August is National Make-A-Will Month! In honor of this purposeful occasion, I sat down with estate planning attorney and BCPP Board Member Ellen Kahn. My hope for the interview was to demystify the will-making process and clear up any misconceptions about who should be prioritizing wills on their to-do list.Read More
Interview with estate planning attorney Ellen Kahn, BCPP Board Member and 2X Climb Against the Odds climber
August is National Make-A-Will Month! In honor of this purposeful occasion, I sat down with estate planning attorney and BCPP Board Member Ellen Kahn. My hope for the interview was to demystify the will-making process and clear up any misconceptions about who should be prioritizing wills on their to-do list. If you think will-making is just for those ages 65 and over, think again!
Research says that only about 30% of Americans have a will. Yet, my guess is that most people would prefer to have their affairs in order and assets protected when it’s their time to go.
Making a will ensures that you protect the people and causes you care about. Not only does it leave your affairs in order for your family, doing so ensures your legacy and the impact you want to leave behind.
So, whether you are 18 or 80, everyone needs a will. And there’s no better moment than now to find some peace of mind in planning for the future.
Ellen, thank you for sitting down to answer these questions for our supporters.
- Is making a will still applicable to someone who doesn’t make a lot of money or own property?
Yes, making a will sets out how you want to leave your assets. If you do not make a will, state statutes direct how your assets are distributed when you die. It is always much better to make this decision yourself.
- A common thing we hear from people is that their family knows what they want. If this is true, is leaving a will still necessary?
Yes, a will is necessary because it is not your family’s decision where your assets should be distributed. It is your decision. If you do not have a will, it is not up to your family to distribute your assets. The state statutes will control the distribution of your assets. This is particularly important if you are in a second marriage and have children from a first marriage. And if you have minor children and do not direct in a will for assets for them to be held until they reach a certain age, they will receive their inheritance when they are as young as 18. That is rarely a good idea.
- Is making a will complicated and does it require a lot of time and expertise?
Each state has its own rules about how to write a will. The more complex your affairs, the more complex the will – you might even need a trust. A will should cover the following topics:
- Who will receive your assets? Is the distribution of dollar amounts, specific items, or percentages?
- Who receives the assets if your beneficiary is not alive? Maybe the beneficiary’s children, maybe the other beneficiaries, or maybe one or more charities?
- If your beneficiary is a minor, should assets be held in a trust until the beneficiary reaches a certain age? Say, 30?
- Who should be the executor (the person who handles your affairs)?
- Who will you name as guardian for your minor children?
- In addition to including family beneficiaries, can I include a nonprofit in my will or estate plan? Are there extra benefits of doing this?
Yes, you can always name a charity as a beneficiary of your estate plan. If your estate is very large, it will reduce estate taxes.
- What else should someone think about in preparing an estate plan?
When doing estate planning, it is important to think through the following:
- Share with your named executor where you will keep your will.
- You need other estate planning documents too – such as an Advanced Health Care Directive and a Durable Power of Attorney for Property Management. These documents are important in the event you are ever incapacitated and unable to make your own health care or financial decisions.
- Make sure you have created a list of your assets so that your executor can step in and handle your affairs rather than looking throughout your house to try and find what you own.
- If you have passwords or a key to a safe deposit box, make sure that your trusted family members or your executor knows where you keep this confidential information. This is not information to be shared lightly, so be certain you trust the individuals with whom you share this information.
- Talk with your family members or other trusted members of your circle about your burial or cremation plans. Your family should not have to figure this out following your death.
- Talk with your health care agent (the person you name in your Advanced Health Care Directive) in advance of illness about your thoughts on end-of-life decision making. Review this issue regularly.
Ellen says that you need to be thoughtful about estate planning. These are not easy topics, and most of us do not like talking about our own deaths, or the deaths of those we love. But it is important that we do it. And once we do it, we need to review it every 3 or 4 years, or when something major changes in our lives (such as getting married, having a baby, moving from one state to another, or having a serious illness). The drafting of documents needs to be precise and is best done with a lawyer, although this can be expensive. There are online programs that assist people in writing wills and other estate planning documents, although Ellen does not vouch for any particular company. Some states, such as California, permit an individual to write their own will in their own handwriting without witnesses. This is called a “holographic” will, and the rules for it need to be followed carefully (we are not setting out the rules here). But generally, a will requires witnesses.
In addition to protecting the people you care about, you can combine your desire to support breast cancer prevention with your overall financial, tax, and estate planning goals. You can leave a portion of your estate to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners in your will. A planned gift gives you a special connection to BCPP and will help ensure that we can continue our work for years to come.
Here’s a quick blurb to use:
I bequeath [the sum of _________ dollars] [all the rest, residue, and remainder of my estate] [an amount equal to _____ percent of the remainder of my estate] to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (EIN: 94-3155886), located in San Francisco, CA.
“For me, it never felt quite like the time to consider, let alone start working on a will. I’m 31, healthy, and living life up. And then COVID-19 hit last year. I knew in my heart that now was the time to do it. Both my mom and I decided we would tackle our affairs together and get it done! Getting started was half the battle. But once I found an online service that I could trust working with, the process was smooth sailing. I encourage all to do what makes you feel comfortable and confident for your legacy giving. We went with LegalZoom, but there are many options including finding a local attorney to do most of the work for you. For my mom’s estate planning we needed to complete paperwork for power of attorney, an advanced health care directive, a living trust, and a last will and testament. For myself, I just went with a living trust. The process was easy and painless, and both mom and I felt at ease once we had these documents done. Little did we know, my mama would unexpectedly pass away just a year after signing her estate paperwork. Losing my beautiful and wise mom has been the hardest experience of my life. But because mom was proactive with getting her estate planning done, my little sisters and I don’t have to carry an immense burden of scrambling and stressing to get the probate court what they need. My advice? Take care of yourself, loved ones, and future generations by getting your will done and designate a legacy gift to Breast Cancer Prevention Partners!”
