Because we’re worth it

make up

So we all know about the importance of reading labels when it comes to figuring out the nutritional content of our food, but how careful are we in doing the same thing with our beauty products?

Research presented last December at one of the largest breast cancer symposia in San Antonio revealed that breast cancer patients who apply moisturisers may be dosing themselves with estrogen without even knowing it.

This makes for sobering reserach. Dr. Adrienne Olson, with Breastlink in Hawthorne, California, and colleagues analysed 16 widely available moisturisers for estrogen-like compounds. None of the creams analysed noted any estrogen content in their list of ingredients. Even so, six samples contained estriol or estrone.

Olson, who is a seven-year breast cancer survivor, explained that estrogens applied to the skin are more efficiently absorbed into the body than estrogens taken orally. She urged women with breast cancer that is driven by estrogen (that is, estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer) to avoid externally applied estrogen to minimize the risk of a recurrence.

Women without breast cancer are also at risk, she added. If they use estrogen-containing topical moisturisers, they may be dosing themselves daily with estrogen for extended periods, thereby boosting their risk of breast cancer.

Clearly we all need to be more vigilant and as women we can be very susceptible to the cosmetic industry’s marketing. It is not uncommon for us to use up to 20 different products on our bodies as part of our daily routine.  The industry spends a huge amount of money each year persuading us that we need their products.

Many of the everyday products we use contain harmful chemicals. Parabens, a common ingredient in many cosmetic products have been detected in human breast tissue and, although they cannot yet be conclusively linked as a possible cause of breast cancer, evidence suggests they can act as oestrogen mimics. Even for women who have not had breast cancer, they still need to be aware of the fact that lifetime increased exposure to oestrogen is linked to a heightened risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately not all toxic ingredients are listed on products.

However, once again, I do not wish to be part of any scare-mongering. I believe that we have suffered enough at the hands of those who tell us we caused our cancer by doing x, y,z or conversely not doing it. So, let me stress that as yet there is no conclusive evidence linking chemicals such as parabens to cancer, but notwithstanding this, doesn’t it make sense for us to become more informed about potential risks and try to minimise our exposure to potentially harmful chemicals? There are plenty of good resources on the web to guide you in making better choices. So next time you reach for the latest must-have beauty product, ask yourself if you really need it.  Women need to be more vigilant about all aspects of their health..because after all, aren’t we worth it?

If you would like to read more on this subject, visit the channel 4 website and see the links provided at How Toxic Are You?

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