As many of you may already know, October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is no doubt that in certain populations of women, the death rate from breast cancer is going down due to awareness and early detection.
But now it’s November; the pink is gone (likely heading to a landfill or incinerator) so it’s important to ask: “Are we truly succeeding? Will we ever get our arms around all the possible causes of cancer? Which month should we dedicate as Prevention Month?”
Speaking for Silk Therapeutics’ co-founder Rebecca (Beck) Horan and myself, it is this giant sense of mission that lights our fire. For Beck, a cancer survivor by the age of 27, her personal experience speaks for itself.
Personally, I am more passionate about Silk Therapeutics and skincare than I have been about any technology I have worked on over the past 20 years. As a father, I am especially driven by the knowledge that my eldest son likely developed food allergies from a combination of eczema and the “all natural” body lotion used to treat his skin as an infant.
What you may not know about Beck and I is that our 15-year long research led to the creation of the first FDA approved silk-based medical device, used to help re-grow damaged breast tissue following mastectomy. Mastectomy is often a life-saving surgery, but these procedures only save lives if women engage in early detection as driven by awareness. Through this experience, we gained perspective about the importance of awareness and potential impact of medical treatments. However, we felt there was an opportunity to impact health at a society level; an opportunity to go beyond awareness to prevention in our daily lives and the products we use, and that has become our inspiration at Silk Therapeutics.
The truth is, little is understood about what chemicals, or combination of chemicals, might be harmful when applied to the skin (see this latest article from the Silent Spring Institute on how parabens, in combination with a second chemical, can increase the growth of breast cancer cells: http://silentspring.org/research-update/lower-doses-common-product-ingredient-might-increase-breast-cancer-risk.)
The truth is:
1) The skincare market is essentially self-regulated by the same company selling the product.
2) Many skincare products contain toxicant, mutagenic and carcinogenic ingredients, but consumers assume they are safe because they are for sale.
3) Product manufacturers and retailers can be evasive about ingredients. In some cases, consumers will see the ingredients list for the first time after they make a purchase.
4) We have found, after much digging, that many ‘green’ and ‘organic’ products, are filled with additives and preservative systems for their natural ingredients. These are acute toxicants and allergens where safety has never been established; but the ingredients are hidden behind healthy sounding labels and icons that speak only to a portion of the ingredient list.
5) What you put on your skin enters your bloodstream and passes through your body quickly thereafter; and yet, it’s impossible for consumers to answer the question, “is this safe to use?”
…And this brings us back to the question: “What about prevention?”
Here is how we answer that at Silk Therapeutics: We believe that every consumer deserves to make an informed choice about the products they use. Even if you wouldn’t choose to know, you deserve the choice to be aware; to take control of your health; to avoid as many risks factors in your life as possible.
We are working hard to offer you choice without compromise through quality and transparency. This mantra is embedded through our product development process, our quality assurance system, in our in-house scientific expertise, and in our network of skilled biochemists. Because of the benefits and use of pure natural silk protein for the very first time in skincare, this can be seen in our sincere efforts to make our minimal, yet effective, list of ingredients readily available to anyone who wants to see it.
Every product we make and every month we work is about prevention for us, so that every day can simply be about living beautifully for you.
-Dr. Greg Altman, Co-Founder, CEO, Silk Therapeutics