It is hard being a woman in a society that disapproves of aging women and favors straight hair. In fact, coloring and straightening hair is regarded as “professional,” “good grooming,” or “taking care of yourself.” But at what a cost — a new study shows hair dyes and relaxers are significantly associated with breast cancer…especially for black women.
The Journal of Cancer article showed the results of a study that tracked more than 45,000 women over eight years. Black women who regularly used permanent hair dyes had a 60 percent higher chance of developing breast cancer than black women who did not. White women had an 8 percent higher chance.
Women who used chemical hair straighteners were 30 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. While some white women straighten their hair, in the study three quarters of the black women straightened their hair.
If you would like help understanding Hair Dye related to cancer, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
Why the cancer link? The researchers pointed to toxic compounds in hair dyes known as “endocrine disrupters.” This means these compounds mimic hormones and interfere with normal hormone function, thus causing imbalances and an increased risk of cancer.
The chemicals used in products geared towards black women may be more “hormonally active,” according to researchers.
Women are increasingly being encouraged to choose health and longevity over toxic cosmetic options. For instance, a movement is under foot to embrace silver and gray hair and black women are encouraged to embrace their natural hair, with one state so far banning discrimination against black people who wear their hair naturally (many employers discriminate against black women who forgo chemical straightening).
Black women bear the brunt of toxic hair products
Although most commercial women’s hair and body products are laden with toxins, hair products aimed at black women contain a disproportionate amount of chemicals linked with early puberty, obesity, asthma, and cancer.
A 2016 study showed black women’s bodies contained higher burdens of the toxic chemicals found in hair products than in women of other ethnicities.
Researchers have so far identified more than 70 harmful chemicals in relaxers, root stimulators, and anti-frizz products.
Toxins in these products (and in other beauty products in general) have been shown to have the following impacts on health:
- Parabens and phthalates disrupt hormone function and are linked to early puberty and pre-term births.
- Nonylphenol is linked to obesity and cancer.
- Formaldehyde is linked to miscarriage risk and respiratory issues.
- Various compounds irritate the eyes and skin, burn and blister the scalp, damage hair follicles, cause hair loss, and cause respiratory disorders.
- Hair relaxers are linked to uterine fibroids in black girls and women at a rate two to three times higher than in other women. Uterine fibroids affect up to 80 percent of black women during their lifetime.
- Cosmetologists exposed to these products during pregnancy experienced twice the rate of miscarriages.
- Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among black women; they generally have a more aggressive forms of cancer compared to white women.
Just one product alone can contain 30 different toxic chemicals. How these chemicals affect human health when in combination with one another has not been studied.
Toxic hair products could help explain why black women suffer from more endocrine disorders than white or Hispanic women.
While these products harm black women, the Black Women for Wellness Report also points to the complexity and conflict between harmful hair products and the positive role of hair salons in black communities.
Ask my office for advice on how to lower your toxic burden, buffer your body from the effects of toxins in our everyday lives, and improve your overall health and well being.
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Even if you eat all organic, many oat-based foods such as cereal, granola, instant oats, and bars contain glyphosate, the toxic weed-killer in Roundup.
The independent study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) measured levels of glyphosate in 45 samples of products made with conventional oats, and 16 samples made with organically grown oats. The results were shocking.
Thirty one of 45 samples made with conventional oats had 160 ppb or more of glyphosate, higher than what the EWG considers protective of children’s health.
In the organic products, glyphosate was detected at concentrations of 10 ppb to 30 ppb in 5 of 16 samples — well below the EWG health benchmark, but still present.
Organic farming prohibits use of glyphosate, so how does it get in organic food? It could drift on the wind from nearby conventional crop fields or enter by cross-contamination at a facility that handles non-organic crops.
According to the EWG, “The EPA has calculated that 1- to-2-year-old children are likely to have the highest exposure, at a level 2x greater than California’s No Significant Risk Level and 230x EWG’s health benchmark.”
Glyphosate: Not just an herbicide
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the most heavily-used weed killer worldwide. Used widely in the US on at least 70 crops from corn, soy, oats, and wheat, to fruits, nuts and vegetables, the EWG states that more than 250 million pounds of glyphosate is sprayed on American crops yearly.
A systemic herbicide, when applied to the foliage of broadleaf plants, weeds, and grasses, glyphosate is absorbed through the tissues to kill them.
