Risk factors and prevention measures - plus from skin care products to cosmetics, which ingredients put you more at risk for breast cancer, and how to keep your breasts healthy.Posted on October 11, 2022 Written by: 100% PURE®
If the months had a hierarchy, October would likely reign near the top for its near perfect temps, pumpkin spice everything, turn-of-the-fall festivities, and candy hunting night - but there is something of even greater importance and spookiness: breast cancer.
This month marks nearly 40 years of raising awareness about breast cancer. In recognition of the beloved pink ribbon movement, we wanted to help spread awareness about the risk factors, detection, and prevention of breast cancer.
In part 2 of this series we are using our voice to spread awareness of cancer-causing ingredients in skin care products and cosmetics. We rise-up in support of breast cancer and how to make our breasts’ – and our skin’s health priority number one.
If there was a time we’d go to the greatest lengths to find out, it would be discovering a crystal ball that could tell us about anyone who is likely to get any cancer, especially when it affects the breasts. Breast cancer is of utmost importance because it’s the second leading cause of cancer death among women overall and the leading cause of cancer death among Hispanic women. And it affects men, too.
Since breast cancer does not single anyone out, who is most at risk for the disease? It’s due to a combination of factors; the top two being a woman and aging – those risk factors accounting for 70-percent of breast cancer cases alone. But for the other percentage, the following other higher to lower range of risk factors for the condition include:
Genetics: Certain genes or changes in other genes; strongest risk.
Radiation Therapy: Exposure to large, excessive amounts of radiation; strongest risk.
Prior Breast Cancer: A prior diagnosis of breast cancer; moderate risk.
Family History: If a direct family member (mother, sister, or daughter) has been diagnosed; moderate risk.
Breast Lesions: A history of certain noncancerous (benign) conditions or changes in breast cells; moderate risk
Weight: Being overweight, especially after menopause; moderate risk.
Other lesser risk factors include: Distant family members with the condition; long-term use of hormone replacement therapy; early menstruation and late menopause; having children later in life or not having any; high alcohol consumption; dense breast tissue; diabetes; and inactive lifestyle. Race is at a higher risk with Caucasian women being at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer. However, women of color under 40 are more likely to develop breast cancer than Caucasian women under 40.
Having one or more risk factors doesn’t guarantee that breast cancer will occur, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Unfortunately, however, some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of.
Did you know there are potential breast cancer-causing ingredients lurking in your skin care, cosmetics, and hair care products? That’s right! Those are sneaky little preservatives called parabens, which are used to prevent bacteria from forming in products. These culprits get even sneakier hiding behind the names methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben or isobutylparaben.
Alarmingly, the American Chemical Society estimates that parabens are in 85% of personal care products. These are products you’re using daily, dozens of times a day, 365 days a year. As you might imagine, the effects of parabens can build up when used frequently. OK, so why are parabens bad for us? Anything we inhale, ingest, or put on our skin can be absorbed in the body and potentially cause damage over time.
Studies show that parabens artificially mimic estrogens in the body, leading to a host of problems including various cancers including and most notably, breast cancer. Estrogen is a female hormone that has been known to cause both normal and cancerous breast cells to grow and divide.
In the past decade, research has concluded that parabens were present in 99% of breast cancer tissues sampled. Breast cancer tumors contained measurable amounts of six parabens, found in relative concentrations that closely parallel their use in the synthesis of cosmetic and skin care products. The EWG suggests that repeated paraben exposure over time (and through the many items containing them) could cause serious harm.
Any personal care product that has an ingredient ending in -paraben should be on your list of products to avoid. Beside parabens, there are other potential cancer-causing ingredients you should avoid. The good news about these culprits is that they can easily be avoided, and replaced with safer alternatives. Read on to find out – it’s easier than you might think!
Improving your diet can improve your overall health which might lessen your risk of breast cancer. Though no food or diet can prevent you from getting breast cancer, some foods can make your body the healthiest it can be and help keep your risk for breast cancer as low as possible.
You’ll want a high nutrient- and antioxidant-rich diet to help increase your protection from breast cancer. Some of these nutritious foods include:
#1. Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and collard greens get loaded with antioxidants that can destroy free radicals that cause cancer. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers learned that women who ate dark leafy greens had a far lower breast cancer risk than women who didn’t eat these vegetables.
Berries contain antioxidants and vitamins that can protect cells, repair damaged cells, and slow the spread of cancer cells. Darker berries have 50% more antioxidants than lighter berries. So, load up on those blackberries and blueberries.
#3. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, folate, calcium, and many other nutrients that may prevent and fight breast cancer. In a 2013 study published in the Journal of Breast Cancer, researchers found that women who ate plenty of citrus fruits were 10% less likely to get breast cancer.
#4. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are high in probiotics (and antioxidants and nutrients), which are live “healthy” bacteria and yeasts. They can help prevent your body from absorbing harmful toxins that cause breast cancer. Apple cider vinegar, kimchi, and sauerkraut are great sources.
#5. Fatty Fish
Certain types of fish contain healthy fats and antioxidants that can reduce inflammation associated with breast cancer. Fatty fish is best when baked or smoked, and include salmon, tuna, and trout.
#6. Allium Vegetables
“Allium” is the Latin word for garlic. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Breast Cancer, researchers found that women who ate lots of raw garlic had a lower risk of breast cancer. It might be tough sporting garlic breath everywhere, so feel free to mix up with chives or leeks.
Beans, beans, good for your heart. The more you eat, the more you help ward off breast cancer. The vitamins and minerals in beans can strengthen the immune system to make you less vulnerable to breast cancer. In a 2018 study published in Cancer Medicine, women who ate lots of beans reduced their breast cancer risk by 20%.
Other foods and drinks that can help lessen your risk of breast cancer, but are not guaranteed, and not limited to are; spices and herbs, like turmeric, ginger, and black pepper; cruciferous vegetables, such as arugula, bok choy, and broccoli. Some beverages known to help lessen the risk of breast cancer include drinking fermented pomegranate juice, which contain compounds called ellagitannins that can help with the growth of breast cancer cells.
Green tea is another beverage that might help lessen the onset of breast cancer. It contains compounds and various antioxidants that reduce a woman’s breast cancer risk. According to a 2014 study published in the World Journal of Clinical Oncology, women who drink at least 10 cups of green tea may be able to prevent breast cancer.PRO TIP: Parabens also lurk in foods; the nerve! They’re identified as “E” numbers instead, like methylparaben (E218). Be on the lookout for typical food products that contain these preservative culprits!
As described above, if you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer. Screening means checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. This could be my means of mammogram or an MRI, as well as clinical exams done by a health care provider and breast self-exams you can do.
Other ways you can help keep your breasts healthy are by being physically active, eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of nutrients and antioxidants, avoiding excessive drinking of alcohol, reframing from smoking, and avoiding prolonged exposure to chemicals. Toxic ingredients and chemicals include those in personal care products that have the potential to cause breast cancer. At 100% PURE, we are committed to formulating safe, cruelty-free, and natural makeup and skin care products.
October can feel different for each of us — many wear pink in observance, some quietly observe the month, some feel grief, and others feel unseen or misunderstood. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a chance for all Americans to take time, and acknowledge and support those women and men whose lives have been affected by breast cancer.
Let’s do our part to help increase awareness of breast cancer and to promote regular screening, early detection, and treatment of breast cancer. We all want to stay the healthiest we can be and help keep our risk for breast cancer as low as possible.
We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.
The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.