Breast Cancer Fund: Stopping the Disease Before It Starts

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Breast Cancer Fund: Stopping the Disease Before It Starts

Hayley Matthews Hayley Matthews • 5/13/16

The 411: For the past 23 years, Breast Cancer Fund has been a national organization focused on eliminating exposure to radiation and harmful chemicals that are linked to this disease.

Whether it’s switching from plastic water bottles to metal, eating organic produce or using pesticide-free cosmetics, there are small steps we can all take every day to reduce our chances of breast cancer, and Breast Cancer Fund is there to help.

Breast Cancer Fund: Stopping the Disease Before It Starts

Breast Cancer Fund strives to eliminate toxic chemicals from the products people use every day.

As a national organization, Breast Cancer Fund strives to eliminate toxic chemicals from the products people use on a daily basis and challenge the laws that govern the chemicals in those products.

Founded in 1992 by Andrea Martin, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, and now led by President and CEO Jeanne Rizzo, Breast Cancer Fund works to create a world where:

  1. People don’t have to fear losing their breasts or lives due to what they’ve eaten, touched or breathed.
  2. Safe detection is the norm, treatment is available for all and most breast cancer can be prevented.
  3. The public is informed about what is in their products and holds government and businesses accountable.
  4. “Public policy is guided by the principle that credible evidence of harm rather than proof of harm is sufficient to mandate policy changes in the public’s best interest.”
  5. Women who are struggling with the disease receive the justice they deserve.

“Through those 20 years, we’ve really refined our mission, and what sets us apart from other breast cancer organizations is we’re really focused on prevention,” said Ena Do, Director of Marketing and Communications. “When we talk about prevention, we’re talking about eliminating toxic exposures that are linked to breast cancer.”

Educate, advocate, celebrate

Breast Cancer Fund is an organization that focuses on using scientific evidence to prevent the disease before it even starts.

Every day we are exposed to harmful chemicals, from a variety of sources, that can increase our risk of breast cancer, but the team at Breast Cancer Fund doesn’t want to scare people. They want people to take control of their health and learn more about these chemicals so they can reduce that risk.

They do this in three ways:

  1. Educating consumers to make better choices and reduce exposure
  2. Advocating for safer products and work environments and better legislation by working with policymakers and retailers
  3. Celebrating successes by organizing activities that empower those touched by breast cancer
Educate, advocate, celebrate

Breast Cancer Fund challenges retailers to make beauty, cleaning and other products safer for consumers.

Perhaps some of the Breast Cancer Fund’s biggest victories have come at the state and federal level, where they mobilize legislators and consumers to make products safer for everyone, including:

  • 2008 to 2009: They led an effort to pass a ban on six phthalates in children’s toys and childcare articles.
  • 2011: Major companies like L’Oreal either phased out the use of triclosan, a toxic pesticide, in their cosmetics and personal care products or implemented new policies.
  • 2012: Johnson & Johnson, makers of Aveeno and Neutrogena, announced it will remove carcinogens and other toxic chemicals from its baby and adult products in the 57 countries it serves.
  • 2013: Walmart targeted as many as 10 toxic chemicals for removal from its products, including national and store-brand cosmetics, personal and beauty products, and household cleaners.
  • 2014: Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Flame Retardant Labeling Bill, which requires manufacturers to include a label disclosing the presence of any flame retardant chemicals in residential furniture.

“We’re the only organization in the environmental health space that’s really focused on breast cancer, and we’re a leading organization in the breast cancer space that’s really focused on the prevention of these everyday, low-dose chemicals that are linked to breast cancer,” Do said. “We’re really proud of the science we bring and the evidence we bring that helps move legislators and policy forward.”

How you can make a change 

Here are some helpful tips to reduce your exposure every day.:

How you can make a change

Limit your consumption of canned foods until BPA-based linings are replaced.

  • Avoid synthetic fragrances.
  • Choose personal care and household cleaning products that fully disclose all ingredients.
  • When shopping for produce, go fresh, organic and hormone-free when possible.
  • Limit your consumption of canned foods until companies replace BPA-based linings with safer alternatives.
  • Reduce your use of plastic. Instead, go with metal or glass.

“Tackle what feels appropriate for you. You don’t have to take on 20 things,” Do said. “Pick one thing that you can tackle, and really take that to heart rather than feeling like there are 50 things that you need to change tomorrow.”

Thinking beyond pink

Breast Cancer Fund may be a small organization, but it’s a powerful one with a big voice that’s encouraging people to never give up the fight.

Thinking beyond pink

Breast Cancer Fund CEO, Jeanne Rizzo

“We celebrate every victory, but as long as there is still one in eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer, we still have work to do,” Do said.

“We’re working for a world beyond pink ribbons, beyond awareness,” Rizzo added. “It’s a world where far more research dollars go into how to prevent breast cancer and where lawmakers and companies ensure the products we use every day don’t contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer. It’s a world where fewer women — or men — ever have to hear the dreaded words, ‘You have breast cancer.’”

So if you’re ready to join the movement to prevent breast cancer, visit www.breastcancerfund.org or safecosmetics.org.