Breast Toxins in the Bathroom
This section is adapted from my upcoming book, Home Detox (Storey, 2023)
There are many sources of breast carcinogens in the average bathroom. Take your time to carefully go through all of your drawers and cabinets to remove all risky items from this room.
Fresheners and deodorizers are among the worst indoor air pollutants we bring into our homes. Whether they are sprayed from a bottle, emitted from a plug-in, sprinkled onto a carpet, or burned by candles and incense, they release chemicals in a vaporized form that we then inhale through our lungs, ingest through our mouth, and absorb through our skin. They emit formaldehyde, including xylene, aldehydes, benzene, esters, phthalates, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they trigger hormone changes.
Use a few drops of a fresh-smelling essential oil, such as bergamot, citrus, lavender, or ylang ylang, to add natural nontoxic fragrance to your home.
These products release aldehydes, dyes, phthalates, parabens, and extremely toxic solvents, including benzene, into bathwater. Aldehydes have been linked to autism spectrum disorders and benzene to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Create a relaxing bath fragrance with a few drops of essential oil. Add Epsom salts for relaxation; we absorb magnesium from them as we soak, which reduces anxiety and tension.
Cosmetics and Skin Care Products
We apply cosmetics and skin care products to some of the most sensitive and permeable parts of our bodies, so they have a direct effect on our health. The average woman puts 515 synthetic chemicals on her body every single day! Parabens, which are in 20 percent of all personal care products, are EDCs and should be avoided by those with hormones sensitive cancer types.
Look for plant- and mineral-based ingredients. Replace toxic cosmetic and skin care products with natural products. Check the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic database, Skin Deep, for help in finding nontoxic products (see Resources).
Mascara is one of the most toxic cosmetics, with aluminum powder, coal tar dyes, formaldehyde, lead, mercury, parabens, synthetic dyes, and thimerosal (mercury-based preservative). Mascara also sheds particles that can irritate eye tissue and the corneas and cause sties and cysts. Look for mineral-based mascara packaged in glass rather than plastic, and with clean ingredients like activated charcoal, aloe vera, bentonite clay, and vitamin E.
Shampoo and Conditioner
Shampoos contain a long list of ingredients, many of which are not good for us. Most have synthetic fragrances, dioxane, and phthalates. Some contain neurotoxic diethanolamine. Many contain parabens, which are easily absorbed through the skin in those few minutes while we’re washing our hair. Parabens are endocrine disrupters that affect hormones, fertility, and thyroid function. Studies have shown that when we use paraben products on our skin, they show up in breast milk and urine, proving that significant absorption is happening right through the skin.
Buy more natural shampoo. You can often find good-quality, all-natural, liquid shampoo sold in bulk at co-ops and natural foods stores. Bring your own bottle to fill up and reuse. Solid shampoo bars are also a great option, and they usually come in paper packaging, not plastic.
Lipstick and Balm
Lip balms often have a vast array of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, including parabens. Lipstick is even riskier; many commercial brands contain cadmium, lead, parabens, and phthalates.
Beeswax-based versions with plant-based tints; are generally cleaner. Look for lip balms made with edible ingredients in nonplastic packaging, such as paper tubes.
Deodorant and Antiperspirant
Deodorant and antiperspirant products contain a long list of toxins that are absorbed into the skin. The most common and concerning include aluminum, diethanolamine, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, triclosan, and triethanolamine.
Look for deodorants with plant-based or natural ingredients such as baking soda and charcoal, which sorb to microbes. I search for those with sustainable packagings, such as paper tubes or glass containers.
Lotions are rife with synthetic chemicals, including diethanolamine, hydantoins, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, triclosan, and triethanolamine.
Pure plant oil, such as shea, jojoba, or coconut oil. If you buy lotions, look for paraben-free products that contain only recognizable ingredients, like coconut oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E.
Many sunscreens contain chemicals that are toxic such as oxybenzone and octinoxate, alkylphenols, ethanolamine, glycol ethers, parabens, phthalates, and triclosan. These toxin-filled sunscreens are unnecessary because mineral-based products are safe and readily available and work well.
Look for micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and products packaged in glass or cardboard tubes. And when it comes down to it, a hat is the best protection for your face.