From outdoor events to safer cosmetics and cookware bills, BCPP is proud to give you a full update on what has happened this last quarter thanks to your support. Read More
From outdoor events to safer cosmetics and cookware bills, BCPP is proud to give you a full update on what has happened this last quarter thanks to your support.
Recap: Our Biggest Climb Against the Odds
From June 9 – 18, two amazing teams of 41 climbers took on BCPP’s annual mountaineering expedition on Mt. Shasta. Our CAO 2020 Redux team has been waiting as long as 2 years to climb for breast cancer prevention. Though faced with many obstacles – including cold temps, high winds, and thunder and lightning – that could easily demoralize any trekker, the 2020 team rallied together closer than ever and gave their best attempt to summit. The weather was kinder to our 2021 team, which featured 3 mother/son duos and two BCPP staff members. 12 climbers summited, and everyone reached their personal high points! Congratulations and thank you to all 41 of our climbers this year, who put in the hard work, determination, and mental and physical strength to create the largest annual Climb Against the Odds BCPP has had in years.
Multiple Federal Cosmetics Bills
A longtime leader in pushing for stricter federal cosmetics legislation, BCPP is spearheading not one, not two, but FOUR bills, and supporting four others, to achieve true comprehensive cosmetic reform. We are excited to share that our bill package to get toxic chemicals out of beauty and personal care products will be introduced in congress the last week of July, followed by an insider press conference on 7/29 to which you are cordially invited to!
Our bill package will focus on critical areas of cosmetic safety reform that have been ignored, are putting the public and workers at risk, and need immediate attention. These bills will 1) ban 11 of the most toxic chemicals on the planet from beauty and personal care products sold in the U.S., including mercury, formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, phenylenediamines (hair dye chemicals), and the entire class of PFAS “forever” chemicals; 2) require disclosure of the secret, unlabeled, and often toxic fragrance and flavor chemicals hiding in our personal care products; 3) create a set of much-needed federal protections for women of color and professional nail, hair, and beauty salon workers – two extremely vulnerable populations who are over-exposed to toxic cosmetic chemicals given the products they use and/or work with daily; and 4) force supply chain transparency, so cosmetic companies can get the information they need from upstream suppliers in order to make safer products.
Join us at 9AM PDT on Thursday, July 29th: RSVP here.
California Safer Food Packaging and Cookware Act (AB 1200)
BCPP is reigniting our work in the food realm, which includes cosponsoring the California Safer Food Packaging & Cookware Act of 2021 (AB 1200 – Ting), introduced in February 2021. Supported by 4 company/industry associations, 2 public agency associations, and 65 NGOs and counting, this bill would ban paper-based food packaging that contain PFAS chemicals; require cookware manufacturers to disclose the presence of hazardous chemicals, and; prohibit misleading advertising on cookware packaging. AB 1200 has the power to drastically reduce toxic PFAS pollution in our food, bodies, waterways, and communities and make safer, more transparent, cookware shopping easier for consumers throughout CA and potentially the nation. To date, the bill has passed both the Assembly floor and Senate Health Committee! Now we wait for the next stage, the Senate Environmental Quality Committee in July. Learn more about the bill.
How to Find and Read Cleaning Product Ingredients
Do you remember the BCPP-sponsored CA Cleaning Products Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2017? A long-awaited piece of this important legislation went into effect in January 2021: cleaning products sold in California are now required to include a list of ingredients on the product label, providing the crucial information in stores so shoppers can choose safer products. Finding and understanding ingredient lists can be challenging, so we created a brief guide and accompanying video to help familiarize our supporters on the process of researching and reviewing the potential hazards of cleaning product ingredients.
Food and Chemical Alliance – New Website!
At the federal level, BCPP continues to advocate for stricter oversight and regulation of toxic chemicals that are used in processing and packaging materials for food. Much of our work this year has been through our collaborative Food and Chemicals Alliance, led by 8 NGOs demanding that the FDA follow the law and use the latest science to make our food safer. We recently launched a micro website, #ToxicFreeFoodFDA, to educate the public on the issue, urge them to take action, and encourage them to spread the word by sharing eye-catching social graphics.
Peak Hike: NEW location and Save the Date
We’re excited to host a hybrid virtual/in-person Peak Hike this year! Choose a favorite trail near you or come to our in-person event on October 16th, at a new location: The Point Bonita YMCA. This year, we will be hiking a 7-mile route in the Gold Gate National Recreation area. Post-hike, enjoy a delicious lunch and healthy-living expo. Register now with early bird discount code PEAK for $10 off (expires July 31)!
Webinar: Breast Cancer & the Environment
Watch the recent BCPP and AnticancerLifestyle discussion featuring Dr. Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D. to learn about environmental exposures, steps to reduce our exposures, and how we can make our communities healthier for all. And check out this nifty infographic!
Supporter Highlight: Bridget Vanoni
Last you heard, Bridget was preparing to climb Mt. Shasta for her third time, in honor of her mother who passed in 2019 from breast cancer. Bridget joined her mom to challenge Mt. Shasta in 2013 and 2014, after her mom was unable to reach the top in 2012. Together, they hiked, bonded, trained hard and were able to summit both times! This year, Bridget climbed against a woman’s 1 in 8 odds of facing breast cancer with our 2021 team, summitting at 11:28am with her cousin, Kayla. You can see photos of her and her team’s journey here.
