The Cosmetics and Cancer Connection

Yesterday was my first day back in class after Winter Break, and as always, I was overwhelmed with information that I wanted to share.

In two of my classes, the topic of breast cancer came up, and this is where I’ll start. I learned that the incidence of breast cancer amongst women under 40 has risen considerably in the last several years, and honestly, I was shocked. Historically, breast cancer affected women over the age of 40 due to factors like genetic mutations or hormonal changes.  Why are we seeing a shift like this?

What I learned is that women are exposed to numerous carcinogenic compounds through the use of make-up and other skin care items. In fact, this exposure is considered to be so detrimental, that the European Union Commission has banned the use of carcinogenic compounds in European cosmetics. In addition to unknowingly being exposed to carcinogenic compounds, we are hindering our body’s ability to filter out the offending carcinogens. Many women wear under wire bras which contain metal components that inhibit the drainage of lymph fluid from breast tissue. Lymph drainage is a critical part of our immune health.

In this new year, I challenge you to make wiser decisions as a consumer. Buy cosmetics that have been approved by the European Union Commission. Research the products you use with websites like the Environmental Working Group, which provide information on the health concerns associated with ingredients used in cosmetics.  Your purchases (or lack of) send a message to companies that put toxic ingredients in the products we use, use your dollars to make a statement.

References:

U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics

European Union Commission

Environmental Working Group

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3 responses to “The Cosmetics and Cancer Connection

  1. Pingback: Toxin Free Cosmetics and Cleansers | Simple Medicine·

  2. Interesting article. I was curious about the underwire bra though, and looked it up at your source through breastcancer.org It said there is no scientific evidence to support this rumor.

    • Thanks for your comment Rebecca! My understanding (from an in class lecture by Dr. David Musnick, MD) was that underwire bras hinder proper lymph drainage, which can lead to stagnant toxins, which increases the exposure of the breast to circulating toxins. This doesn’t mean that the bra itself is the offender, it’s more so about exposure to toxins through other sources (like cosmetics). There are far more factors in play than just wearing or not wearing an underwire bra (gene mutations, family history, lifestyle). It’s also true that my Naturopathic education often leads me to ideas that differ from conventional medicine. For example, breastcancer.org does not believe that sweating is a significant way to release toxins from the body, yet many ancient forms of medicine support this. Currently a study is being done at Bastyr University to determine what toxins are excreted through sweat and how much is actually released. As Naturopathic medicine moves towards a more evidence based approach, I hope that there will be a study that addresses lymph drainage and overall well being. I hope this helps clarify :)

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