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Are your Cosmetics Putting you at Risk for Breast Cancer?

The Paraben / Breast Cancer Connection – Get the Facts

No industry has aligned itself more closely with the breast cancer movement than the cosmetics industry. It has long flooded the market with products prominently displaying the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon. Yet while they proudly claim to care about women with breast cancer, their pink ribbon products all too often contain carcinogenic (cancer-causing) parabens – and if that isn’t bad enough, many of these toxic products are intended for women undergoing treatment for cancer.

What are Parabens and Why are they Bad?

Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as antimicrobial preservatives in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, including antiperspirants, lotions, sunscreens and general cosmetics. Parabens are absorbed through the skin and the gastrointestinal tract. Studies have shown that parabens mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen and can actually bind to the cellular estrogen receptor. This can increase the expression of many genes that are usually regulated by the natural estrogen estradiol and cause human breast tumor cells (MCF-7 cells) to grow and proliferate in vitro. A recent study by the Journal of Applied Toxicology detected the presence of paraben esters in 99% of breast cancer tissues sampled.

Products that Most Frequently Contain Parabens

  • Deodorants and Antiperspirants
  • Makeup
  • Lotions and Moisturizers
  • Sunscreen
  • Anti-aging Creams
  • Foundations
  • Perfumes

What Can I Do?

Parabens can take on many names, or no names at all in the case of fragrances (which are not closely regulated). Here are some simple steps to help you get started on the path to a paraben-free life: 1. Always read your labels! Get in the habit of reading the product ingredients just like you would for food. 2. Know the difference between Latin names and chemicals. Long words can be a bit intimidating, especially when they’re in tiny print on the bottom of a label. But not all long words are necessarily bad. Aloe barbadensis, for instance, is the Latin name for a highly beneficial aloe leaf plant. Methylparaben, however, is a member of the paraben family, and therefore poses serious health risks. 3. Know the pseudonyms. Personal care ingredients that include: “ethyl”, “butyl”, “methyl” and “propyl” are from the paraben family even if the word “paraben” isn’t used on the label. 4. Avoid fragrances and perfumes. The industry is not regulated and ingredients are frequently not used. Essential oils are naturally fragrant botanicals with numerous benefits. But commercial fragrances and perfumes are not. 5. Replace moisturizers and barrier creams with a good shielding lotion. Shielding lotions do not contain harmful ingredients and bond with the outer layer of skin to help keep the skin hydrated while locking out harmful irritants and allergens. 6. Replace sunscreen for a shielding lotion with SPF. By taking a proactive approach with your health, you can drastically reduce the risk of getting cancer.

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