Thursday, July 21, 2011

Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

Hey Gang,
OK, brace yourself. This is a mom-rant.

(Big breath)
Ya know, if some sunscreen or lotion company (that should probably remain nameless) tells me in large letters on the package that the lotion is “For Babies” or “Tiny Sensitive Faces,” is there any reason why I should not expect this product to be free of potentially harmful chemicals, nano-particles, parabens, and stuff I can’t pronounce? Do I really need a degree in chemistry to ensure my daughter is not going to go into puberty a year earlier than she normally would have, had she not been slathered with gallons of these things from the time she was a few months old??
Evidently, I do need a degree in chemistry, because there is no governing body that regulates what chemicals go into baby shampoo or baby sunscreen—the company just has to tell you it’s in there. Thanks for that ingredient list there Slick, because I was really looking for the… 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor (4-MBC) to keep from getting a sunburn. Only, I had no idea it might cause learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems, deformations of the body (including limbs); sexual development problems, feminizing of males or masculine effects on females.

(Big sigh)
You’ve got to be kidding me.

OK, rant off, motherly advice on.

It’s summer. You need sunscreen and bug spray and deodorant. There are un-regulated chemicals in all of these things. To check what’s in there, what it’s potentially doing to you, and see how your product stacks up, go to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database. They have cataloged over 65,000 products and rated them according to the chemicals they contain.

Things I stopped using:
—any sunscreen that doesn’t say on the label “No PABA”
—any lotion that contains parabens
—insect repellent containing DEET
—shampoo that isn’t sulfate-free (side effect of that is I have less grey in my hair now than 5 years ago when I was coloring it to hide the grey. I stopped coloring it, because… now there’s not enough grey.)
—deodorant with aluminum

So what DO I use?
There are a lot of good brands out there. Some of my personal favorites are:
California Baby - excellent lotions, bubblebaths and sunscreens. Available at Target!
Burt’s Bees - sometimes a little thick, but good lotions.
Say Yes to Blueberries - lots of skin care products, and also available at Target!
Enjoy Haircare products - there’s probably something that has a better EWG rating, but I’m happy so far
Tom’s of Maine deodorant

Most advocates for more healthful products are very reluctant to endorse other companies, which I have found very frustrating in my search for something that I SHOULD use that is effective. Well, these are my personal products, and not necessarily an endorsement of one product over another. When in doubt, do a check with the EWG database, and stay away from fragrance, and most things you can’t pronounce.

Since I got involved with Team LUNA Chix, I’ve really been educated by the work we do with the Breast Cancer Fund concerning the environmental causes of breast cancer (and other disorders) and what I personally can do to take back control of my and my family’s health. When I first started reading about it, and getting familiar with the mission of the Breast Cancer Fund, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of information I had to digest and the seeming mountain of things I had to change. But I’ve found that, just like physical training, re-training my mind to consider all the ways my body processes chemicals is not an overnight task. You do what you can when you can.

Finally, I am not an alarmist. I really don’t think they’re out to get me. But I have seen the state of the evidence. And that evidence points to breast cancer and other cancers on the rise dramatically in the past 40 years. It points to girls going into puberty on average a year earlier than they did 40 years ago. It points to a lot of chemicals we didn’t have when I was growing up, but that are everywhere now. There’s a reason we are ailing, and I believe there’s something we can do about it. It may be a drop in the bucket here and there, but at one drop per second, I can fill your gallon bucket in less than a day.

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