Menstrual Care Products
Toxins found in major brands include dioxins (carcinogenic), carbon disulfide (reproductive toxicant), hexane (neurotoxin), methylene chloride (carcinogen), toluene (reproductive toxicant), phthalates (endocrine disruptor), pesticides, bleach, and xylene (neurotoxin, reproductive toxicant). Dioxins are a group of highly toxic chemical compounds that are associated with damage to the reproductive and immune systems. These products come in contact with some of the most sensitive and absorbent tissue in the body.
Washable and reusable organic menstrual pads, liners, and superabsorbent underwear, 100 percent organic cotton, nonchlorine, rayon-free, fragrance-free, and plastic-free tampons and pads, and the reusable nontoxic silicone cup.
Common toothpastes sold in plastic tubes have many questionable ingredients, including artificial sweeteners, diethanolamine, fluoride, microplastics, polyethylene, propylene glycol, and salicylate (aspirin). Avoid these chemical pastes, especially those with fluoride. Although fluoride calcifies and hardens teeth, it affects other areas of the body, too. Fluoride exposure can cause calcification of the pineal gland, a tiny organ nestled in the brain. The pineal gland accumulates significant amounts of calcium and fluoride, making it the most fluoride-saturated organ in the human body. Both the calcification and accumulation of fluoride may result in melatonin deficiency, which affects sleep and is a contributing factor to breast cancer development. Calcification of the pineal gland also reduces the organ’s ability to communicate properly with the endocrine system, which can lead to health issues with the thyroid and pancreas.
Brush with a natural toothpaste made from ingredients like baking soda or bentonite clay. Look for chewable toothpaste tablets and powders that come in glass or waxed paper bags or natural versions of toothpaste.
A rinse to freshen the mouth should be simple and clean, but a quick review of popular mouthwash brands reveals a long list of unhealthy ingredients, including ethanol, fluoride, parabens, polyethylene glycol, and synthetic dyes.
Activated charcoal powder is a product sold for use as a tooth polish and mouth freshener. It’s simply finely ground charcoal and applied with a toothbrush. Wet your toothbrush, dip it into the charcoal powder, and then brush your teeth, gums, and tongue. The charcoal particles attach to bacteria and fungi and turn all hidden microbes black. Any bacteria caught in plaque along the gum line can be seen easily as black areas against white teeth, which helps guide your brushing to areas of bacterial growth that might otherwise be missed. Charcoal also absorbs live and dead microbes like a sponge so they can be rinsed out, which helps freshen the mouth. Probiotics for the gums and teeth can also help reduce pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, freshen breath, reduce inflammation in the gums, and reduce gum recession.
Dental floss seems harmless, but many brands have the same toxic stuff that is used in Teflon: polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These compounds are used to help floss slip easily between teeth. Floss is also often coated in plastics, which leave phthalate residue in your teeth. On top of that, floss often contains formaldehyde, parabens, and synthetic fragrances.
Look for a natural brand made of cotton yarn or silk that is coated with plant-based wax, and packaged in glass or paperboard rather than plastic.
Toothbrushes should have soft bristles that are long enough to reach under the gums to remove food and bacteria. Up until recently, we have accepted plastic toothbrushes as the norm. But they are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), bisphenol A (BPA), numerous phthalates, polyethylene, and triclosan, so they are inherently toxic.
Bamboo toothbrushes with long soft bristles are one of our best options today.
One study found that over the course of 28 days, a new plastic shower curtain releases 108 different VOCs. Over the course of its life, shower curtain vinyl emits toxins that cause inflammation and fatigue. If the curtain isn’t cleaned regularly, mold grows along the bottom and in the folds, and then the mold breaks down the plastic faster, releasing more phthalates into the air.
Organic cotton or linen shower curtain.
Memory Foam Bathmats
Synthetic memory foam contains mostly polyurethane, which off-gasses, filling the air with VOCs, heavy metals, toxic acids, ethers, and solvents.
Rather than a memory foam bathmat, try a 100 percent organic cotton rug or bamboo bathmat, both of which can be tossed in the washing machine and washed with hot water and a few drops of tea tree essential oil to disinfect.
Many inexpensive towels are now made of synthetic materials that release phthalates and polyester.
Natural materials such as 100 percent organic cotton, linen towels, bamboo, or hemp.
Bathroom Summary Checklist
O Remove toxins from your bathroom