Chemicals linked to breast cancer have no place in anyone’s beauty routine.
That’s what you’d think, but you can find these chemicals in personal care products sold across the United States. Due to an outdated and weak law governing cosmetics, carcinogens aren’t banned, or even restricted, in cosmetics in our country. The United States only checks 5 percent of ALL personal care products on the shelf for safety. On the other end of the spectrum, Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, and many other countries ban thousands of chemicals. It appears those countries are coming more from a place of prevention with the thought “if it may harm, let’s not allow it”.
Here are 5 chemicals (or suspects) linked to breast cancer.
# 1 – Phthalates
A top offender is phthalates, pronounced THAL-ates. These chemicals are banned from cosmetics in the European Union. However, phthalates are widely used in color cosmetics, fragranced lotions, body washes, and other products sold in the United States. Phthalates are linked to endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, and cancer. Read the labels on nail products to avoid this chemical. Also choose options that do not contain dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and avoid fragrances altogether. This chemical is hidden (or masked) under the word fragrance or even natural fragrance.
#2 – 1,4-dioxane
1,4-dioxane, a carcinogen linked to organ toxicity, is found in 22 percent of cosmetic products, but can’t be found on ingredient labels. This ingredient is not labeled because it’s a contaminant created from the reaction when common ingredients are mixed together. Read labels and avoid products that contain sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene glycol (PEG) compounds, and chemicals that include the clauses xynol, ceteareth, and oleth.
#3 – Triclosan
Triclosan is a commonly used antimicrobial agent that accumulates in the body and is linked to hormone disruption and the emergence of bacteria resistant to antibiotics and antibacterial products. To avoid triclosan, read the labels and stick with plain soap and water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found no evidence that antibacterial washes containing triclosan are any more effective than soap and water to protect against bacteria. While Minnesota is the first state to ban this chemical, you can take charge and ban it in your home.
#4 – Parabens
Parabens prevent the growth of yeasts, molds, and bacteria in cosmetics products. They appear in some deodorants and antiperspirants, in addition to personal care products that contain significant amounts of water, such as shampoos, conditioners, lotions, facial and shower cleansers, and scrubs. These estrogen mimickers are in nearly all urine samples from adults of a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds in our country. Look for products labeled “paraben free” and read the ingredient lists on labels. An interesting study at Maurer Foundation states that 99 percent of breast cancer tumors indicate the presence of parabens.
#5 – 1,3-butadiene
Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Toxicology Program consider 1,3-butadiene to be a human carcinogen. An air pollutant, 1,3-butadiene causes mammary and ovarian tumors in female mice and rats. 1,3-butadiene can be a contaminant in products that rely on isobutane as a propellant, such as shaving gel, hair mousse, hairspray, and deodorant.
No one wants to learn that their trusted, personal care products contain hazardous chemicals. Thankfully, safer alternatives are available, and you can take steps to reduce toxic exposures in your home. When you use this knowledge to check ingredient labels, you’ll protect your family from these harmful chemicals.