World Cancer Day: a right to better and safer products

By Kate | Events
Posted Feb 4, 2016

For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death. — Rachel Carson, citizen-scientist and author of Silent Spring

The Magnifeco book starts with this quote. If you’re not familiar, Rachel Carson was a biologist and author and is often called the godmother of the environmental movement. It resonated with me because we are in a modern health crisis. Although a lot of focus gets puts on food and watching what we eat to protect our health, less attention is paid to what we put on our skin (our largest organ) and how that affects our health.

Think of everything you put on in your daily ritual: shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, body soap, body lotion, face cream, deodorant –the EWG estimates, on average,  women use 12 products per day, exposing them to 168 different chemicals, most never tested for safety (men use about half). Personal care and beauty products use about 12,000 different chemicals, and nearly 90 percent of them have never been assessed for their impact on long-term health.

That’s before you’ve even gotten dressed. What about your clothing? We are wrapped in textiles throughout our entire lives, from birth until death. What are they made of? Are there chemical residues leftover from production still on your garments? Were they finished with chemicals known to be carcinogenic? Rachel Carson was right to worry, not only can we not secure our homes from toxic chemicals, but we can’t keep unwanted chemicals out of our bodies either.

Today is World Cancer Day and the perfect day to reflect on how your product choices affect your health. And how your consumer power can affect the industry.

Consumers get what I put in my mouth, that organic apple, has a direct impact on my health. But they haven’t got to the point yet what I put on my body impacts me too. — LaRhea Pepper, Organic Farmer Pioneer/Advocate

The good news is that cancer death rates have fallen by almost 10 percent in 10 years. However, cancer rates are still on the rise:

  • 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes. (Medscape)
  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Only about 10 percent of these women carry a gene for the disease. ( On average, every day 67 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 14 will die. (
  • Testicular cancer is the most common cancer among young men between 15 and 29 years old. (The Manscape)
  • Globally, there are an estimated 8.2 million deaths from cancer – 4.7 million in men and 3.5 million in women (

Yes, we need a cure. But we also need better and safer products. #WorldCancerDay #WeCanICan



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