10 Practical Ways to Help Prevent Breast Cancer (That You Can Start Today)
October is traditionally known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but for us at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, it’s Breast Cancer Prevention Month! Currently, 1 in 8 women in The United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, a stat all too many of us are familiar with.
When I started working at BCPP, one of the things that surprised me was that our exposure to toxic chemicals, beginning even before conception, influences the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis. Our science-based mission of eliminating exposure to these chemicals is threefold: policy + advocacy work, education + engagement, and movement of industries.
When you start to look at toxic products in your household, it’s sometimes overwhelming, but BCPP has some easy recommendations to follow. Check out our top 10 tips:
- My first suggestion is to minimize fragrance or look for companies that fully disclose their ingredients. Fragrance (or parfum) ingredients are often secret and can cause: breast cancer, birth defects, air and water pollution, asthma, allergies + more. The good news is this doesn’t mean you can’t wear or use your favorite scents. It does mean you need to look at ingredients though! I recommend using an app like Clearya or Think Dirty to help you sort through those lists that are especially long.
- Eat organic fruits, veggies and locally sourced foods. It’s not only good for your heath, but it helps reduce emissions and waste. Buy local food to reduce the distance from farm to fork, frequent your local farmers’ market, or join a local food co-op. Buy organic food to keep your body and the environment free of toxic pesticides by supporting farmers and companies who use organic ingredients.
- Clean your house with a wet towel. You’ll capture more grime in your house by dusting with a wet towel, and it won’t stir up dust.
- Take off your shoes at the door. Keep your home clean by avoiding toxic chemicals tracked in by your shoes.
- Ditch plastic! Plastics can leach harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates into your food and beverages – and in turn – into you. Use glass, ceramic, cloth (like beeswax-infused organic cotton), and stainless-steel food storage containers and reusable BPA-free water bottles.
- Skip the print. Shopping receipts, gas pump receipts, and airline boarding passes are coated in BPA or BPA-like chemicals and touching them can result in toxic chemical exposure.
Choose personal care products free of added hormones. Hormones like estrogen or placental extract may be found in hair and skin products, like hair relaxers and anti-aging skin creams, and increase risk of breast cancer later in life.
Also, check your beauty, dental, home, and menstrual care products for hormone-disrupting chemical ingredients, like parabens and phthalates. Over time, these can affect several hormone systems in your body. Checking ingredient labels helps you know what you’re putting on your body and breathing in your home so you can make safer choices.
- Read ingredient labels! Check out our Glossary of Exposures, highlighting substances with the strongest evidence linked to breast cancer.
- It’s perfectly legal for companies to put cancer-causing chemicals in our products. Visit our action center to use your voice to make a change and support brands that use only natural, non-toxic ingredients.
And remember, don’t get overwhelmed! After my first day at BCPP, I came home, looked around my house, and realized I had to switch out almost everything. But you don’t have to do it all at once! Use your products, and when you run out, find something safer.
Choosing safe, non-toxic products is a lifelong process, and our goal at BCPP is to make this easier through policy reform. We have recently introduced The Safer Beauty Bill Package, a suite of four bills that will make personal care products safer for everyone. We invite you to learn more and support the bills! As you start to get into the groove of finding new products and replacing the ones you have, continue to visit our website to stay up to date on the latest science.
At BCPP, our goal is to live in a world where fewer women hear the words, “You have breast cancer.” By supporting our work, shopping clean beauty brands, and pushing for policy reform, our collective goal will become a reality.