As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As companies don pink ribbons on everything and pinkwash consumers, the Breast Cancer Fund proposes we change the purpose of the month from awareness to prevention. They have just released the sixth edition of State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment.
Specifically the report exposes evidence that breast cancer is linked to chemical and radiation exposure, such as “synthetic hormones in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and meat; pesticides in food; solvents in household cleaning products; BPA in food containers; flame retardants in furniture; and radiation from medical treatments”.
State of the Evidence: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment 2010 provides scientific evidence examining factors that affect vulnerable populations who are exposed to toxic chemicals:
- Timing of exposures, especially at early stages of an individual’s development;
- Low-dose exposures at environmentally significant levels, again especially in early development;
- Real-life mixtures of exposures; and
- The complexity of interactions between environmental and other risk factors for breast cancer.
This report is very extensive (you should read it!). From examining mortality rates for different ethnicities to changes in the ages girls now menstruate, the complexity of breast cancer is not to be underscored by a pink ribbon. It’s not all genetics. From BPA to sunscreens, chemicals are examined and rated in the report whether they are known or suspected to contribute to breast cancers.
80,000 chemicals registered in the US; 1 in 8 women get breast cancer. Connection?
The report concludes with a section on “From Science to Action”, helping individuals make safer choices in products and focus for advocacy.
On a more positive note, public awareness of unsafe chemical exposures has never been higher, with more legislative activity and wins at the state level than ever before, and the growth of thesustainable business community is providing real-time examples of how industry can make safer products and still be profitable. Also heartening are the broad-based coalitions that have come together to advocate for TSCA reform, stronger regulation of the cosmetics industry and getting BPA out of food and beverage containers.
I am fortunate to only know breast cancer survivors. The message this month (and every month) should be about prevention. Removing environmental risks should be a no brainer and a priority for our federal government, communities, and families.