By Claire Fergusson, Grade 10
North Americans consume the most out of all other places in the world. You name it; we’ve bought it. Many of us live relatively comfortable lives, surrounding ourselves with stuff and constantly reinventing things to make our lives appear “happier.” Many of us succumb to the ideal that the more you buy, the more you have; only a few understand that the more you buy, the easier it is to neglect the values that make life worthy and meaningful. Cosmetics are a part of that ideal. Products that we use on our faces make us feel safer. Make-up has become a part of our daily routine, yet we fail to realize that it is eating us from the inside out—in more ways than one.
The Environmental Working Group (EMG) found that over 80% of the cosmetics tested contain toxins linked to cancer. The products that we depend on pose health risks to our future. EMG also found that 1 in 13 women and 1 in 23 men are exposed to carcinogen-linked health products each day. What it means is that more than 1.3 million women and over 700, 000 men in Canada alone are facing a heightened risk of cancer development.
In the past few years, the average age at which human beings are diagnosed with cancer has become younger. What was once found in only the older generation is now being discovered in children. The fact that cancer is being diagnosed in children points largely towards the toxins surrounding us on a daily basis. As a result, we continually invest more money into cancer research. This is somewhat beneficial, because it prompts a demand for effective treatments. As a result, patients may undergo less painful procedures; if caught early enough, there are a number of treatment options for people diagnosed with cancer. However, in many cases, we need to take a detailed look back at our history and work to create a long-term solution from there. We should be proactive as opposed to reactive, but so far we have failed to remember that the only way to gain foresight into the future is through our insight into the past.
Many consumers are surprised to find out that products in North American stores do not have to be tested before shelved. Manufacturers can sell almost anything they want, and it is up to the consumers to find out what is in them. Common offenders are products marked with “fragrance.” These “fragrances” are a short form for synthetic fragrances, which are man-made, and contain phthalates that, according to the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, is associated with endocrine system disruption. Parabens, which are linked to the development of breast tumours, are commonly used in products such as shaving cream and shampoo for product preservation and prevention of bacteria growth. These are just a few poisons that we, as human beings, have subjected ourselves to on a daily basis.
The marketing world is something that many consumers do not understand. We become caught up in it, and that is exactly what manufacturers want. They want us to buy without questioning; they thrive on the compulsive buying caused by their product marketing. So much information ceases to reach the public eye, yet that information could tell us what really puts our lives at risk. The public should know what they are consuming and understand the risks that exist in using certain products. Unfortunately, many of us do the opposite, and our well-being suffers as a result.
Rysavy, T. F. (2005, May/June). The Ugly Side of Cosmetics. Green America. Retrieved from http://www.greenamerica.org/livinggreen/cosmetics.cfm
Johnson, E. (2003, January 28). Cosmetics and the cancer connection. CBC Marketplace. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/pre-2007/files/health/cosmetics/index.html
Wikipedia contributors. (2012, February 15). Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Canada&oldid=478334409
Teich, M. (2008, October). Beauty and the breast: Carcinogens in cosmetics. Mother Nature Network. Retrieved from http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/beauty-and-the-breast-carcinogens-in-cosmetics