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National Council of Churches Releases a Healthy Spa Toolkit
to Commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Washington, October 26, 2009 - To recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Program is releasing a new guide to educate people of faith about chemicals in personal care products.  

Some chemicals are linked to breast cancer, early puberty in girls, and other health conditions. Made in the Image of God: Healthy Spa Workshop Guide and Toolkit for People of Faith examines why ensuring the safety of personal care products is a matter of faith, and includes recipes that can be made at home or in a house of worship. 

The toolkit can be downloaded at http://nccecojustice.org. Additional activities such as tools for public witness can be found online at www.nccecojustice.org/healthyspa.php

Already the Council has hosted pilot workshops using the toolkit in five states and Washington, DC. The response from women’s groups has been overwhelmingly positive as they learned about the connection between cosmetics, breast cancer and other health problems; and they made their own safer alternatives.  

“This toolkit presents a great opportunity to educate women’s groups as women and children are vulnerable to toxic chemical exposures linked to breast cancer and other chronic health problems,” said the Rev. Ann Tiemeyer, director of Women’s Ministries for the Council. “Woman and teens apply two to three times more products daily than men. Meanwhile, breast cancer is still one of the leading causes of death among women.” 

Low-income women are particularly vulnerable to chemicals in personal care products linked to breast cancer and other health conditions. This is due in part to lack of access to safer alternatives in local stores.  Production and disposal facilities are also more likely to be located near low-income communities, particularly low-income communities of color. Additionally some products marketed to women of color, such as hair relaxers, can contain chemicals linked to breast cancer and other health conditions.  

“As people of faith we must stand with all women and especially low-income and women of color to ensure that our cosmetics are safe for consumers, workers, and communities,” said Chloe Schwabe, Assistant Director for Environmental Health at the Council.

Recently, the Rev. Mari Castellanos of the United Church of Christ attended a breast cancer awareness event hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. “It is clear that the First Lady and the Administration are committed to preventing and finding a cure for breast cancer,” Castellanos said. “The churches need to get on board as well. I pray that this new NCC toolkit will help educate people of faith about chemicals in personal care products linked to breast cancer and other chronic health conditions and lead to policy solutions that protect the most vulnerable members of our society.” 

Made in the Image of God: Healthy Spa Workshop Guide and Toolkit for People of Faith can be downloaded at http://nccecojustice.org/resources/index.php#environmentalhealthresources.  

The NCC is the ecumenical voice of America's Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican, historic African American and traditional peace churches. These 35 communions have 45 million faithful members in 100,000 congregations in all 50 states. For the last 25 years, the Council’s Eco-Justice Program has worked to educate people of faith about issues impacting the health of God’s Creation and people.


NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell) , pjenks@ncccusa.org

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