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Breast Health: So What Do We Do Now?



It looks like the post I wrote earlier in the week about pinkwashing and breast cancer awareness has struck a cord. It’s safe to say that we all know someone whose life has been impacted by cancer, and there’s nothing more frustrating than realizing that companies that appear to be helping have been thinking more about their own bottom lines than finding a cure. 

Eating pinkwashed fried chicken isn’t going to fight breast cancer, and it sure as heck isn’t going to prevent it. Neither is slathering yourself with toxic cosmetics, pink packaging or no pink packaging. Whether the billions of dollars that have been raised in the name of breast cancer research have gotten us closer to a cure or not is up for debate. But regardless, let’s not forget about prevention and how important it is to each do our part towards building a world that is less toxic, one strongly worded letter or trip to the farmers’ market at a time.

I wanted to follow up on Monday’s post by sharing with you some of my favourite cancer prevention resources. Of course, we can’t control everything, but educating ourselves about ways we can avoid cancer-causing chemicals is the first step towards keeping ourselves and those around us as healthy as we can be.

1. Watch This: Pink Ribbons Inc.

If you haven’t already watched this film, I would encourage you to do so ASAP. It’s available via the National Film Board of Canada, Netflix and iTunes.

Breast cancer has become the poster child of corporate cause-related marketing campaigns. Countless women and men walk, bike, climb and shop for the cure. Each year, millions of dollars are raised in the name of breast cancer, but where does this money go and what does it actually achieve? Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Léa Pool, “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” examines how the devastating reality of breast cancer has been hijacked by what marketing experts have labeled a “dream cause.” – TVO

One of the scariest statistics I learned from this documentary? Of all the money raised for breast cancer, only 15 per cent goes to research on prevention… and only 5 per cent goes to research on the environmental causes of breast cancer.

2. Read These: There’s Lead In Your Lipstick and Slow Death by Rubber Duck 

Slow Death By Rubber DuckThere's Lead in Your Lipstick

If you’re interested in learning more about environmental toxins and their links to cancer, these two books are a great place to start.

Here’s my review of Slow Death By Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie:

Pollution is no longer just about belching smokestacks and ugly sewer pipes – now, it’s personal… This book exposes the extent to which we are poisoned every day of our lives. For this book, over the period of a week – the kind of week that would be familiar to most people – the authors use their own bodies as the reference point and tell the story of pollution in our modern world, the miscreant corporate giants who manufacture the toxins, the weak-kneed government officials who let it happen, and the effects on people and families across the globe.

Buy in CanadaBuy in US

Here’s my review of There’s Lead in Your Lipstick by Gillian Deacon:

As a breast cancer survivor, Gill Deacon takes the issue of toxins in bodycare products to heart. Her book is a friendly, informative and meticulously researched guide to more considered options for personal care, showing how to navigate misleading labels and greenwash, and ultimately arrive at safer choices, for a healthier family and a healthier world.

Buy in CanadaBuy in US

3. Use This: The EWG’s Cosmetics Database

Natural Beauty Care

When it comes to choosing cosmetics, it can be really difficult to tell the truly good-for-you goodness from the toxic sludge. Even if the packaging looks all-natural, in many cases, what lurks inside might not be.

So how do you choose? I rely on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Just type in the brand name and products will pop up, complete with hazard ratings based on the product’s ingredients. Hint: If the database doesn’t include info on a brand you’re interested in, try typing in the product’s ingredients instead. It’ll let you know just what kind of hazard you’re looking at.

EWG’s Cosmetics Database

4. (Safely) Dispose of This: Toxic Cookware

Have you gotten rid of your Teflon pans yet? Seriously, guys. I am not kidding. This is some scary stuff. Here’s a quick description of just one of the ingredients in the toxic soup of non-stick cookware:

“Perfluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA), an ingredient of Teflon and also known as ‘C-8’, is a suspected carcinogen now found in humans, other animals and plants in the US, Europe and Asia. PFOA is very persistent. Released into the environment it looks as if it will take figuratively millions of years to biodegrade. The company ‘3M’ (which once manufactured PFOA) found that it took 4.4 years for just half of it to be excreted from workers’ bodies.”(Source).

Luckily, there are tons of safer options available and they don’t need to be expensive. Check out my guide to healthy cookware options here.

5. Learn How to Cook

Superfood Broth

One of our biggest sources of environmental toxins comes from the foods we eat (including canned soup that’s been stamped with a pink ribbon). What’s the easiest way to avoid processed food, pesticides and other cancer-causing junk? Make it from scratch!

Next time you’re craving cookies, don’t go to the convenience store — make these Raw Oreos instead.

Want to make a treat for the kiddos? Forget processed marshmallows — these Crispy Rice Squares are all you need.

Hoping for some comfort food after a long day? Nothing but goodness in this Shepherd’s Pie.

My archives are filled with whole foods recipes that are just waiting for you to cook them up.

6. Fight Pinkwashing!

As more and more brands start slapping pink ribbons on their products in the name of breast cancer research, people are thinking and talking and writing more about pinkwashing. There have been some amazing posts online asking questions about just how much money is going towards cancer research — not to mention the awfulness of carcinogenic products being sold as breast-cancer fighting. I would encourage you to read these articles and share them with your networks if you find them interesting.

Here’s just a few:

Let’s keep fighting for a solution to breast cancer. But let’s fight pinkwashing, too.

One response to “Breast Health: So What Do We Do Now?”

  1. T says:

    Corporate giving and corporate partnerships come with a cost, some organizations have made the decision that the funds (benefit) outweigh any possible effects or even contradictions from what we know about environmental carcinogens (costs). Corporations are meant to make a profit and any pink ribbon campaign product will ultimately split revenue between a charity and its stakeholders. Donate directly to research and demand a return on your investment!

    I have read Pink Ribbons Inc. and it is quite worrisome.

    But what I hope the true takeaway from both posts is PREVENTION. Educating ourselves on what we consume and slater on our bodies is so important to mitigate risk and frankly, without the help of science we wouldn’t be able to measure just how great that risk is.

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