I’ve heard rumors since I was in college about all of the potential causes of breast cancer as well as all of the potential ways to prevent it. Unfortunately, as with many health and fitness rumors, not everything you read online or hear through the grapevine is true.
I lost my mother to breast cancer several years ago. The 8+ years she battled the disease were the most painful time in my life, so I try to get to the truth behind the rumors whenever possible. I’m dedicated to doing everything I can to prevent breast cancer from taking over my own life and to helping prevent other women from having to worry about this often devastating disease.
What causes breast cancer and how can we prevent it?
With often contradictory information online and bountiful rumors, it can be difficult to sort through what we should or shouldn’t be doing on a personal level to help prevent breast cancer.
Thankfully, there are many organizations, researchers and medical professionals who are also dedicated to getting to the truth about what causes breast cancer and what we can do to prevent and treat it.
In the Journal of Applied Technology this past January, a comprehensive study, “Measurement of paraben concentrations in human breast tissue at serial locations across the breast from axilla to sternum,” offered more evidence that deodorant and other personal care and cosmetic products may indeed be one contributing factor to breast cancer.
The researchers, who were from the University of Reading (in the UK), found that the majority of tissue samples they took from the female participants contained one or more parabens. In fact, an incredible 60 percent of the tissue samples contained 5 of more parabens and 99 percent of samples contained at least 1 paraben.
What are Parabens?
are a group of chemicals used as preservatives in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. They are also sometimes used as food additives in processed foods. Without going too far into the science of parabens, it’s important to note that they do occur naturally in some plants such as the paraben methylparaben in blueberries.
However, the parabens used in commercial products are made synthetically. They have been widely used in commercial products for a long time and they are cheap and generally more efficient than other, natural alternatives such as grapefruit seed extract, which can also be used as a preservative.
Products that may contain Parabens
The David Suzuki Foundation has estimated that between 75-90 percent of cosmetic products contain one or more parabens. Products that may contain parabens include:
- Shaving gel
- Personal lubricant
- Spray tanning lotion
They may also be found in some pharmaceuticals, particularly:
- Topical medications such as foams, creams, ointments, lotions, and gels which are applied directly to the skin or mucous membranes
- Parenteral medications – which may be implanted, injected or delivered to the body by infusion
Not all products which contain parabens are required to state so on their labels. Fragrances, for example, do not have to list their ingredients on their labels.
What to do about parabens?
Other than discontinuing use of all products that contain parabens, research has not yet determined how we can prevent these chemicals from setting up shop in our bodies. Many people speculate that deodorants and antiperspirants that contain parabens may be the main culprit – if only due to proximity. The above mentioned study, however, also found parabens in tissue samples of women who did not use deodorant or antiperspirant.
Personally, I’m going to continue using deodorant if only because I have yet to find a viable alternative.
What do YOU think? Do you use deodorant or antiperspirant? Have you found a healthier / safer alternative? We would love to hear about it! Please comment below.