One in every nine Black women are expected to develop breast cancer at least once during their lifetime. Rates are so high, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging suggests that our demographic be classified as high risk, for the first time in history. What used to be a tragic, uncommon disease has now become a morbid reality in our community.
Breast cancer has claimed the lives of millions of women over the last few decades and, if we plan to change the narrative, ‘prevention’ needs to become a recurring conversation. Medical professionals can’t tell us exactly what’s to blame, but we can pinpoint a few common suspects. Some may require drastic lifestyle changes while others can be as simple as switching out your deodorant and shampoo. In today’s piece, we’ll run through some of the background, to help you understand the stats, then we’ll discuss the top 5 ways to prevent breast cancer.
The Silent Killer
Behind heart disease, cancer is the leading cause of death in black women. The latest studies from the CDC show that 22% of our women lose their battle with cancer; far greater than diabetes and high blood pressure we commonly discuss at the roundtable.
For generations, black women have been groomed to grow up to be beauty product junkies. We’ve all witnessed crowds of shampoos, lotions, greases, and oils packed into our family’s linen closets or piled under the bathroom sink. Sunday morning services smelled of intoxicating tinctures made from Johnson & Johnson, Vaseline, Pink Moisturizer, and Sulfur8. Continuing the cycle of powdered bosoms and perfumed pantiliners, many of us never realized how many toxins we were piling onto our bodies.
Researchers equate the rate black and white women are diagnosed with breast cancer, but our demographic is up to 43% more likely to die from the disease, according to the Black Women’s Health Imperative. There are a few common assumptions that attempt to justify the disparity, but we have to ask ourselves, “Why our diagnosis and treatment so different?”
On average, most races are diagnosed with the disease somewhere around 61 years old, but the median for black women is 58. This means, we’re much more likely to develop breast cancer at a younger age; even sooner than we’re told to get tested.
We get mammograms later in life, after engaging in generational habits that supply our bodies with toxic ingredients. Late detection places us at higher risk for having what’s known as “triple negative breast cancer”. Because of its aggressiveness, triple negative is treated with simultaneous rounds of chemo, surgery, and radiation. Still, it has the lowest recovery rate.
What Causes Breast Cancer?
While each case is different, Susan G. Komen lists a few factors related to the development of breast cancer. These may include anything from the age of your first menstruation, childbirth, menopause and many other variables. Among all the suspected causes, it is the things we can control – our lifestyle and habits – that we should place the most focus on.
Factors like weight, diet, and environmental factors considerably impact the outcome of your diagnosis. For instance, women who have more than 3 drinks a day increase their risk by 1.5%. Prescriptions like birth control are also common cancer-causing culprits. In fact, any form of hormone-altering treatment or substance multiplies your risk. This includes radiation for unrelated cancers, estrogen therapy, etc.
When properly fueled and cared for, the body is capable of keeping itself in balance. The ebb and flow of the estrogen and progesterone levels in your body respond to the various life cycles you travel. Eating right, drinking, plenty of water, and regular exercise can help keep things on track. Still, millions of women are surprisingly diagnosed, even after doing all of that. The question is – why?
Taking a closer look at possible causes of breast cancer forces us to examine our habits and lifestyle. Those of us who’ve adopted cleaner eating habits treat reading labels like a religion in the grocery store, but few realize that the same due diligence needs to be applied in the beauty aisle.
Harmful parabens are regularly used as preservatives in deodorants and antiperspirants. Studies show that parabens mimic the way estrogen interacts with the body, and they’ve also been found in breast tumors. Medical professionals aren’t prepared to confirm that deodorants may be causing cancer, but the evidence tells a story all its own. Traditional deodorants are designed to block your pores, preventing your body from releasing toxins through your sweat. Just because you get through a day without stains doesn’t mean the toxins have disappeared. They’re reabsorbed and redistributed.
Understanding this makes you view all-natural deodorants from a completely different perspective. More than just an earthy way to reconnect with the environment, our artisans have developed toxin-free alternatives that can help protect you from a lot more than odors and sweat. Here is a list of our top 5 all-natural deodorant brands:
- The Hunny Bunny All-Natural Deodorant Stick utilizes ingredients like baking soda and arrowroot powder, saving you from spreading harmful carcinogens like aluminum onto your body. Offering excellent moisture absorption, the vitamin E and apricot oil in this recipe treats your skin to restorative properties that firm, tone, and prevent you from absorbing damaging UV rays.
2. Activated Charcoal is another all-natural ingredient known for its detoxifying power. The charcoal crème deodorant from PiperWai was developed to create a safe way to deodorize and balance your body’s pH levels. It’s a great option for anyone who has sensitive skin. Free of baking soda, parabens, aluminum, or synthetic fragrances, there’s nothing in this deodorant that should irritate your skin.
3. Cool down with the refreshing sensation of Healing Place Apothecary Deodorant Balm. Made with organic aloe butter, illipe butter, and kaolin clay, the plant-based formula gently soothes the skin under your arms. No irritation, no metals, and no toxins, the only thing you’ll experience is all-natural healing.
4. Continuing our theme of handcrafted healing recipes, Manuka Probiotic Deodorant detoxifies your body from impurities, eliminating free radicals and nasty odors. Completely vegan and baking soda free, you’ll stay fresh with the help of ingredients like organic unrefined shea butter, mango butter, coconut oil, and candelilla wax.
5. Sticks, crème, and balms are just a few ways to apply all-natural deodorant to your body. The natural deodorant spray from Saige + Ivy employs the refreshing properties of tea tree and lemongrass to detox and heal your underarms. Use it as a simple transition from traditional deodorants or as your everyday go-to option.
Why Should You Switch to Natural Deodorants?
Deodorants can contain aluminum, steareths, triclosan (the pesticide that creates chloroform), propylene glycol, BPAs, and carcinogens like TEA and DEA. Ingredients that are banned in countries around the world still find there way onto shelves in our marketplaces.
The fatty tissue in the breast can house these toxins, creating a potentially hazardous combination. When you factor in the way our grandmothers showed us to use our bras like safety deposit boxes, you have to question whether tucked cell phones and miscellaneous items help trigger a chain reaction.
It’s time to break the cycle and start protecting yourself. Start asking your doctor about your breast cancer risk, don’t wait for them to spark the conversation.
- Schedule your first screening no later than 30 years old
- Work to maintain a healthy weight by limiting fatty, salty, sugary, and starchy foods
- Don’t smoke (Too many benefits to list in one blog…)
- Stock up on all-natural bath and body beauty products
- Be aware of common symptoms like pain in armpits or breast, changes in skin on the nipple, discharge, change in breast shape, peeling, flaking, or scaling of the skin
Once it’s allowed to spread, the disease becomes increasingly challenging to overcome. When you consider the risk, small lifestyle changes aren’t an inconvenience. So what if you’ll have to start cooking fresh veggies rather than pop the lid on a can? Maybe you’ll need to toss that PVC shower curtain in the trash.
Taking the petty cash out of your bra (and, on some days, forgoing the bra altogether) are simple adjustments that could save your life – and the lives of your entire family. When you think of it like that, it’s worth the effort.