We can’t address and end the breast cancer crisis without ending our involuntary exposures to harmful chemicals that may increase our risk for the disease.
Many of our everyday products have chemicals like parabens, phthalates, PFAS, and other chemicals that are possibly carcinogenic, interfere with normal hormone function, and/or alter mammary gland development. In order to stop cancer before it starts, we must go upstream: we must shift responsibility from consumers to the industries using these harmful chemicals in their formulas.
In fact, BCAction became the first breast cancer organization to identify parabens and phthalates as a source of concern for breast cancer in 2003.
While phthalates are banned for use in cosmetics in the European Union, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently require testing or approval of cosmetic products prior to entering the market. Consequently, phthalates and other harmful ingredients are regarded as safe for use in cosmetics formulas in the United States.
All U.S. cosmetics and personal care products are required to list their ingredients in order of their relative quantity, with the most frequently used ingredient listed first. However, any ingredients used in fragrances or mixtures are considered trade secrets and are exempt from these requirements. Phthalates are frequent components of fragrances, which often contain dozens of chemicals. The entire mixture simply appears as “fragrance” on the ingredient list. Thus, a product may include phthalates that are not listed on its label.
This fragrance and trade secret loophole gives consumers little power to avoid phthalates when purchasing their personal care products. Consumers should e-mail or call the company to ask whether their products contain phthalates. After extensive research, BCA was able to compile a list of some natural cosmetic companies that make products without phthalates, but it is not an exhaustive list of phthalates-free companies.
Want to know if your products contain phthalates? Here are some steps to take:
At BCAction we know that large-scale, systemic change is how to address and end the breast cancer crisis, not individual acts of risk reduction.
As the breast cancer industry watchdog, our work is guided by a precautionary approach to public health, the Precautionary Principle, and we work towards true primary prevention of breast cancer. We hold accountable individual corporations, the entire cosmetics industry, and the regulatory agencies whose job it is to protect our health. We have called out industries such as the beauty industry, cleaning product industry, and plastics industry for their use of phthalates, and we’ve supported state and federal legislation to make personal care products safe.
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