How Toxic Is Your Makeup?

01/28/2011 08:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I saw this amazing patient recently. I was doing cataract surgery on her in the same week that she had a mastectomy. This woman was an example of a stellar attitude. She was strong, vital and loved life. She was going to enjoy every moment no matter what, and embraced life in a way all of us could aspire to.

It got me thinking of all the other friends, acquaintances and colleagues that have been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 10 years. I could not help but think that this diagnosis is far too prevalent. When I looked at the stats I found that it truly is more prevalent now than ever. The rate of breast cancer diagnoses has risen steadily from the 1930s to our present day (Jatoi, 2005) and women how have a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of getting breast cancer (Horner, 2009).

I don't think it's all genetics. It seems a lot of it might be environmental. Yet, most of the organizations working on cancer are working to find a cure. Very little of the money donated to breast cancer research goes to finding causes for breast cancer. I am not saying that finding a cure should not be top priority. I just think more attention needs to be paid to the approximately 300,000 toxic chemicals in use today, any of which could potentially lead to breast cancer.

I think society has the mindset that we are never going to get rid of all the toxic substances so let's find a cure. I also think that there is more money to be made in finding cures that finding causes. This is so unfortunate. I think we all must work toward shifting the societal mindset towards prevention and towards phasing out many of the toxic substances still mainstream in household and beauty products.

Many of the things we use every day such as creams, lotions, shampoos and makeup contain ingredients such as parabens and phthalates. Both of these substances have been linked to an increase risk of developing many cancers.

I became interested in how many toxins we are exposed to when I was pregnant. I wanted to do everything possible to give my baby the best start. It frightened me to realize that one of the most popular stretch mark creams sold at the drugstore and advertised in Shape and Fit Pregnancy actually ranked an 8 out 10 in toxicity. This was something I was going to rub on my belly while I was pregnant. When I started digging further I realized many of the products I use could be harming me.

Make sure that you are proactive and take responsibility for your own health and well being. Check the toxicity levels of any products you are using on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This is an excellent resource that will rate most cosmetic products on a toxicity scale of 1 to 10. It is an environmental working group database that is, as far as I can tell, objective and accurate. It is a great free resource to enable all of us to make healthier choices by searching for products with lower levels of toxicity. We have the power to make healthier choices. Let's make sure we exercise our power.