With so much momentum in the first half of 2021, we look forward to the positive change we can make throughout the rest of the year. Please consider making a donation today.
Live updates from Mt. Shasta! This inspirational group of 20 volunteer climbers from across the country, featuring 3 mother/son teams, are climbing to challenge the 1 in 8 odds of a woman’s breast cancer diagnosis.Read More
This inspirational team of 21 volunteer climbers from across the country, featuring 3 mother/son duos, climbed 14,175ft. Mt. Shasta to challenge the 1 in 8 odds of a woman’s breast cancer diagnosis. Many climbed in honor of their own or a loved one’s experience with cancer. The team gathered at Northern California’s 14,179 ft. Mt. Shasta and journeyed up the mountain on a 3-day climb.
So far, this team has raised over $149,101 of their $150,000 goal to prevent breast cancer. They are so close! Can you help them reach their goal?
Day 1 – June 14th, 2021
The 2021 team arrived in Mount Shasta to more rain! Fortunately, the skies are expected to clear, and the team will face the “normal” climb schedule:
• June 15th – Hike to basecamp
• June 16th – Early morning summit attempt, followed by a second night at basecamp.
• June 17th – Return down the mountain.
After receiving goody bags with mountain essentials and some treats, the climbers prepared prayer flags to carry up the mountain on behalf of loved ones, friends, and community members. The flags read:
Following an opening welcome and seed planting ceremony, the climbers heard from a Mount Shasta Ranger and Shasta Mountain Guides to make sure they are prepared for a successful climb. The summit is optional, but returning safe and sound is mandatory. Spirits were high at dinner, as the weather seems to be turning warmer, though nerves were also kicking in. These climbers can’t wait to get going up the mountain.
Beautiful weather, gorgeous views.
Climbers Sandy and Patti.
“Are we doing this whole backpacking thing right?”
Day 2 – June 15th, 2021
Once they’ve packed up and made bag lunches for the trail, the climbers head out to meet with their guides and go through gear check at the 5th Season in Mount Shasta. The guides check to make sure all climbers have the essentials for the mountain, and encourage them to leave behind any unnecessary extras.
Group gear check.
BCPP CEO Amanda packing up.
Game face on!
Gear run down with the guides.
The essential pack.
Shoutout to our sponsors!
Packed & ready to roll.
Team hugs and love!
BCPP staff climbers.
The three groups (Purple, Green, and Orange) hiked from Clear Creek Trailhead at 6,500′ up to Clear Creek Springs Base Camp at 8,200′, about a three hour hike.
The climbers are camped overnight on the mountain at Clear Creek Springs base camp at 8,200 feet in elevation. They’re getting as much rest as they can in preparation for an early rise Wednesday morning to attempt the summit. They enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the mountain, with a view of the shadow of Mt. Shasta.
Sunset shadow of Mt. Shasta.
Day 3 – June 16th, 2021
The climbers woke up at 2:30am for a 3:30am start up toward the summit. From base camp it’s about 6,000 feet of elevation over 3.3 miles to the top. Mostly scree (loose pebbles and rocks), they’ll hit some snow as they approach the summit. Let’s go climbers!
All teams launched from base camp between 3:30-4am.
Laura Martinez & Marci Castillo reach their personal high points of 8,200 feet and are safe at base camp.
Scree ascent on Clear Creek Trail.
Note: All times listed are dispatch times. Actual time events took place varies due to communication relay lag times.
4:25am Sara Roush reaches her high point at 9,000 feet.
6:24am Sandy Hanshaw reaches her high point at 10,200 feet.
Way to go climbers! Thank you for your terrific efforts climbing against the odds for breast cancer prevention.
Sunrise on Mt. Shasta.
7:17am Linda Helper-Corley and Joanne Starkman reach their high points at 11,100 feet. Amanda Heier reaches her high point at 11,400 feet.
8:30 am Erica Heywood reaches her high point at 12,200 feet.
8:48am Climbers are approaching 13,000 feet.
9:08am Sarah Reines reaches her high points at 12,800 feet.
10:35am Max Starkman, Megan Krieg, and Dwana Strat summit Mt. Shasta at 14,179 feet.
11:22am Mark Victory, Patti Betts, and Andrew Abraham summit Mt. Shasta.
11:28am Bridget Vanoni, Kayla Field, Max Reines, Wreny Blick, and Cristin Bailey summit Mt. Shasta.
12:01pm Ethan Corley rested and is on the move again toward the summit. You’ve got this Ethan!
2:20pm Ethan Corley summits!
4:13pm All climbers are now safe and sound back at base camp. They’ll stay the night there before returning down the mountain tomorrow morning.
Tonight supporters gather together to celebrate the climbers and prepare to welcome their return!
Congratulations climbers on this incredible feat. Thank you so much for your hard work, determination, and fierce strength in facing this challenge to climb against the odds to prevent breast cancer.
Mark Victory summits Mt. Shasta.
Bridget Vanoni and Kayla Field summit Mt. Shasta
Bridget carried the talisman all the way to the top.
Prayer flags at the summit of Mt. Shata.
North Face climber Andrew Abraham flies prayer flags in honor of those affected by breast cancer. The prayer flags read: “The wind carries our prayers of love, healing, and remembrance. May we all be well.”
Support the Climbers
Follow on Social
Check out our Instagram story highlights for more updates on the climbers’ journey! (New to stories? Look below the main profile info and above the square image posts for the CAO Team 1 and CAO Team 2 circles.)
