December 16, 2023

Killing Me Softly?

On The Wire

This week Reuters news service wrote a release about a study presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The study analyzed 16 different topical moisturizers whose ingredient list did not include estrogen, yet when tested many actually did contain the hormone.

This article ran in Scientific America, on Oncolink, Fox News and other major media outlets. It quotes Dr. Adrienne Olson of Breastlink, who conducted the study and strongly urges estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer patients, those on aromatase inhibitors, and anyone wanting to reduce risk of breast cancer to avoid externally administered estrogen. In my own research I discovered information from Cornell University that states: while estrogen is key for reproductive development, over exposure to estrogen throughout a lifetime can also pose some serious breast cancer risks because estrogen affects breast cell division and supports the growth of estrogen-responsive tumors.

Totally Corny
I don’t have breast cancer, but because of my primary young adult cancer diagnosis, I am at an increased risk for secondary cancers, and my breast cancer risk factor is higher than the norm because I have not been pregnant by 30. I’m now tempted when stepping out of the shower to forgo moisturizer and instead tip a small pool of corn oil into my palm and slather up my calves. Plants and veggies contain estrogens too, but corn is on the list of low-estrogen plants.

Homework Geek
That’s where this post was going to end, but my inner research geek got the best of me. I looked up the conference but could not find any papers, posters, or presentations on estrogen and moisturizers. I googled Adrienne’s name and all that came up was this Reuters story. Adrienne had no research papers to her name in the Pubmed database. I looked up Breastlink, which is in Southern California and reeks of being a boutique breast cancer care center. (Hello, they trademarked the words OptimalCare and the director’s bio talks more about his high school track career than his research track record.)

Are you convinced that you should stop using moisturizer? Can you beat me in the research chase and find more information about it than I did? If factual sounding information is on a website or even written by a news service, is that enough proof for you?

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  1. Lisa F. Says:
    December 17th, 2008 at 1:26 AM

    Great post, and I’m so glad you’re doing your own research. I don’t have an answer for you about the estrogen/moisterizer question, but as a veteran newspaper reporter I would say this: You can’t always trust what you read in the papers. I think reporters go out of their way to make sure the people that they quote, on medical stories and others, are credible. But a study like this could have easily come to a reporter from PR Wire or some other PR organ. Plus, there’s a terrible tendency to report on interesting individual studies rather than a body of evidence. The immediate story is sexier (“chocolate can lead to Alzheimer’s!”) and easier to write, because it’s a quick piece that doesn’t call for too much research. But it also often conflicts with other studies (“chocolate cures cancer!”) and ultimately ignores what longterm studies have found- (“chocolate does both bad and good things for the body.” not nearly as sexy). It’s a terrible trend which unfortunately has been going on for a long time now…

  2. Aftercancer Says:
    December 17th, 2008 at 11:15 AM

    I’ll be doing some research on this as I am a breast cancer survivor. Kairol, shoot me an e-mail about changing blogs.

  3. Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty Says:
    December 17th, 2008 at 2:30 PM

    First, what did the info say about Olive oil? I have friends whose mothers have used that for years and their skin (including their faces) looked incrdeible. Could have been genes but it makes me wonder.

    Second, today’s consumer can, thanks in large partto the internet, and must look at many things when reviewing research and articles to formulate beliefs. How old is the information? If it is outdated information (as I run into with many companies, including one which I represent, that precautionarily reformulate products as ingredients are deemed unsafe) you cannot necessarily believe what you read to be true. Is the information based on solid research (with proper controls and evidence from reputable sources) or is it just a regurgitated blog posting? Finally, and of high importance, who is sponsoring the research. Who has a stake in the money flow? You would want to scream if you began (if you haven’t already) researching the incestuous relationships that exist between the FDA and the companies it is supposed to police. How timely that you should write this post today as I was just ranting about some of this on a post today on my blog. Click on my name and go to the post titled “Healthy Sperm -Improving Your fertility” Check it out and let me know your thoughts. Until then, remember what Lisa F. said in her comment, “I’m so glad you’re doing your own research.” As a society we can and should make our own informed and sometimes even precautionary decisions about what we believe based upon what we deem to be truthful…we just must be very careful.

  4. Dana Says:
    December 19th, 2008 at 4:53 PM

    love this post, kairol! i am a whole paycheck addict and only buy personal care products that are free of any schkeivy cancer causing ingredients. i frequent while it is directed more for moms, she provides easy to follow ‘what to look for on labels’ charts. i avoid parabens of all sorts since they mimic estrogen. living this way is not always fun and never cheap, but it quiets my worries about what i am putting in my body.


  5. Ann F Says:
    December 21st, 2008 at 2:09 PM

    There’s a site called set up by breast cancer advocates. The Breast Cancer Fund which has focused on environmental issues, particularly the things that are MADE for us for years. Check it out.
    Ann F.

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