Did you know that before WWII breast cancer was relatively rare compared to what we see today?
Before 1940 almost all clothing was made from natural fibers, versus today, where it’s actually hard to find clothing without some form of polyester in it.
In 2010 polyester overtook cotton and silk as the dominant material in our clothing.
What is polyester? It is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the same form of plastic that we create water bottles, seat belts, and canoes from. Like a plastic bottle, it does not breathe, does not decompose, and leaches into our oceans and groundwater.
Why do we use polyester instead of Eco-friendly natural fabric? Over the years the cost of natural fibers has risen, while fabrics created from petroleum have been easier to produce at a lower cost. The demand for a high profit margin has caused a push for the use of the lower priced fabric.
It’s like health food versus fast food. Natural breathable fibers are the health food of clothing; they come from nature, are pure, and don’t tear down your health. And polyester is like the fast food of clothing; high volumes of cheap chemicals, driven by a profit based industry, and degrading to your health.
Polyester in clothing is no longer easy to spot. The image of that often comes to mind when we think of polyester is that thick, heavy stuff our grandmas used to wear. In today’s fashion it is recast as soft supple fabrics with new names like microfiber, acetate, Lyocell, melamine, olefin, spandex and a dozen other names.
Recently the media created a buzz over dress made from recycled plastic bottles, worn by Emma Watson. While we do support recycling efforts, we don’t suggest wearing plastics against your skin.
There are a number of studies that link plastics to cancers, specifically breast cancer. In 1987, at Tufts Medical School in Boston, research scientists Dr. Ana Soto and Dr. Carlos Sonnenschein discovered the link between plastic and breast cancer. Their research showed how chemicals leached from plastic disrupted our endocrine system.
The endocrine system controls physical growth, energy balance and the development of sex organs, including the breasts. In particular, the endocrine system regulates tissue function. Part of the problem with polyester is that it often restricts the release of toxins via the lymphatic system.
Your lymph nodes are critical in removing toxins and waste, as well as destroying cancer cells, and they ride very close under the skin. Besides the chemicals your body might absorb through the skin, polyester wrapped around your body -- such as in a sports bra -- can restrict the flow of toxins out.
Their findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives (1991). This study - among others - was highlighted in the blog “Polyester and Our Health” in OEcoTextiles. https://oecotextiles.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/polyester-and-our-health/
In short the blog says: “These studies support claims that plastics are simply not good for us – prior to 1940, breast cancer was relatively rare; today it affects 1 in 11 women. We’re not saying that plastics alone are responsible for this increase, but to think that they don’t contribute to it is, we think, willful denial. “
Of course at Indigo Handloom, we are all about the real stuff. Real cotton. Real silk. Real wool. We want to see a shift in the fashion industry from health and earth damaging practices, to sustainable fashion and eco-friendly clothing.
Cheap, unhealthy clothing is winning the day because people buy it. We can help to turn this trend around, and support our own health, by buying natural fiber clothing.
Choosing to wear natural fiber clothing is such an easy way to limit your exposure to health damaging chemicals. Read your labels carefully, or shop Indigo Handloom and rest easy! Cover your body in the equivalent of healthy food not fast food and have one less thing to worry about.