Climb Against the Odds is BCPP’s annual mountaineering expedition for breast cancer prevention in Mount Shasta, California.
Initially slated to climb Mount Shasta in June of 2020, this team of climbers showed extreme tenacity and flexibility. Faced with obstacles across the board, the CAO 2020 Redux team rallied, and were finally able to gather June 9th – 13th in Mount Shasta, California. See their journey!Read More
Climb Against the Odds, our annual mountaineering expedition for breast cancer prevention, is back! Initially slated to climb Mount Shasta in June of 2020, this team of climbers showed extreme tenacity and flexibility. Faced with obstacles across the board, the CAO 2020 Redux team rallied, and were finally able to gather June 9th – 13th in Mount Shasta, California.
As a group, the team raised over $157,637 and will continue to fundraise through the end of the year. Meet the climbers and donate to help them reach their personal fundraising goals!
Follow the climbers’ journey below and on our Instagram stories.
Team members of CAO 2020 Redux.
Coming down the mountain.
Day 1 – June 9th, 2021
The CAO 2020 Redux team was greeted by cold temps, thunder and lightning! That didn’t deter this group, though. The team met with a Mount Shasta ranger and Shasta Mountain Guides to get the lay of the land and map out a plan for their climb. Due to inclement weather, the schedule changed slightly. Instead of attempting their summit in the early morning hours of June 11th, they would instead spend the entirety of the June 11th at basecamp and attempt their summits in the early hours of June 12th, heading all the way back down the mountain in one day.
Team arrives at Mt. Shasta.
Taking in Mt. Shasta’s beauty.
Day 2 – June 10th, 2021
Climbers were up early and met at 6:30am to fuel up on breakfast! They then went to the Shasta Mountain Guides store to hear some final prep, and headed across the street for gear check on the lawn behind the Fifth Season. Climbers were broken into 3 teams, and went through the contents of each of their packs with their guides. In addition to climbing essentials and layers for the cold, guides were looking to ensure everyone had enough food!
Shoutout to our Sponsors!
Clif Bar nom nom nom!
Can’t leave without Buff.
Team One is off!
Leaving for Basecamp.
Day 3 – June 11th, 2021
Climbers started the day with a short hike before heading back to their tents to, what they thought, would be a short rest. The weather quickly turned, with increasingly high winds, rain, sleet and snow. The majority of the day was spent huddled in their tents, although with any break in the weather, climbers were able to spend time together. Luckily, winds died down just before dinner.
Making their way up.
Before the storm.
Day 4 – June 12th, 2021
The team woke up at midnight to fuel up and start their trek to Mt. Shasta’s summit. The high winds and inclement weather resumed, giving each of the climbers a difficult task of making the trek. Every climber gave their best, but the conditions made it impossible for anyone to summit Mount Shasta. The team had a great attitude, having come down the mountain even more bonded than before. Here are their personal summits:
Jen Bray – 12,000’
Christina Caselli – 10,600’
David Cooper – 8,500’
Kara Cooper – 10,600’
Nicole Cooper – 10,600’
Jamie Earl – 12,400
Steve Ellis – 12,000’
Lindsey Floreani – 11,600’
Martin Floreani – 11,600’
Marga Franklin – 8,500’
Alex Grishaver – 11,500’
Laura Grishaver – 11,500’
Pam Keefe – 12,000’
Susan Scott – 12,000’
Linor Vaknin – 12,000’
Kevin Walker – 12,300’
Wendy Young – 8,850’
Check out the view!
Day 5 – June 13th, 2021
The group convened one more time before heading back home. Following breakfast, climbers reflected on their experience leading up to, and on the mountain. After a tumultuous year, the 2020 team breathed a collective sigh of relief, paying tribute to a unique experience that bonded them together.
These climbers have poured their hearts and souls into this expedition. They’ve trained for the climb of a lifetime, while becoming vital ambassadors for breast cancer prevention.
How You Can Help
Their goal is to collectively raise $350K between the two teams this year, and they’re almost there! Will you show your support?
Until next time, Mt. Shasta.
Support BCPP Climbers!
The Sponsors who help make this happen!
BCPP taught my mom that certain chemicals, diet, and other environmental exposures might increase the risk of a future breast cancer diagnosis for her young daughters, and it was through BCPP that she learned and became empowered to make informed choices about how to keep us as safe and healthy as she could. My mom’s support for BCPP was her gift to us. And that’s why supporting BCPP is so important to me.Read More
On my fourth birthday, my mom was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. She was just 36 years old. 10 years later, her cancer returned. This time the diagnosis was devastating – Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer to her bones and lungs. On February 26, 2019, I lost not only my mom to breast cancer, I lost my best friend and the person in my life I loved the most.
When my mom got sick, her greatest wish was to ensure a healthy and disease-free future for me and my twin sister – especially since she was unsure about her own future. That’s when she learned about Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
Mom and me at Mt. Shasta
BCPP taught my mom that certain chemicals, diet, and other environmental exposures might increase the risk of a future breast cancer diagnosis for her young daughters, and it was through BCPP that she learned and became empowered to make informed choices about how to keep us as safe and healthy as she could.
My mom’s support for BCPP was her gift to us.
And that’s why supporting BCPP is so important to me.
My mom put her trust in BCPP as the only national organization solely focused on the science linking breast cancer to chemicals in our everyday lives. She knew how important it is to find out what causes breast cancer so that she could protect her daughters from getting it.
Today, BCPP continues to guide my everyday decision-making by translating the science and making it easier for people like me to live a healthier life. If BCPP tells me that toxic chemicals are in a specific shampoo or product, I stay clear of it, knowing that I am potentially making a life-saving decision about what I put in and on my body.
