Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Au Naturel

A wonderful woman I know passed away earlier this year from breast cancer; I've recently been lighting a candle she gave me last fall and thinking of her. In her honor and because it is "Breast Cancer Awareness Month", instead of a breast cancer awareness post full of pinkwashing*, I wanted to briefly mention three ways you can reduce your risk of breast cancer that aren't often discussed. If you can't or don't want to try to do one or more of theses things, you can still help reduce breast cancer risk in your friends and relatives by supporting them if they do choose to do these things. After a short blurb about each idea, I'll post a few links discussing breast cancer and the activity in question. Some of these are controversial, but the evidence has convinced me. I'll let you read for yourself though!

Pink Ribbon Chocolates by Wish Upon a Cupcake via Flickr Creative Commons
Avoid Parabens
Parabens are chemicals that are used in an alarming number of skin products. Many commonly-used toiletries contain them, and they've been found in almost all tissue samples taken from cancerous breasts. Check the lotions, sunscreen, and makeup you use and try to use paraben free ones whenever possible, and buy paraben-free toiletries for friends and relatives if you are buying lotion etc as Christmas presents. Also, consider switching to a paraben-free deodorant or deodorant alternative (like rock crystals).

Huffington Post
USA Today

There is a large body of research showing that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer, and that in general, the longer you breastfeed, the more you reduce your risk! If you are a woman planning to have children/more children, try to breastfeed if you can, even if you need to supplement also, and support friends and relatives who breastfeed and in particular those who practice "extended nursing"-nursing beyond the norm for our society and mothers who nurse in public. Many mamas face a great deal of criticism for breastfeeding practices that are healthy for the baby and reduce their breast cancer risk but make others feel uncomfortable because they are not used to it.You can help these women feel supported in their right to choose when and where and for how long to nurse with a simple smile or supportive word!

National Institute of Health

Avoid  Hormonal Contraceptives
"The Pill" is considered by most reputable health organizations to be a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Natural Family Planning/fertility awareness methods and barrier methods are all alternatives that avoid the risk of carcinogens, along with the other health risks of hormonal contraceptives! (Many people who are not opposed to contraception for religious reasons use a combination of both fertility awareness and barrier methods.) Research NFP/FAM online or with the help of library books, and/or be encouraging to your friends and relatives who are interested in or already practice these methods.
Dance of Love by KJunstorm via Flickr Creative Commons
World Health Organization (see page 5)

*"Pinkwashing" refers to the pink merchandise you are probably noticing in stores across the country right now, including products that promote unhealthy lifestyles that would ultimately increase your lifetime cancer risk, and of which only a very small portion of the proceeds go to "cancer research and awareness." Check out Think Before You Pink for more information on pinkwashing.

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