–2100.

By Lisa Beres

Lisa Beres is a healthy home authority, Baubiologist, published author, professional speaker and Telly award-winning media personality who teaches busy people how to eliminate toxins from their home with simple, step-by-step solutions to improve their health. With her husband, Ron, she is the co-founder of The Healthy Home Dream Team and the 30-day online program Change Your Home. Change Your Health. She is the author of the children’s book My Body My House and co-author of Just Green It!: Simple Swaps to Save Your Health and the Planet, Learn to Create a Healthy Home! Green Nest Creating Healthy Homes and The 9 to 5 Greened: 10 Steps to a Healthy Office. Lisa’s TV appearances include "The Rachael Ray Show," "Nightly News with Brian Williams," "TODAY," "The Doctors," "Fox & Friends," "Chelsea Lately" and "The Suzanne Somers Show."