Me and my twin sister Mia
My mom on top of the world
In 2021, a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer in the U.S. is 1 in 8. Yet, 8 out of 10 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease. Meanwhile, thousands of untested, unsafe chemicals enter our homes, products, and bodies each and every day.
Your gift supports the science that drives innovative educational programs like BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. It enables BCPP to continue to shape policy reform at the local, state, and federal levels by co-authoring groundbreaking legislation to advance a comprehensive approach to breast cancer prevention, protecting the health of all people – not just in California, but across the nation.
BCPP’s interventions reduce risk, improve the environment, and increase the safety of our products, while reducing health disparities for people in vulnerable communities. But we need your continued support.
On June 14, just four days after I graduate from college, I will be participating in BCPP’s Climb Against the Odds event in Mt. Shasta. I will be joined by a team of breast cancer survivors and supporters and, for the first time since climbing with her in 2013 and 2014, I will be tackling the mountain without my mom. It will be an emotional experience for me, but it will also be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my entire life – and I know my mom will be right by my side every step of the way.
Me and mom at Climb
I hope you will join me!
I will never stop missing my mom, but by supporting BCPP I can continue to honor her legacy – to educate more people about the connection between breast cancer prevention and environmental health. That is why I’m inviting you to do the same. Can you join me on this journey by making your most generous gift today?
My mom believed that together, we have the power to eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer and achieve a future where no mother, aunt, sister, or daughter will have to hear the words, “you have breast cancer.” Please join me in supporting BCPP.
PS: Your donation is an investment in a healthier, less toxic future for all people. Support prevention with me and give generously today.
PPS: You can follow my journey up Mt. Shasta this June 14-18.
If you’re concerned about the safety of the chemicals in the cleaning products you bring into your home, you’re probably familiar with trying to decipher the sometimes confusing or complicated labeling. Still, if you learn the basics of decoding cleaning product labels, you’ll find the essential information you need to identify and avoid chemicals linked to breast cancer and other harmful health effects. Read More
By BCPP Senior Policy Director Nancy Buermeyer
If you’re concerned about the safety of the chemicals in the cleaning products you bring into your home, you’re probably familiar with trying to decipher the sometimes confusing or complicated labeling. Still, if you learn the basics of decoding cleaning product labels, you’ll find the essential information you need to identify and avoid chemicals linked to breast cancer and other harmful health effects.
Until very recently, there was no requirement for companies to disclose the ingredients in cleaning products (except for the active ingredients in disinfectants). Most cleaning products were a black box, with marketing claims like ‘natural’ and ‘environmentally friendly,’ and no way for us to verify those claims by checking the full ingredient list.
And then, the CA Cleaning Products Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2017 cracked opened that black box of secrecy. As of January 2021, cleaning products sold in California are required to include a list of ingredients on the product label, providing the crucial information in stores so shoppers can choose safer products. More detailed ingredient information has been available on cleaning product websites since the beginning of 2020.
A critical, lesser-understood side effect of ingredient labels is that they encourage companies to make safer products by removing toxic chemicals from their formulations, which is great for those of us shopping for safer, nontoxic cleaning products!
We know that finding and understanding ingredient lists can be challenging, so we created a new report to help: Opening the Black Box: A Guide to Cleaning Product Ingredients. Along with our accompanying video (see below), the guide walks you through the process of researching and reviewing the potential hazards of cleaning product ingredients.
We hope you find these resources helpful!
Check out this video, How to Find Cleaning Product Ingredients:
Video Transcript (coming soon)
I know, you don’t want me to say it. You enjoy wine with dinner. And those Happy Hour cocktails.Read More
Interview with BCPP Chief Scientist Dr. Sharima Rasanayagam by Volunteer Andrea Dannenberg
I know, you don’t want me to say it. You enjoy wine with dinner. And those Happy Hour cocktails. I get it: drinking is a huge part of our culture. And maybe you’re someone who is drinking more during the pandemic. But, what’s the health cost? I sat down with BCPP’s Director of Science Dr. Sharima Rasanayagam to discuss drinking alcohol and breast cancer risk. Check out our short video where she explains why drinking increases breast cancer risk and how we can all reduce that risk. See full video transcript below.
See the full video transcript below.
Our latest Factsheet summarizes the links between drinking alcohol and breast cancer risk. BCPP’s Paths to Prevention: The California Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan identifies alcohol consumption as one of 23 risk factors for developing breast cancer. When comparing drinkers to non-drinkers, studies found a 22% increased risk of breast cancer for those who drink. Another study estimated that 8% of breast cancer diagnoses are due to alcohol consumption. The research is also pretty clear that the more we drink, the greater our breast cancer risk. You can read more about the research in the Glossary of Exposures page on Alcohol. Here are some tips to consider to reduce breast cancer risk from alcohol for yourself and those you love.
Have One Less Drink
If I told you not to drink ever again, would you listen? Probably not, right? So instead, I’m going to suggest that you have one less drink. Maybe that means having one less drink tonight. Or maybe that means having one drink less over the course of this week or this month. Whatever that means for you, do it. Any reduction in alcohol consumption will reduce your breast cancer risk.
Avoid Binge Drinking
Binge drinking (four or more drinks at one time) is common, especially among young people. Breast cancer risk is just one of the negative effects of binge drinking. Binge drinkers have a 29% higher risk of breast cancer compared to those who have low levels of drinking. So, when you choose to drink, please try to limit your consumption.
