October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a perfect opportunity to raise awareness and support the search for a cure. After all, breast cancer affects 1 in 8 women in America. This year, however, we urge you to look beyond the pink ribbons toward prevention as well.

The most recent scientific research shows that exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals may cause an increased risk of breast cancer. These chemicals are called endocrine disruptors, and they interfere with our immune, reproductive, developmental, and neurological systems. Unfortunately, they are found in everything from our makeup and shampoo to our food and furniture.

We can’t control everything around us, but we can control the products we use and what we put on our bodies. The average woman puts over 500 chemicals on her body everyday as part of her regular beauty routine.

This month, participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month by choosing safer personal care products and learning to read labels. You can also help raise awareness among family and friends about the chemicals found in everyday products and their links to cancer.

Protect Our Breasts, a nonprofit communication initiative, is spreading the word about chemical safety and breast cancer. They are active on college campuses because the newest research shows that, although breast cancer may be diagnosed later in life, we are most sensitive to toxins at earlier points in our life:

“For many years it was believed that the risks of harmful chemicals were directly proportional to the amount of exposure. But scientists now know that the timing, duration, and pattern of exposure are at least as important as the dose. Exposure to environmental toxins during critical windows of susceptibility (puberty, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause) may increase the likelihood of breast cancer developing.”

How to Choose Safe Beauty Products

The Breast Cancer Fund’s mission is to “expose and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer.” Here is some advice, based on the fund’s recommendations, for how to choose safe, non-toxic beauty products:

1. Use fewer products and choose products with simpler ingredients.

Try to do more with less to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals. I’ve been using only coconut oil as a full-body moisturizer for years, and it works better than any store-bought lotion I’ve used before. Detox the rest of your beauty routine with 3rd Rock Sunblock (America’s Safest Sunscreen), All-Natural Deodorant, and Simply Olive Oil soap.

2. Avoid anything with “fragrance” as an ingredient.

This generic term usually means hormone-disrupting phthalates.

3. Know your organic labels.

A USDA-certified organic seal means a product is at least 95% organic. “Organic ingredients” or “natural ingredients” doesn’t mean much at all.

4. Whip up some DIY beauty products. 

If you really want to be sure about what’s in your products, then make them yourself! It’s safer and cheaper. Try this DIY Honey Face Mask made with honey, lemon, and avocado.

Avoid These Toxic and Carcinogenic Chemicals

toxic makeup cosmetics

Steer clear of these toxins and hormone disruptors in your beauty and personal care products. Some of the biggest threats are illustrated in the above WorldLifestyle infographic.

  • DMDM hydrantoin and imidazolidinyl urea (toxic contaminants)
  • Fragrance and dyes (allergies, cancer, nervous system)
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone and Methylisothiazolinone (allergies)
  • Parabens or “-paraben” (hormone effects)
  • “PEG” and “-eth” (toxic contaminants)
  • Sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate (skin damage, toxic contaminants)
  • Triclosan and triclocarban (thyroid and environmental concerns)
  • Triethanolamine (TEA) (allergies, toxic contaminants)

*Dermatologist tested does not mean dermatologist approved.

Feature Image Credit:  (CC) Jacinta Lluch Valero

Naomi Imatome-Yun is a food, wellness, and lifestyle editor. Her work appears in USA Today, Yahoo, and Dining Out. She is the author of Cooking with Gochujang: Asia’s Original Hot Sauce and is a food expert for About.com. Naomi lives in Santa Monica and spends her days running, reading, playing beach volleyball, doing yoga, wandering through sculpture parks, and dancing around with her husband and sons.

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