Week Three: Cancer free products

I fear I am about to descend into a rant. For that, I apologize.

This a start of another new Lenten week here at (Mis)Adventures. That means a whole new area of my life to examine and revamp. This week I am looking at my lifestyle. This means the products we use, the places we live and work and the air we breathe.

Already today I have gone on a wild goose chase looking for an environmentally friendly, non-toxic personal care product. I fear, at this point, I will scare off my male readers but I will try to skim over the details for fear of making them blush. I found myself in need to some ‘monthly supplies’ – I’m sure you all get the inference. I am, quite frankly, disgusted at the products available. I went into two main stream grocery/drug stores and all they had were the big national products fill of plastic, perfumes and rayon. All things not good for either the body or the environment. The Superstore was the only mainstream location where I was able to find something ever remotely environmentally responsible… and even they only carry one brand. I was in England in the fall and one grocery store carried three different brands and they were less than half the price I would pay in Canada. I find it absolutely ridiculous that there are so few even remotely environmentally friendly options on the market.

***okay, rant done, men – you can come back now, I am done ranting about ‘monthly products’***

This illustrates a larger problem. Good, non-harmful, personal care products are hard to find. Stores are getting better. They are carrying more options for environmentally friendly cleaners but when it comes to shampoo, body wash and the like, there are still very limited options. Yet, the brands we find most commonly on the shelves are actually harmful to ourselves and our environment.

Here are just two examples of harmful but common ingredients:

  • Parabems: This is a preservative commonly found in deodorants and many soaps and shampoos. Traces of this chemical has been found in the tissue taken from cancerous breast tumours. The cosmetics industry insists parabems are safe but there is some belief that parabems mimic the female hormone oestrogen, which drives the growth of breast tumours. It has also been found in breast milk. Another study found evidence they influenced the development of malignant melanoma. The evidence is by no means conclusive. There have been no studies looking at long-term exposure but the evidence is enough to me me sit up and take notice (try this link for more information). Parabems are also bad for the environment. They run through your shower drain into the ecosystem, wreaking havoc with animal hormones. Thankfully there are more shampoos hitting the market that are labelled parabem-free but they are still very much in the minority, and finding a good body wash or deodorant without it can be tough.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphates (SLS): This is the stuff that makes your shampoo or toothpaste or cleanser foamy. It is not a carcinogen but that doesn’t mean it is good for you either. It has been shown to stay in residual levels (after absorption through the skin) in the liver, heart, brain and lungs. There is some evidence that is has a detrimental effect on the immune system. It has been shown to increase the frequency of canker sores. SLS is still considered to be safe for use, though it is a known skin irritant. It is also bad for the environment as there is evidence is it toxic to fresh water fish and it does not break down well in the environment. There was a rumour going around the Internet saying it causes cancer but that has largely been debunked.

It leaves the health conscious consumer in a tough spot… a lot of the so-called natural products don’t work very well (though many do) and some that make those claims still have harmful ingredients. Can anyone recommend good, safe products?

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3 Responses to Week Three: Cancer free products

  1. dawna says:

    um, go with the diva cup instead of buying 'monthly products'… it's even reasonably priced, considering you'll likely only ever buy one in your lifetime. it's definitely environmentally responsible, plus, i think you'll find you become more in tune with your body and its cycles…i use tom's toothpaste which is natural and flouride free but i've just discovered it has SLS. :(as you know i don't use 'normal' shampoo but shel has the live clean brand and it is SLS free… not sure about the parabems though.

  2. Atlantic Writer says:

    Live Clean is parabem free – that's one of the few good products I have found.I just discovered Tom's has SLS (that's what the kids use) but apparently there is an SLS free line, the challenge will be whether it is available locally.

  3. Barb Davy says:

    Fuzzibunz makes really good pads. You can order them online from The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe http://www.extraordinarybabyshoppe.com. I don't think they are listed on the site, but they are available if you send an email or call the store. You can order the diva cup and luna pads there too, plus loads of other environmentally friendly and non-toxic personal care products for babies and kids. It's a Canadian company based in Ottawa.

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