While most of the public knows of Roundup as an herbicide, it is also commonly used in a pre-harvest application called “dessication.” Applied 7 to 10 days before harvest, it has the following effects:
- Acts as a drying agent on crops where uneven drying might risk ruining the harvest.
- During wheat harvest it can result in slightly higher crop yield by triggering plants to release more seeds.
- Pre-harvest application can initiate early harvest if weather conditions threaten the crop.
- Encourages earlier ripening for earlier replanting of a new crop.
- Reduces green material in fields that would otherwise strain farm machinery during harvest.
The “dessication” method was first suggested in the 1980s and has become routine in North America in the past 15 years. It is also catching on widely in the UK.
Most people assume glyphosate and Roundup are used only on GMO products, but it is also sprayed just before harvest on non-GMO oats, barley, wheat, and beans.
If you would like help understanding about the risks of eating oats, you can schedule a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with Dr. Celaya.
While for years glyphosate was thought to be safe, recent studies have pointed to major health concerns from cancer to the disruption of gut bacteria that underlies many chronic illnesses.
While herbicide makers and the EPA deny glyphosate’s dangers, in 2015 the World Health Organization classified it as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
While hundreds of other Roundup-related court cases are pending, in a 2018 landmark case, Monsanto was ordered by a California jury to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, reportedly caused by repeated exposure to Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers in his job as a school groundskeeper.
Cancer not the only concern being researched
In addition to cancer risk, glyphosate also harms our gut bacteria.
Glyphosate also enhances the damaging effects of other chemical toxins in the environment. The effects manifest slowly over time damaging cellular systems throughout the body.
Monsanto claims that Roundup is harmless to animals and humans because its mechanism of action (called the shikimate pathway) is absent in all animals.
However, this pathway is present in bacteria, which is key for understanding how it can cause systemic harm in humans and animals.
Glyphosate disrupts beneficial bacteria thus allowing pathogens such as the highly toxic Clostridium botulinum to overgrow and take over the gut environment.
Disruption of the gut biome is an issue which underlies many diseases and conditions including:
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
In addition to the direct concerns for human health, environmental concerns exist as well:
- Mounting weed resistance to the toxin, requiring stronger and stronger applications.
- Demise of the monarch butterfly population.
- Honey bees exposed to glyphosate lose some of their beneficial gut bacteria and become more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria.
Despite resistance from herbicide producers, glyphosate has been banned or restricted by the following countries:
- Sri Lanka
- El Salvador
- Saudi Arabia
In addition, towns in many states have taken a stand against the chemical.
Organic or not, check your brands
What can you do to reduce the impact of glyphosate for yourself and your family? First, eat organic produce whenever you can. Secondly, look out for the following products from the EWG study and know their risk level:
Potentially dangerous to children:
- Back to Nature Classic Granola
- Quaker Simply Granola Oats, Honey, Raisin and Almonds
- Nature Valley Granola Protein Oats ‘n Honey
- Giant Instant Oatmeal Original Flavor
- Quaker Dinosaur Eggs, Brown Sugar, Instant Oatmeal
- Great Value Original Instant Oatmeal
- Umpqua Oats, Maple Pecan
- Market Pantry Instant Oatmeal, Strawberries & Cream*
- Cheerios Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal
- Lucky Charms (without marshmallows)
- Barbara’s Multigrain Spoonfuls, Original, Cereal
- Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran oat cereal*
- Nature Valley Crunchy Granola Bars, Oats ‘n Honey
- Quaker Steel Cut Oats
- Quaker Old Fashioned Oats
- Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats*
Contains safe amounts of glyphosate:
- Back to Nature Banana Walnut Granola Clusters
- KIND Vanilla, Blueberry Clusters with Flax Seeds
- Kellogg’s Nutrigrain Soft Baked Breakfast Bars, Strawberry
- Nature’s Path Organic Old Fashioned Organic Oats
- Whole Foods Bulk Bin conventional rolled oats
- Bob’s Red Mill Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
Contained no glyphosate in any tests:
- Nature’s Path Organic Honey Almond granola
- Simple Truth Organic Instant Oatmeal, Original
- Kashi Heart to Heart Organic Honey Toasted cereal
- Cascadian Farm Organic Harvest Berry, granola bar
- 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
*This product underwent multiple tests and tested above the dangerous level in one or more and below the dangerous level in one or more.
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