Are Your Manicures Increasing Your Breast Cancer Risk

Photo courtesy of and graur codrin

Are Your Manicures Increasing Your Breast Cancer Risk?

I know this is a touchy subject – we like having beautiful nails and we like this little bit of pampering that we fit into our busy schedules.  It’s nice, it’s relaxing, it’s fun to do with your girlfriend.  But yes – it may be increasing your risk of breast cancer, I’m sorry to tell you.

I sat in on a webinar yesterday held by Breast Cancer Action titled Toxic Cosmetics – Demanding Stronger Regulation.  BCA always has great webinars with well researched and presented material.

Some Maddening Statistics

It was a great webinar, full of interesting (and maddening) statistics about our cosmetics and body products and how they are still full of toxic chemicals.  Here are some of the stats they introduced:

  • Women use an average of 12 body products per day, exposing them to 168 chemicals on a daily basis;
  • 20% of personal care products have carcinogenic ingredients;
  • 22% of personal care products have chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors;
  • 34% of personal care products are known to be toxic to the reproductive system and are especially toxic to our teenaged girls (who tend to use more of these products than adults);
  • In a recent study done with 20 teenaged girls, 16 chemicals were found in all 20 girls – these chemicals were all hormone alterers;
  • Perfume companies are allowed to keep secret what goes into their fragrances – the term “fragrance” hides blends of unknown chemicals which, when analyzed have shown, on average, to contain 14 chemicals that are known hormone disruptors, not assessed for safety;
  • 61% of lipstick brands tested contained lead (Estee Lauder had 5 of the 10 most contaminated ones) – no amount of lead in your system is safe and we’re putting this on our lips, where it can easily be ingested, day after day.

Toxic Manicures

This information was not new to me, I’ve known about the dangers contained within our personal care products for years, but what did surprise me was the information presented about nail polish.  I have been told for years by my natural therapists that we shouldn’t be using nail polish, but I didn’t know that there were up to 450 chemicals in nail polish, 80 of which have been proven to have some degree of harm to the human body.

Here’s an interesting article The Inherent Dangers of Getting One’s Nails Did .  They name the “toxic trio” of chemicals commonly found in nail polish and name the companies who were the worst offenders when the article was written in April, 2012.  They ended the article with a supposedly funny “If you recognize one of these names, stop licking your hands immediately.”  Funny.  But licking isn’t necessary.  Probably the most important thing to understand is that fingernails are absorbent and easily absorb all of those toxic chemicals we’re pouring onto them.

Most men I know don’t get the whole nail polish thing anyway, so we’re clearly not doing this for our men.  They believe that women’s nails are sexiest without anything on them. Healthy nails that are well groomed are shiny, pink, and white and look like a French manicure (without the cost and hassle of a French manicure). But hey – just my opinion.

Before you go for that next manicure, please just check out this list of some of the worst chemicals being put in nail polish:  benzene, benzoyl peroxide, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, glycol ethers, methylene chloride, tolulene.

Never heard of them?  Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep website and plug in a few of those chemicals. For instance, here’s what EWG has to say about benzene.  This chemical has NO BUSINESS being in anything related to our bodies.

Until the cosmetic companies clean up their act, we need to boycott their products.  Hitting them where it hurts is the ONLY thing they’ll pay attention to.  They obviously don’t care about our health.  (Uh oh, she’s on a rant again…)  Companies who promote breast cancer awareness and put pink ribbons all over everything and then continue to put these chemicals in their products that are known to be cancer causing really make me see red (no, not pink).

If this doesn’t make you mad, I don’t know what will.  Breast Cancer Action is actively working towards better regulation of the cosmetic industry (among many other advocacy issues).  They say “all of this points to one clear need: systemic change. This means putting people before profits, whether it is drug development for patients or employing the precautionary principle. This means removing the burden of prevention from the individual and placing it squarely where it belongs: on our society and regulatory systems.”

So I recommend doing 3 things:

1.  Boycott the companies who continue to pour toxic chemicals into their body products.  Here is one that does NOT.

2.  Donate to Breast Cancer Action – they are doing GREAT things for us.

3.  Try naked nails.  They’re sexier!  You can massage in some organic shea butter or almond oil and go au natural.

If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (  It is my honor to help you through this.