October has been Breast Cancer Awareness month since 1985. In
the coming days, pink ribbons will emerge in abundance,
symbolizing the efforts of educational and fund raising events
that take place to find the “cure”, and offering hope to those
already diagnosed. These local and national events will generate
millions of dollars. As the “Race for the Cure” continues, how
can women incorporate preventative measures into their daily
lives? Prevention is the hope that you will not be one of the
growing numbers of women being diagnosed with breast cancer each
Women are repeatedly told that “early detection is the best
protection”. Early detection is vital if you have been diagnosed
with breast cancer, but this is not the same as prevention.
While researching for this article, I realized that “early
detection” is often confused with actual “prevention”.
Sue Macleod, a breast cancer survivor and health care
professional, observes that since the petro-chemical era of the
1930′s, the incidence of breast cancer has risen from 1 in 50
women to 1 in 8 by the year 2000. To date, research continues to
explore the links between breast cancer and the environment. The
study, “State of the Evidence: What is the Connection Between
Chemicals and Breast Cancer?” presented by the Breast Cancer
Fund and Breast Cancer Action explores and summarizes the
research about links between breast cancer and the environment.
The document points out that we can no longer ignore the
increasing evidence that repeated exposure to certain chemicals
are contributing to the rising incidence of breast cancer each
year. Chemicals such as parabans, pesticides, cleansers and
pharmaceutical drugs act like estrogens in our bodies. This is
troubling, because a woman’s vulnerability to breast cancer
increases as her lifetime exposure to estrogen increases.
The mounting evidence linking synthetic chemicals to the rising
rates of breast cancer is empowering women to make healthy
choices in their everyday lives. These choices are preventative.
What can be done to prevent breast cancer and minimize risk?
*Choose 100% pure, synthetic chemical free cosmetics.
Individuals can make healthy choices regarding the personal
products they use daily. Many of these, including lotions,
cosmetics, shampoos and conditioners, contain chemicals that
have been linked to breast cancer. According to industry
estimates, on any given day, a woman may use as many as 25
different cosmetic and personal care products containing more
than 200 different chemical compounds. Avoid rubbing these toxic
cocktails into your skin by choosing healthy, organic and
*Be a more informed consumer. Ask critical questions about “pink
ribbon promotions” before you purchase a product. The cosmetic
industry has been criticized for raising money for breast cancer
research by promoting products that may actually contribute to
the rising tide of breast cancer. See www.thinkbeforeyoupink.org
for ways to demand safer products from cosmetic companies.
*Include high dietary intake of carotenes: dark leafy greens and
green and yellow produce.
*Eat foods rich in Vitamin E and Selenium: sunflower seeds,
freshly ground wheat, olive oil, flax oil, garlic, onions, and
*Reduce consumption of animal foods that contain hormones, such
as milk, chicken, beef, and pork.
*Increase consumption of organically grown foods.
*Create sufficient consumption of Vitamin D: sunlight, 10
minutes daily; sardines and tuna.
*Discover what really moves you and keep moving: gardening,
yoga, dance, walking, etc.
*Reduce or eliminate the use of plastic containers for food
*Avoid unnecessary radiation; radiation is cumulative over a
*Avoid using pesticides (weed killers, insecticides, etc) in
your yard or home.
Join community action groups that support organizations that are
investing in research that focus on cause and prevention.
Support the “race for the cause”.
So when you see those pink ribbons emerge this month, consider
that they proclaim “Prevention is the Cure”. Laura Weinberg,
co-president of The Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition says it
best, “The old pink ribbon is hope for the future. This pink
ribbon is saying there is something we can do today.”
Resources: Breast Cancer? Breast Health, Susan Weed
State of Evidence, www.bcaction.org, www.breastcancerfund.org
Pathways to Prevention, The Breast Cancer Fund
Cancer risk: Could beauty products have an ugly side? Sue
Hutchinson, San Jose Mercury News, September 20 2005.
Use With Discretion, India Statesman, Women’s Feature Service,
September 4, 2005
### Pamela Cronan-Maddox, herself an ovarian cancer Survivor, is
the visionary and president of The Alchemist’s Apprentice, Inc.
www.alchemistsapprentice.com., an online apothecary dedicated to
providing 100% pure, organic and healthy personal care products.