A few weeks ago I sent an email out to our list discussing the possible association of phthlates (pronounced thowl-ates) in baby products such as shampoo and skin care products.  Phthlates have been shown in several studies to effect the reproductive system and other organ systems in the body. These substances have been getting a lot of attention in both the media and the scientific community.

Not only could they be impacting the fertility of men and women now and future generations, but several hundred animal studies have linked phthlates to prostate and breast cancers, abnormal genitals, early puberty onset and obesity,”(“What’s Toxic in Toyland,” Time December 11, 2006). Studies have linked Bisphenol A to hormone disruption, an increased risk to breast cancer and prostate cancer.

The information in this email is not meant to stress you more than you already are because there is yet again, another thing to worry about, but instead it is meant to empower you with information so that you can become aware of what you can do to promote good health for yourself and your family.  Per several hundred studies this doesn’t seem to be an “urban legend” such as your hair dryer could kill you, but it is an issue building up credible evidence by scientists who are not associated with the companies that use the chemicals in their products.

I see many cases of prostate cancer or breast cancers in patients that do not have anything in their history that may have predisposed them to these issues. Fertility issues for no reason or other “hormonal issues” with no apparent cause. Genetics or hereditary components usually account for less than 5 % of cancers including breast and prostate cancers.  What if repetitive exposures to these chemicals is tipping the scales towards an unhealthy balance in the body?  Let’s educate ourselves more about them so we can minimise our exposure whenever possible.

The industries that use these chemicals support their use by citing their own studies that show the amount of the chemical used should not have any negative physiological effects on the body.  This might be true if we were only exposed to that small amount from only one product.  But unfortunately it appears that on average women use a minimum of 12 personal care products in the morning before they leave their home and men average about 10.

Now I thought my exposures would be significantly less than this considering the minimal amount of product that I thought I used in comparison to others.  But after reviewing my list of morning personal care products I came up with

3-daily cleanser for my face
4-cleanser for the rest of my body
5-skin toning solution
6-face moisturiser
7-hair gel
8-hair spray
9-deordorant (thank goodness for our staff 🙂 )
10-eye liner
12- toothpaste

I was surprised to find that when I actually listed each product I use that I am very much spot on the average

But also consider these products:

-shaving cream
-perfume or cologne
-body moisturiser
-lip  stick
-lip balm
-all make up
-contact cleaner, saline, eye drops
-nail polish
-nail treatment
-polish removal
-tooth whitening
-body sprays

So you see, there is a realistic potential for repetitive exposures to these chemicals each day.

Since we could NEVER ELIMINATE all of our exposures to chemicals (there are tens of thousands of chemicals not even tested to see what effects they can have on our health) it makes much more sense to stay calm, and empower ourselves with this information and then minimise our risks by using products that do not contain these chemicals.  Easier said than done?  Yes, in many cases, but certainly worth the effort.

What can you do?

I suggest to visit the website www.cosmeticdatabase.com and see if your products are listed in this database and what the potential risk  is.  You can enter in the name of the product and if it is in the database it will give you a score of 0-10.  10 being the worst score.

There will  also be options available that show moderate, minimal and no risk so you can look for these products in the stores or on the net.

Thankfully 8 out of the 12 products I use in the morning do not contain phthlates or parabens (yes I contacted the company) so I reduce my exposure risk to these potentially harmful chemicals by almost 70% just by using these products.  And you can bet that I will be contacting the companies of the other products I am using to see if they use phthlates, parabens or contain bisphenol A.  If I can decrease my exposure then I take some load off my immune system and liver which leave these two vitals systems more ability to keep my health in balance.

Repetitive exposure to any type of chemicals can cause physiological stress on the system which can deplete our defense mechanism, i.e. the immune system.  If the immune system gets overwhelmed it has a hard time maintaining health for us and this may be one of the reasons why some dis “eases” are created in the body.

Don’t act out of place of fear, act because you are wanting to focus on balance health for you and your current and future family.
What else can you do?  Read labels.  Do you best to eliminate the use of any products that contain parabens (which could be listed as methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, butylparaben, benzyl-paraben on the labels) or phthlates (listed on some labels as DEP or DEHP).

The sad fact is however that companies are not required to even list some of these chemicals on its product labels so contacting the company and asking them point blank is often the best route.  Reputable companies will have customer service personnel who can answer questions about their product.

If more consumers voice their concerns about it and the use of these chemicals potentially could effect a companies bottom line, they will hopefully eventually remove them just to maintain their profits.

Ask your government what they are doing about it?  Does your government take a stand.  In Europe, there are approximately 1100 chemicals that are forbidden in personal care products, all of which are not restricted in the US.  Get informed, and raise this question with your local politicians.  Or if this isn’t your style or you don’t have the time, support organizations that do this kind of work.

What else can you do?

As we have discussed in previous tips (see website under fertility tips for Safe Use of Plastics) be aware of your use of plastics and try to stay away from plastic toys for infants that go in the mouth or contact the company to see if they use phthlates or bisphenol A to reduce their exposures.

Go Green when it comes to cleaning supplies in your house.  Stay away from air fresheners in your home and get as much fresh air in as you can.

There are so many little things you can do that can minimise your exposure.  The things I have listed in this email and others as well as the many others out there on the internet are simple, not inexpensive and are really just common sense.

We have been conditioned by the commercial media that new is better but that isn’t necessarily true.  Don’t stress about it, just be aware and make conscious choices based on common sense, instead of unconscious choices driven by the messages in the media which are paid for by companies wanting you to buy their product to improve their bottom line.  Your health and the health of your loved ones unfortunately to many companies is not their priority.  So make it your priority.

Another site I have found that has some good information with natural product choices is www.gaiam.com If you have other sites, let me know and I will review them and possibly  list them on our site.  The products that I use for my personal care regime in the morning are from USANA.  If you would like more information on this company and their products let me know.