October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and this means one thing:
What is pinkwashing? It’s actually a marketing ploy that brands use to sell more products by branding things with the color pink, even – not kidding here – fracking drill heads. Pinkwashing is generally done with a blind eye turned to the fact that many of these products that are pink-labeled actually contain more than a fair share of carcinogens – that is, known cancer-causing agents. In fact, some of them even contribute to breast cancer itself.
You’ve probably seen the ads for “No Bra Day.” First of all, I’m not happy with this campaign but that’s my own choice. (Dude, I don’t a wear a bra any day unless I’m dressing up, and I’m not sure this isn’t sexualization.) What bothers me more is this talk of cancer awareness (who isn’t aware of breast cancer?) with NO talk of prevention.
The Dangers of Pinkwashing
True prevention means avoiding many of the toxic CRAP that is actually put in the products that wrap themselves in pink for October. Very little of the extra profits these companies make from pink packaging goes into research or, heaven forbid, prevention. And the word “cure” is owned by Susan B. Komen owns it, meaning other brands can’t use it. And keep in mind that traditional breast cancer treatment often causes another form of cancer. Some carcinogenic products that pinkwash while wrapping themselves in a breast cancer awareness label include:
- Soup and other canned products. There have been studies showing a link between BPA and breast cancer. You can (and should) live without canned foods, anyway, they are predominantly loaded with MSG.
- Even if you truly don’t believe BPA is toxic, the other companies that flagrantly flaunt pink this month are cosmetic companies, loaded with carcinogens from petroleum to formaldehyde.
- Parabens is one of biggest offenders and it is in a LOT of beauty products.
- Synthetic ragrances are largely unregulated, featuring proprietary ingredients
Breast cancer rates are on the rise in the U.S., from 1 in 11 in the 70s to 1 in 8 through 2007. African American women are more likely than white women to die from it, and the same holds true for women under 40. And while making sure you do your own breast exam monthly is important, and get checked out if anything funny occurs, the BIGGEST thing you can do to stop breast cancer is to PREVENT IT.
Ways to Possibly Prevent Breast Cancer
- Detox your beauty cabinet!
Check out the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. Scan your brand’s ingredients on the EWG Skin Deep Database. Use brands that are clean and safe, like 3 Girls Holistic, Luminance Skin Care or the high end Anne Marie Gianni. Try Red Apple Lipstick too. Or go natural and make recipes for yourself!
- Better nutrition.
There’s a ton of good, healthy, antioxidant (and BPA free) food out there. Reduce your GMOs and exposure to glyphosate by eating organic. Cut down the sugar. Cut out aspartame and food created in a lab. Kick out the preservatives and buy organic produce and dairy. Switch to grass fed beef. Clean your water with reverse osmosis filters. In fact, consider working with a practitioner to detox your system.
- Use technology wisely.
Did you see that story about the young woman who got a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer in her 20s? And after a double mastectomy, it came back? Her doctors were shocked. It turned out she used to keep her phone in her bra, exactly where she found the first tumor. Anecdotal? Yes, but let’s just say that wifi and E&M have been suspected of cancer for a lot longer than you think. Back in the 90s, we discussed it all the time when I worked in telecom. And a teacher told me about research he personally did finding links to cancer from technology back in 2000. Be safe with your devices. This also means reconsidering mammograms, a topic for another blog post entirely.
Need more info? Great! Here are some awesome articles to help you:
- How to Buy Better Beauty and Personal Care Products
- Safer Beauty & Personal Care Products
- Excellent article from a breast cancer survivor: Not for Sale: A Case Against Pinktober
- I Will Not Be Pinkwashed: Why I do not support Susan B. Komen for the Cure: Similar article to above, with detailed statistic and charts. A few years old, but still potent & damning of the industry
- Tips for Avoiding Pinkwashing
- The Big Business of Breast Cancer
- How to reduce your BPA levels by 60% in three days
Organizations that care and raise prevention!
Safer cosmetic blogs:
Currently, I’m using Piper Wai and I also like Bella Organics as deodorant brands. Here is my Mamavation article on how to detox your armpits and possibly reduce your chance of breast cancer:
Books – all my Amazon Affiliate link:
- Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry
- There’s Lead In Your Lipstick
- The Green Beauty Rules: The Essential Guide to Toxic-Free Beauty, Green Glamour, and Glowing Skin
And finally, if your friend or family member has breast cancer and feels these groups or this cause has benefitted her, don’t go storming about this new thing that you just found or demonizing companies. My goal here is to enlighten you that perhaps these are not the best purchases for you or your family, and that safe, cleaner options are available without breaking the bank.
Living a nontoxic life is truly is it’s own reward. I can’t tell you that you won’t get cancer, but small changes, like removing carcinogenic products from your bath, beauty and personal care, can lower your risk of getting it.
Learn more about mammograms and their possible dangers. Is there a safer way to detect breast cancer?
Updated 10/7/15 & 9/29/16.