Week Two of Women Wellness Month – Breast Cancer Prevention.
Loving the Skin You’re In.
Written By: Amanda Hunter ND
Information That’s Good to Know
When I was growing up, we were taught the skin was a total barrier to anything entering the body, unless through a cut.
Well, that one has gone the way of the dinosaurs. As we now know, our skin absorbs approximately 60% of what we put on it. In some instances it is 100% of everything we put on it.
It will also absorb chemicals up to 10 times faster than by way of ingestion (by mouth). You can absorb more toxins from skincare products than food.
If what you are putting on your skin contains lots of toxic chemicals, guess where they are going. Straight through your skin and into your bloodstream, bypassing the two major protective mechanisms within the body – the digestive system and liver. And many of these chemicals are endocrine disrupters with links to breast and other cancers.
Knowledge here, is your power. This part of our series on Breast Cancer Prevention will not only give you the information you need to make an informed choice about what you put on your skin, but give you some fabulous alternatives that will not only have you looking great but supporting your health too.
First Part – The Chemicals in Skincare and Make-up
- This will give you an overview, and I will also include some links to websites where you can get even more information if you are interested. I encourage you to do this.
- Only the cosmetic companies know for sure what is in their products as all ingredients are not even required to be on the label.
- They are formulated to smell good, look good, feel good but have little regard to the impact on your health. Here are just a few examples:
- Parabens: a chemical found in underarm deodorants and other cosmetics that has been shown to mimic the action of oestrogen, which can drive the growth of human breast tumours. They are used as preservatives. Can be found in conditioners/shampoos, lipstick, sunscreen, toothpaste, hand soap. Consumer awareness has led to less use over the last few years, but, unfortunately, the chemicals the cosmetic industry has used to replace Parabens are believed to be even more damaging to health than the Parabens themselves.
- Sodium lauryl sulphate: present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair colour/bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, bath oils/salts. Its a detergent but its real problem is that during manufacture (ethoxylation) it is contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) by-product.
- Phthalates: you would have heard of these. They are plasticisers that are potent endocrine disrupters and need to be avoided for your own safety. They are also linked to birth defects in the reproductive system of boys and sperm problems in men. Found in body lotions, hair spray, nail polish, perfume.
- Something that will surprise most women: remove perfume, cologne and any product containing the word “fragrance” from your life. The reason is that all fragrance tested by the EWG (Environmental Working Group) contained phthalates. Pure essential oils make a beautiful, safe alternative.
- Musks: used as fragrances, can accumulate in your body and have been linked to hormone disruption and cancer.
- Amines: TEA, DEA AND MEA. Suspected carcinogens.
- Formaldehyde: a recognised carcinogen. Found in nail polish and nail treatments.
- The above are just a few examples. There are hundreds more.
- According to the World Health Organisation, close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion and may need to be banned. Yet many of these are appearing in our cosmetics and skin care products.
- For me – that’s a disgrace. In this age of breast and other hormonal cancers devastating women’s lives, why is this still going on?
- As women, we shop. We are consumers and we have the power to change this by the choices we make.
- So – listed below are ways to find alternatives. A way to support your body with healthier choices. There are links to websites with further information for you and sources of some of the best, most pure skin care and cosmetic lines available.
- So it’s not all doom and gloom – gorgeous, safe things await you.
The Chemical Maze: chemicalmaze.com. Bill Statham is the author of The Chemical Maze Shopping Companion which provides a simple and easy way to recognise additives in food and cosmetic that can cause harm.
The Chemical Maze Bookshelf Companion has all this information and much more – with a bonus section on household products and safer alternatives.
There is also a Chemical Maze App for iPhones. Another free App is “Think Dirty”
“The Story of Cosmetics” on U-Tube or through mercola.com is a 7-minute film which looks at the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in everyday personal care products. It’s great.
www.safecosmetics.org: Another information packed site. It will get you thinking.
www.mercola.com: Dr Mercola’s has made an outstanding contribution to increasing the public’s awareness of toxic and carcinogenic substances in food, water and personal care products.
www.theresekerr.com: Therese Kerr is a speaker, author and organic industry and wellness leader. Her website is packed with relevant information on this topic as are her presentations.
Health Food Stores like Flannerys and some Pharmacies stock quality, organic and chemical-free cosmetics and skincare products. There is something really nice about buying a lipstick in a colour you like that has absolutely no harmful ingredients in it.
A word of warning: skin care that says it is “organic” needs to be “Certified Organic”, most reliably “Australian Certified Organic”. A supermarket product with ‘organic’ on the label only needs to have a couple of organic ingredients in it, the rest can be anything else.
Once you educate yourself, you will know what to look for in any product you are thinking about buying and putting on your skin or in your mouth. If you can’t get certified organic products or can’t always afford them, look for the natural skin products that clearly list all of the nasties that are not in their skincare, as well as the good stuff.
Our take-home message today: build your knowledge, do as much as you can to avoid putting toxins and carcinogens on your skin, in your hair, under your arms and in your mouth and you will again be reducing, reducing, reducing your chemical exposure and doing something positive about preventing breast cancer. Combine this with your dietary improvements and you are doing a lot.