Be an Ally
We have all been at social gatherings where someone passes on a drink. How often do we hear people make a joke and reoffer or ask why they aren’t drinking? Maybe you’ve done it, too. “Oh, come on, just one drink!” Next time, be mindful that people don’t drink for many reasons—religion, health, personal or family history of addiction, etc. They don’t owe an explanation. Be supportive. Instead, if you’re hosting a social event, have plenty of non-alcoholic options available for your guests. Or consider not offering alcohol at all. A mocktail, juice, coffee or hot chocolate bar can still make an event feel special without the health risks. And, if you’re a guest, reconsider bringing alcohol to share.
You can read more about the alcohol consumption and breast cancer risk on BCPP’s webpage on the topic. The folks at the Alcohol Research Group (ARG) of the Public Health Institute created an easy to understand website addressing this topic. You might also check out their posts on social media using #drinklessforyourbreasts. This page from the National Institute of Health also provides some tips on how to reduce your alcohol consumption.
Andrea (00:02): Hello, we’re here today to talk about breast cancer risk and alcohol. My name is Andrea Dannenberg and I’m a volunteer with BCPP.
Sharima (00:11): Hi, Andrea and everybody out there. I’m Sharima Rasanayagam and I am the Director of Science at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
Andrea (00:19): So my first question for Sharima is a doozy. Does drinking alcohol cause breast cancer?
Sharima (00:27): All right. Well, for one thing, I never say that something causes breast cancer. I will say unfortunately, drinking alcohol does increase your risk of a breast cancer diagnosis. There’s a really large body of evidence and multiple studies showing that women who drink alcohol are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who do not. And that the more you drink, the higher your risk. The good news is that any reduction in alcohol consumption reduces your risk of breast cancer. But as I say, the reason I don’t ever say that something causes breast cancer is that breast cancer is what we call a multifactorial disease. There’s no single thing that causes any cancer and a really important that nobody blamed themselves for their own cancer diagnosis. So there are lots of risk factors that add up that can result in a diagnosis, and these can include genetics and family history, diet and exercise, environment and environmental exposures linked to the disease. And then some of these are totally out of our control. Some we can make individual decisions about and some we need to work collectively to address, which is something that BCPP really focuses on.
Andrea (01:44): Great. Well, thank you for that explanation. That’s really helpful. Can you give us a very layman’s explanation of why drinking alcohol increases breast cancer risk?
Sharima (01:57): Well, so what we’ve seen is associations between drinking alcohol and, and increased rates of breast cancer. And a lot of research has gone into what might be these mechanisms. And there’s a few that have really come to the fore. First of all, when we drink alcohol, our body breaks it down into what’s called metabolites, and the main one is acid aldehyde. And that is actually a carcinogen, which is a chemical that is known to cause cancer. So it’s these toxic metabolites of alcohol are a real issue. The other thing specifically for the breast cancer is that drinking alcohol also increases a woman’s estrogen levels in their body. And we know that higher levels of estrogen have been linked to increased risk of breast cancer, particularly, estrogen receptor positive breast cancers. And then there’s, a little bit, there is some concern over folate levels because when you drink alcohol, it’s more difficult for your body to absorb folate from, from your diet, like leafy green vegetables and stuff. And there’s emerging evidence of that may also be linked to increased cancer risk.
Andrea (03:08): Wow. So that’s pretty complicated, but I’m glad that you could break it down for us into a little bit more understandable language. What can women do to reduce their alcohol-related breast cancer risk?
Sharima (03:21): Well, you can reduce your intake of alcohol. The less you drink and it’s been shown that the less you drink the lower your risk. There are emerging research looking at binge drinking and seeing that that might be even worse than, than regular drinking. But as much as you can do to minimize your intake of alcohol, that will decrease your alcohol-related risk of breast cancer and, and a bunch of other health effects.
Andrea (03:47): Okay. So knowing what you know about alcohol and breast cancer risk, do you drink alcohol?
Sharima (03:53): I do, but very occasionally. And I must admit since doing, since starting in this job and seeing the information on alcohol, I have really reduced my intake of alcohol. I do not drink now regularly or, or normally, but I still do have a glass of wine on a very special occasion.
Andrea (04:13): Great! Well, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us today and addressing this really important topic.
Sharima (04:19): Thank you, Andrea.
Westlake cancer survivor shows what’s possible with 14,000-foot climb. Originally published on the Acorn April 15, 2021. Inspiration comes in many forms, and people who are faced with a life-threatening illness often see the world through a different lens.Read More
Westlake cancer survivor shows what’s possible with 14,000-foot climb
Originally published on the Acorn April 15, 2021 by John Loesing
Photo by Cobi Crumholtz: At the top of Mount Shasta, Climb Against the Odds climbers fly prayer flags in honor and memory of those affected by breast cancer and other diseases.
Inspiration comes in many forms, and people who are faced with a life-threatening illness often see the world through a different lens.
Given not one, but two cancer diagnoses in the past four years, Westlake Village resident Sarah Reines became inspired to regain her health, push her body to the limit, and climb a tall mountain.
Reines, a resident of Westlake’s First Neighborhood for the past 20 years, received a lymphoma diagnosis in 2017 and a breast cancer diagnosis in 2019. She has treated both illnesses and today says she is “doing well.”
Reines tackled her breast cancer with chemotherapy, radiation and a mastectomy, and credits her recovery to a love for the outdoors and staying in shape through running, hiking and climbing.
She’s run five marathons, including the 2015 L.A. race, and more than two-dozen half-marathons, but her latest challenge will be something she’s never tried before: a summit attempt at Mt. Shasta, California’s second-tallest peak at 14,179 feet. (The less technically challenging Mt. Whitney is 14,505 feet.)
