Breast Cancer Awareness

Think before you pink

Is the beauty industry sugar-coating the horror of breast cancer with that bright pink ribbon asks The Organic Pharmacy Founder Margo Marrone…

“October breast cancer awareness month is upon us again but it’s about time we stopped to have a proper think what that really means, what we can do about it and literally the bottom-line – how parts of the beauty industry (and other industries for that matter) are using breast cancer awareness for their own gain without careful consideration of the ingredients they use.

To me and many others, from oncologists to breast cancer survivors, breast cancer is more than a sweet little pink ribbon stuck on product after product. It’s more than dolled-up models and celebrities attending glamorous events wearing the latest pink designer dress – which is more often about turning the spotlight on themselves and product-placement/selling rather than on heart of the issue. Breast cancer is not pretty and it’s not glamorous. It is ugly and terrible and claims a heartbreaking number of mothers, wives, sisters and daughters worldwide. It’s vital that we all do what we can to help prevent this awful condition but while fundraising is an excellent thing to do, is the beauty industry for one, missing the point? Surely our collective goal should also be preventative rather than profiteering. Altruism rather than advertising?

I am not being cynical for the sake of it here. A few years ago I was introduced to the film Pink Ribbon Inc, a documentary made by Lea Pool which sheds light on the pink ribbon campaign, a murkier scenario than I realised, with Pool questioning the marketing behind it.

Please do watch it:traler pink

Most brands are pledging donations from products containing ingredients that might contribute to our oestrogenic burden. This statement has been voiced by many a medical expert. Which is why at The Organic Pharmacy we have always committed ourselves to supporting No More Breast Cancer. This charity campaigns to investigate the serious link between breast cancer and everyday exposure to toxins, including the toxic overload from personal care and beauty products, as well as the chemicals and pollutants that are affecting us via our cleaning products, air pollution, tap water and food.

To me, it makes perfect sense to choose beauty products that are not overloaded with potentially harmful chemicals and other substances. Just as we scrutinise food packaging to make sure we are not ingesting unnecessary nasties, so we should apply the same level of vigilance to our beauty regime and skincare. Our personal and professional ethos is always to use only natural ingredients and one reason for this is that up to 60% of what you put on your face or your body can be absorbed into your bloodstream via the skin – the body’s largest organ – in just 30 seconds. Call us organic nutritious superfoods for your face and body, if you like!

Yet many leading beauty brands contain a cocktail of chemicals with potentially harmful consequences for our health, including possible carcinogenic (cancer-causing) properties. In fact in the USA, a study (1) found that women use an average of 12 personal care/cosmetic products a day, clocking up 168 chemical ingredients. Of particular concern are a group of chemicals called EDFs, which mimic oestrogen in the body. These interfere with oestrogen levels in the body and may lead to changes in breast tissue (similar to those caused by oestrogens), which have been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (2). Click here to see the main ones to avoid including parabens, phthalates, synthetic musks etc.

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At The Organic Pharmacy, our intentions are to improve health and boost beauty, naturally. We believe that it’s best to err on the sides of caution, honesty and transparency, which is why we choose to support No More Breast Cancer. We invite you to join us to take seriously the link between breast cancer and everyday exposure to toxins. It’s taking direct, educational and preventative action.

A few years ago I was also fortunate to hear Philipa D’Abre, the pioneer oncologist at Reading University, speak about the dangers of parabens and other toxic ingredients that go into our toiletries and the evidence behind it. She was kind enough to allow me to video her presentation to share with the world. I have much respect and thanks for her work and her principles that I share with you here.


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Ultimately, there is a lot we feel we cannot control when it comes to breast cancer, but what we can control is how we view it, talk about it, help people through it but most importantly,  in the long run, how we can start to remove as many toxic ingredients from our lives from TODAY on. Whilst it doesn’t guarantee a cancer-free life, reducing our risk has to be the way forward… not buying a product full of nasties because it’s got a pink ribbon on it! Because who really benefits from that?

Founder, Margo Marrone




EWG (2015). Why This Matters – Cosmetics and Your Health. Washington, DC: Environmental Working Group (2015).  [Accessed June 2, 2015]
Darbre, P. D. and Charles, A. K. (2010). Environmental Oestrogens and Breast Cancer: Evidence for Combined Involvement of Dietary, Household and Cosmetic Xenoestrogens. Anticancer Research 30: 815-828.

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