What you can do
Do you know what is in the many different products, toiletries, and cosmetics, that you come into contact with every day? Plastic water carboys on office water coolers, the lining of bottles and food cans, plastic lunch boxes, personal care products, cleaners, cosmetics – many contain chemicals that increase your risk of breast cancer.
The chemicals in them often end up in you. Every day you may be rubbing hormone-disruptors into your skin or eating them in your food and drinks. The good news is that by changing our habits we can significantly reduce our exposure, and the exposure of our families, to these hazardous chemicals.
Our top tips
Protect your health by using products with caution - make sure they are safe and non-toxic. Look for products made with certified organic ingredients and those made using the fewest ingredients. Use fewer products and smaller amounts.
Be especially careful when buying products – particularly food and drinks - for babies and young children as they cannot rid themselves of BPA and other hormone disrupting chemicals as quickly as adults can.
Try to cut some of the following from your daily routine:
- Tinned food and drinks (even water) from plastic bottles, unless they are marked BPA free. Most of these contain Bisphenol A (BPA), which disrupts the hormone system and has been linked to breast cancer.
- Plastic food containers, especially if they are old and never put them in the microwave. They also contain BPA, unless labelled otherwise.
- Fragranced products like washing powder, air fresheners or cleaning products. PVC is added to make them undrinkable so buy fragrance-free.
- Body care products that contain Parabens, Phthalates (DEHP, BBP, DBP, DMP, DEP), DMDM Hydantoin, Fragrance, Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate, DEA (diethanolamine) and TEA (triethanolamine), Formaldehyde, PEGs (polyethylene glycol), and anything with "glycol" or "methyl.
- Anti-bacterial soaps and hand washes. Gentle castile soap and water is as effective as antibacterial soaps and does not contain Triclosan, which disrupts hormones and has been linked to breast cancer.
- Toothpaste that contains Triclosan.
- Cosmetics, some drinks and foods like jams, pie fillings, beers and pickles that contain Parabens, which disrupt the hormones. They are listed on cosmetics but not on food products, so buy paraben free cosmetics and try to avoid pre-prepared products.
Make your own!
Some products are easily replaced with simple ingredients from your kitchen.
Why not use olive, almond, or coconut oil.
Can be substituted with baking soda (if you really want to get back to basics).
To clean extra-greasy ovens, mix together 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of washing soda, then add enough water to make a paste; apply the paste to oven surfaces and let soak overnight. The next morning, lift off soda mixture and grime; rinse surfaces well.
- To disinfect cutting boards, spray with vinegar and then with 3% hydrogen peroxide (available in chemists). Keep the liquids in separate spray bottles and use them one at a time. It does not matter which one you use first, but both together are much more effective than either one alone.
- For a good all-purpose disinfectant, mix 2 teaspoons borax, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 3 to 4 cups hot water in a spray bottle. For extra cleaning power, add 1/4 teaspoon liquid soap to the mixture.
- General dusting is best done with a damp cloth. Try adding 1 teaspoon olive oil per 1/2 cup vinegar. Mix together in a bowl and apply with a soft cloth.
- For windows, put 3 tablespoons vinegar per 1 quart water in a spray bottle. Some recommend using half vinegar and half water. For extra-dirty windows try this: 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap, 3 tablespoons vinegar and 2 cups of water. Shake well. The best way to get streak-free windows? Use newspaper instead of paper towels to wipe them.
Are you being exposed?
Read this handy guide to avoiding toxic chemicals in every-day products: the 'Are you being exposed?' leaflet