By Tina Beaudoin, ND
While many of us avoid pesticides in our produce, scrutinize food labels and drink out of glass or steel containers, how would you rate what sits on the shelves in your bathroom and in your shower? There are over 10,000 unique chemical ingredients that go into personal care products! The government does not require health studies, pre-market safety testing or FDA approval before these products end up in our shopping carts.
While many of our patients don’t readily think of personal care products as a source of toxin exposure, we know that the skin readily absorbs whatever we rub, rinse, lather or spritz onto it in our daily routines. For this reason, below are a few highlights to keep in mind or turn into a quick reference for your patients when discussing personal care products:
Parabens: endocrine disruptor with estrogenic activity, intact parabens can accumulate in human breast tissue at levels sufficient to increase the growth of breast cancer cells1
Forms: ethyl, methyl, butyl or propyl parabens
Frequently found in: cosmetics, moisturizers, hair care products, shaving products
Phthalates: endocrine disruptor with estrogenic activity, decreased male fertility2, elevated levels found in autism spectrum disorder3, endometriosis4, pro-atherogenic and pro-senescence effects via severe lipoprotein modification5
Forms or common names: diethyl (DEP), diisobutyl, and bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalates, MEHP, DEHP, note that ‘fragrance’ on an ingredient label likely contains phthalates
Frequently found in: personal care products as softeners and flexible plastics (recent study found phthalates can be absorbed from plastic milk containers with phthalates bound to milk proteins6 ), perfume, nail polish, adhesives, caulk, paint pigments and flooring
Bisphenol-A: endocrine disruptor with estrogenic activity that has been linked to higher risk of developing diabetes, infertility, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers (breast, prostate and testicular), found to neutralize the effects of tamoxifen and stimulate prostate cancer cell migration7, and influence resistance to cell death8
Forms or common names: BPA
Frequently found in: nearly all beverage and food cans as epoxy lining, plastics with #7 recycling code, water bottles, composite fillings, various medical and dental devices, water supply pipes
The take home message is that while parabens, phthalates and BPA’s are ubiquitous in our environment and pose significant health hazards, it is possible to reduce your exposure by reading labels, minimizing plastics and staying informed. You can purchase products with natural ingredients, and a couple of great resources are Dr. Walter Crinnion’s book Clean, Lean and Green and the Environmental Working Group’s online database (www.ewg.org). Be sure to stayed tuned for ‘Part 2’ as there is definitely more to come!
Tina Beaudoin, ND
Charles, AK, Darbre, PD. Combinations of parabens at concentrations measured in human breast tissue can increase proliferation of MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. J Appl Toxicol. 2013; 33(5): 390-8.
Dodge LE, Williams PL, Williams, Missmer SA, Souter I, Calafat AM, Hauser R. Associations between paternal urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and reproductive outcomes among couples seeking fertility treatment. Reprod Toxicol. 2015; Oct 6. [Epub ahead of print].
Kardas F, Bayram AK, Demirci E, Akin L, et al. Increased Serum Phthalates (MEHP, DEHP) and Bisphenol A Concentrations in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Role of Endocrine Disruptors in Autism Etiopathogenesis. J Child Neurol. 2015; Oct 8. [Epub ahead of print].
Kim SH, Cho S, Ihm HJ, et al. Possible role of phthalate in the pathogenesis of endometriosis: in vitro, animal, and human data. BMJ Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015; Oct 6. [Epub ahead of print].
Kim SM, Yoo JA, Baek JM, Cho KH. Diethyl phthalate exposure is associated with embryonic toxicity, fatty liver changes, and hypolipidemia via impairment of lipoprotein functions. Toxicol In Vitro. 2015; Sep 28. [Epub ahead of print].
Lin J, Chen W, Zhu H, Wang C. Determination of free and total phthalates in commercial whole milk products in different packaging materials by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Dairy Sci. 2015; Oct 7. [Epub ahead of print]
Dairkee SH, Seok J, Champion S, Sayeed A, Mindrinos M, Xiao W, Davis RW, Goodson WH. Bisphenol A induces a profile of tumor aggressiveness in high-risk cells from breast cancer patients.Cancer Res. 2008; 68: 2076–2080.
Narayanan KB, Ali M, Barclay BJ, et al. Disruptive environmental chemicals and cellular mechanisms that confer resistance to cell death. Carcinogenesis. 2015; 36: S89-110.