Mother and son Sarah and Max Reines training for Climb Against the Odds
Reines, 48, will climb the northern California mountain with her 16-year-old son Max, an Agoura High School junior, the week of June 14. They’ll be part of a group of almost two-dozen cancer survivors and supporters who are climbing to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit organization Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, founded in 1992.
The name of the June expedition is Climb Against the Odds. Reines’ goal is to raise $14,179 for the organization, one dollar for every foot of Shasta elevation.
Flags of honor
“I’ll be carrying Tibetan prayer flags to the top of the mountain, and each one will be inscribed with the name of someone who has survived cancer or was lost to cancer,” Reines said.
“In the Tibetan tradition, prayer flags fly from housetops, trees and mountain passes—wherever the wind can catch and carry their message of hope,” she said.
“Max and I will carry these flags, along with a flag to honor my stepdad, John, who died of cancer in 2017.”
Reines, a retired Amgen corporate communications employee, had initially wanted to climb Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro with her son, but then the breast cancer struck.
“Since my cancer diagnoses, it became unclear if we would be able to achieve that goal that we set out for ourselves,” she said.
As her condition improved, the mother and her son turned their sights instead to the rugged, snow-encrusted Mt. Shasta, and have been training regularly for their June expedition. Workouts feature treks in the local mountains including Boney, Saddle Mountain, Topatopa—and a final tuneup with a 40-pound backpack up the challenging slopes of 10,000- foot Mt. Baldy in Claremont prior to leaving for Shasta.
“This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” she said. “I’m really feeling good about how things are going, and I’m really hoping we’ll make it all the way up the top.”
The route on Mt. Shasta takes climbers to a pair of approach camps where they will learn technical skills with ropes, crampons and ice axes. Those who survive a middle-of-the-night summit push will find themselves standing on Shasta’s rocky summit peak sometime after sunrise, when the views turn glorious and emotions run high.
Son Max should be in shape and ready. He’s an avid track and cross country competitor for Agoura High School,
“I like to try new things, and for a long time Mom and I have wanted to climb a mountain together, so I’m excited for Shasta,” Max said.
“After a long year of being at home, it will be fun to have an adventure,” he said.
The two have been training together regularly.
“It’s already been just an awesome experience as we spend time together getting ready for this,” the mom said.
The rest of the Reines family, including Dan, the husband, and the couple’s two daughters—one a fourth-grader at White Oak Elementary School in Westlake and another a freshman at UC Santa Barbara—will wait behind in Shasta City near the base of the mountain while mother and son complete their climb.
It’s a family affair.
“Our family has been through a lot, but this climb gives us something wonderful to focus on now,” Sarah Reines said.
Throughout the years, determined breast cancer survivors have tackled mountains around the globe in their quest to show that the disease can be beat. Mt. Whitney, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Kilimanjaro, even the Himalayas, have been their proving grounds.
Whether climbing a tall mountain or just taking part in a local hope-walk fundraiser, the message is the same: The women do it, they say, because they can. And also to inspire others.
In 1995, a group of 17 breast cancer survivors climbed Mt. Aconcagua in the Argentine Andes— the western hemisphere’s highest mountain at 22,835 feet— and raised some $2 million for Expedition Inspiration, a breast cancer research and awareness organization.
Six attempted the summit and three made it to the top.
The climb inspired a book and a television documentary.
Get in touch
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners is an organization dedicated to preventing breast cancer by eliminating exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation linked to the disease. To support Sarah and Max in their upcoming Climb Against the Odds, visit https://donate.bcpp.org/teamsarahandmax.
Reines said, “When I climb Mt. Shasta in June, I’ll do it in much the same way that I confronted my own breast cancer— one step at a time—drawing upon my courage as I face my fears.”
Support our Climbers!
Check out the full itinerary this year and support our climbers! Email email@example.com with any questions.
Just as the springtime blooms are awakening, we too are excited to open up and share the latest BCPP news with you. With your support, we’ve already made big things happen for prevention in 2021!Read More
Just as the springtime blooms are awakening, we too are excited to open up and share the latest BCPP news with you. With your support, we’ve already made big things happen for prevention in 2021! Check out the highlights below and please consider donating today to help us build on this incredible momentum.
NEW BILL: Banning PFAS in Food Packaging
PFAS ‘forever’ chemicals can be found in our food, food packaging, cookware, and many other consumer products. These chemicals are linked to serious health problems – including increased risk of cancers, COVID, endocrine disruption, and birth defects – and never break down in our bodies or the environment. That’s why BCPP is co-sponsoring a brand-new California bill, the Safer Food Packaging and Cookware Act (AB1200-Ting) to ban PFAS in food packaging and force the disclosure of toxic chemicals in cookware!
TAKE ACTION: Toxic PFAS in Burger King Wrappers
When used in grease-resistant food packaging, PFAS ‘forever’ chemicals easily move from food wrappers into our food and then pollute our bodies, water, soil, and air. There, they build up and cause serious health harm. We’re working with our partner, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, to call on Burger King to remove PFAS from their food wrappers. In the first week of action, 445 members of the BCPP community sent in letters to Burger King. Didn’t take action yet? Send your letter today!
Spring Gala Recap: Moving Prevention Forward, Virtually
Last month, we held our first ever virtual gala, March Forth, to celebrate and invigorate our movement to prevent breast cancer and create a healthier world for everyone. The evening was filled with amazing energy and featured outstanding entertainment, high-profile celebrity speakers, and leaders in environmental health and justice. Our community showed up virtually and came together strong, raising over $227,500 for prevention! See our blog for show highlights, the gala recording, and extended content from our speakers.
