We must be mindful of toxins entering our bodies in food, water and the environment. Many people are not aware there are potentially toxic and carcinogenic ingredients in body care products. Below is an excellent article on the subject from Healthkeepers December 2012 issue.
Toxins in Personal Care Products
Personal care products are supposed to make us beautiful. But have you read the list of ingredients on the label of your favorite shampoo, body wash,moisturizer, cosmetics or lotion recently? Have you come across chemical names like phthalates, triclosan, paraben or sodium laureth sulfate? What are these substances and what are they doing in these products that go directly on your skin?Our body’s biggest organ is the skin. It’s your most important immune defense barrier as well as your largest organ for eliminating waste. Many chemicals found in body care products pass easily through the skin and tissues into the blood stream, which carries them throughout the body. While we have wonderful detoxification capabilities for eliminating harmful toxins, today there are so many synthetic chemicals assaulting our bodies from the air, water and food that we are experiencing toxic overload. Unable to adequately process and excrete the overwhelming number of incoming toxins, our bodies store them in our tissues, especially in our fat cells. This creates an ever-growing accumulation of toxins, which can interfere with our normal biochemical processes and can eventually produce diseases or worse.Toxins found in body care products generally fall into these categories: neurotoxins; endocrine disrupters; irritants and allergens; and kidney and/or liver poisons. They’ve been linked with all kinds of disease, including infertility and birth defects; asthma and respiratory failure; convulsions; circulatory collapse; anemia; skin problems like acne, eczema and psoriasis; nervous system disorders like Parkinson’s and ALS; chemical sensitivity; and cancer.Watchdog groups such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and researchers at Vassar College are finding that these culprits are found in the following chemical groups: phthalates, triclosan, paraben and musks. Byproducts of these substances such as sodium laureth sulfate and 1,4-dioxide are suspected carcinogens.When you consider the fact that we use an average of nine body care products a day which contain an average of 126 different synthetic chemicals, which are not all poisons, but many toxic enough to do serious damage to your health—you have to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What’s in these products?”What can you do about this? Vote with your dollar. Carefully read the list of ingredients on product packaging to stay away from these chemicals. Suggest to your local pharmacy and supermarket that they carry more natural and organic personal care products or visit your local health food or natural product store to find healthier alternatives.
AVOID THE “DIRTY DOZEN”
Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol: Found in Anti-freeze. Acts as a “surfactant11 (wetting agent and solvent). Penetrates skin and weakens protein and cellular structure. Strong enough to remove barnacles from boats! The EPA considers PG so toxic that workers are required to wear protective clothing and to dispose of PG by burying it in the ground. PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against contact to prevent brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. But there isn’t even a warning label on products such as stick
deodorants, where the concentration is greater than in most industrial applications.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES):Detergents that pose serious health threats. Used in garage floor cleaners, engine degreasers and in 90% of personal care products that foam. Animals exposed to SLS experience eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS. May damage the skin’s immune system. Can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. Your body may retain the SLS for up to five days and maintain residual levels in the heart, liver, lungs and brain.
DEA (diethanolamine) MEA (Monoethanolaniine) & TEA (triethanolamine):
Hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing nitrates. Restricted in Europe due to carcinogenic effects, yet they are still used in the U.S. Americans may be exposed 10-20 times per day with shampoos, shaving creams and bubble baths. Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated applications of DEA-based detergents result in major increase in liver and kidney cancer. The PDA’s John Bailey says, “The risk is significantly increased for children.”
Sodium Hydroxide: The most recent addition to our personal care products. This is a poison (caustic lye) found in drain cleaners, yet is now found in our children and adult toothpaste!
Triclosan: Synthetic “antibacterial” with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange! The EPA registers it as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to human health and the environment. It is in a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. It may produce dioxin, a hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects measured in the parts per trillion; that is only one drop in 300 Olympic-size swimming pools! Hormone disrupters pose enormous longterm chronic health risks. It can change genetic material, decrease fertility and sexual function, and foster birth defects. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse and convulsions. Stored in body fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys and lungs, and can cause paralysis, brain hemorrhages and heart problems. Tufts University School of Medicine says Triclosan can force the emergence of “super bugs” that it cannot kill. Its widespread use in antibacterial cleansers, toothpastes and household products may have nightmarish implications on future generations.
DMDM & Urea (Imidazolidinyl): Two of many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness and loss of sleep. Exposure also irritates the respiratory system, triggers heart palpitations or asthma and aggravates coughs and colds. Other side effects include weakening the immune system and cancer.
Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): Carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that reduces the skin’s natural moisture. Increases the appearance of aging and leaves you vulnerable to bacteria. Used in spray-on oven cleaners and cleansers to dissolve oil and grease.
Liutane or Propane: Found in aerosol products. May be narcotic and cause asphyxiation.
Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40): Drying, irritating solvent that strips skin’s moisture and immune barrier, making you vulnerable to bacteria and viruses. Made from a petroleum derivative found in shellac and antifreeze as well as personal care products. Promotes brown spots and premature aging. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.
Mineral Oil: Petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic wrap, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Baby oil is 100% mineral oil!
FD&C Color Pigments: Synthetic colors from coal tar that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.
Fragrances: Can contain up to four thousand ingredients (including animal urine), many toxic or carcinogenic. Causes headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing, vomiting and skin irritation. Fragrances affect the nervous system, causing depression, hyper activity, irritability, inability to cope and other behavioral changes.
To learn more about cosmetic safety and the health concerns associated with certain ingredients in beauty care products, please consult the following resources:
• The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (www.safecosmetics.org)
•Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers’ Guide to Safe Cosmetics (www.ewg.org)
• CosmeticsDataBase.com (www.cosmeticsdatabase.com)
• Environmental Risks and Breast Cancer Project from Vassar College (erbc.vassar.edu)
• National Geographic’s “The Green Guide” (www.thegreenguide.com)