Skincare/Cosmetics Chemicals and Cancer
only 1 in 10 cases of breast cancer are linked to family history, when so many
more women are diagnosed today than even 20 years ago, and when science
implicates our environment in rising rates of the disease, we have to ask hard questions about the toxic chemicals we’re exposed to daily. In cosmetics alone – with and without the pink ribbon – we find:
used in lotions, shampoo and other cosmetics. Some parabens are classified as
endocrine disruptors because they mimic estrogen in the body. Higher estrogen
exposures are linked to higher risk of breast cancer.
Aluminum: a study published in 2003 by the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, found a correlation between earlier diagnosis of breast cancer and antiperspirant/deodorant use. A 2003 study indicated "underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer. 2004 and 2005 studies led by researcher Philippa Darbre, hypothesizes that particular substances in deodorants, such as preservatives called parabens, or bolts such as aluminum chloride used in antiperspirants, get into the bloodstream or accumulate in breast tissue, where they enhance or emulate the effects of estrogen, which stimulates the growth of cancerous breast cells. A 2007 study found that personal care products are a potential contributor to the body burden of aluminum and newer evidence has linked breast cancer with aluminum-based antiperspirants.
Phthalates: plasticizers found in nail polish,
synthetic fragrance and plastic packaging. These hormone-disrupting chemicals
have been linked to early puberty in girls, a risk factor for later-life breast
cancer. Some phthalates also act as weak estrogens in cell culture systems.
Fragrance: secret mixtures of chemicals used in both perfumes and scented cosmetics. "Fragrance" may include phthalates, synthetic
musks (which may disrupt hormones) and ethylene oxide (a mammary carcinogen). The companies are not
required to list these chemicals on product labels.
Nonylphenols: used in some cleansers. They have been
shown to disrupt hormones.
Sunscreen chemicals: some behave like estrogens and have
been shown to make some breast cancer cells proliferate.
Isobutane: a propellant used in spray-on hair
spray, gel, mousse, shaving cream and anti-fungal treatment. It can be
contaminated with 1,3-butadiene, a probable human carcinogen and a mammary
compounds: dimethicone, PEG-40, ceteareth-12 and other compounds with the syllables “eth” or “PEG” in them are used in a wide variety of cosmetics. These compounds are formed by processing with ethylene oxide, a mammary carcinogen, and can be contaminated
also a mammary carcinogen.
Metals: found in a
variety of cosmetics as colorants, sunscreens or contaminants. Iron, nickel,
chromium, zinc, cadmium, mercury and lead have been found in higher levels in
women with breast cancer than in women without breast cancer. Nickel, chromium,
cadmium, mercury, lead, copper, cobalt and tin also have estrogenic effects on
breast cancer cells in the lab.
Petrolatum: a derivative of petroleum used in lip
products and lotions. It can be contaminated with polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are both endocrine
disruptors and carcinogens.
Toluene: used in some nail products. Can be contaminated with benzene, a known carcinogen.