New Biden Federal Policy Agenda
With a new president comes the need for a new federal policy agenda. So, BCPP developed and disseminated an extensive, 22-page agenda for the Biden Administration to reverse the rising incidence of breast cancer in the U.S. This clear set of solutions addresses the toxic chemical exposures Americans face every single day that are contributing to increasing rates of breast cancer and other diseases. Now, we’re in the midst of planning meetings with new agency heads and officials to distribute and advocate for our recommended Executive Orders, reversals of regulatory rollbacks, and new policies. Stay tuned!
Paths to Prevention: Race, Power, & Inequities
Each month we are highlighting key information from our Breast Cancer Primary Prevention Plan. We recently published our first fact sheet on Race, Power and Inequities. Keep an eye out for our upcoming virtual educational events on breast cancer risk factors and what we can do to promote prevention.
Supporter Spotlight: Sarah Reines
Meet Sarah Reines, a participant in 2021 Climb Against the Odds, longtime BCPP supporter, and cancer survivor. Sarah and her 16-year-old son, Max, will climb Mt. Shasta together this summer.
“I feel like one of my main lessons from this Climb Against the Odds is that I can push through fear and come out on the other side. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling afraid since my first cancer diagnosis three and a half years ago. Each time I have bloodwork or a scan, I spend a week worrying about what we are going to see. I’ve turned down a few opportunities because I was afraid that my cancer may come back, and I may not be well enough to realize the opportunity fully. No more. I’m not going to say there isn’t going to be any more fear, but I’m showing myself that I can keep going, despite the fear. I just need to keep breathing and do ‘it’ anyway.”
Safe Cosmetics Webinars
Our very own expert, Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy and Director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, represented BCPP in two stellar virtual events this past quarter. First up was a Congressional Staff Briefing on the need for federally mandated fragrance and flavor ingredient disclosure in personal care and beauty products. Watch it here! The second was a really fun and informative presentation with City of Hope’s “Bench to Community Program” Salon Conversations discussing safe cosmetics and advocacy. Watch it here!
Join BCPP and AnticancerLifestyle for our webinar ‘Breast Cancer and the Environment: What We Know and What You Can Do.’ This webinar features Dr. Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D., BCPP’s Director of Science. You’ll learn about the link between environmental exposures and breast cancer, what we should be most concerned about from a scientific perspective, concrete steps we can take to reduce our exposures, and how we can work to make our communities and environment safer for all.
BCPP’s work to protect our loved ones and the planet from toxic chemicals linked to breast cancer is of vital importance, now and for future generations. Making a planned gift is a powerful way to make a lasting impact and legacy with us that won’t cost you anything today. We hope you will join those who have planned for their future (and ours!) by including BCPP in their will, trust, or beneficiary designations. Writing a will is one of the most important steps you can take to protect what matters most to you.
Partner Spotlight: Innersense Organic Beauty
Innersense Organic Beauty has partnered with BCPP for the past several years, including an advocacy trip to Sacramento, where their CEO, Joanne Starkman, made office visits and pledged support for the Cosmetic Fragrance and Flavor Ingredient Right to Know Act of 2019. Once that bill was passed (hurray!), Innersense Organic Beauty didn’t stop there! From supporting BCPP’s mission through product donations to sponsorship, the team made their largest commitment yet, supporting 7 employees from various states to climb in BCPP’s annual Climb Against the Odds on Mt. Shasta. Not only does this company rally support for BCPP at the Capitol, but they’re also doing it from one of CA’s highest peaks!
What makes them great: Innersense Organic Beauty promises clean chemistry, radical transparency, and a commitment to the environment. Founders Greg and Joanne Starkman commit to professional quality haircare products with safe ingredients validated by the app Think Dirty, while seeking to inform beauty professionals and consumers on the importance of non-toxic haircare.
SPECIAL APRIL OFFER FOR YOU!
Use code BCPPHAIRLOVE to save 15% at www.innersensebeauty.com. This code is good for one use through May 6, 2021!
The journey never pauses for those seeking to create change. Thank you for walking by our side into 2021 – into the next decade of breast cancer prevention. All of us at BCPP deeply value and appreciate your support and commitment to our work!
In this episode of Salon Conversations by the Bench to Community research project, BCPP”s Janet Nudelman discussed safe cosmetics advocacy with host Tonya Fairley. Recorded March 23, 2021. Read More
BCPP’s Director of Program & Policy and Director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Janet Nudelman was featured as a Guest Speaker on the Salon Conversations series
In this episode of Salon Conversations by the Bench to Community research project, BCPP”s Janet Nudelman discussed safe cosmetics advocacy with host Tonya Fairley. Recorded March 23, 2021.
About Salon Conversations
Salon Conversations is a community forum where we bring awareness, educate, and provide actionable steps towards sustainable change on environmental exposures in personal care products and breast cancer risk. This forum is apart of the Bench to Community research project led by Dr. Dede Teteh and Dr. Lindsey Trevino. Join the conversation: https://is.gd/edcbreastcancer For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Janet Nudelman, MA directs program and policy activities and coordinates BCPP’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and Cans Not Cancer Campaign. She draws on 30 years of experience working in the social change arena as a political organizer and lobbyist on women’s health issues to create and oversee BCPP’s cutting edge policy initiatives and market-based campaigns. Previously, Janet served as Political Director at Credo Mobile (formerly Working Assets) and Legislative Assistant for Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY). She has a M.A. in Public Policy from George Washington University.