Tip#20 Check your Personal Care Products
Personal Care Products – 15 ingredients to evict from your Bathroom and Toilet Bag
Is your bathroom cabinet bulging with toxins?
Is your make-up or toilet bag a cocktail of chemicals that could do you harm?
Most people think that environmental toxins surround them outside the home, when the reverse is true. All research studies point to one clear conclusion – your home is the biggest environmental hazard to your good health.
We are not saying any one of these is a direct cause of cancer, although several are known carcinogens while others affect your immune system, nervous system or internal organs. But if you are at all interested in Cancer Prevention or simply good health, you might think to check out the ingredients list on your bottles and jars; the higher up the list these 15 come, the greater the concentration and the greater the potential harm to your health. So chuck out the offenders, look before you buy and invest in safer ´toxin-free alternatives.
A known Class A carcinogen it is used as a disinfectant, fixative, germicide and preservative in a wide variety of products from deodorants to liquid soaps, and from nail varnish to shampoos. Also known as formalin, formal and methyl aldehyde, it has been linked in research to lung cancer and leukaemia. It can also be sourced from chipboard and ceiling and floor tile glues. It can damage DNA, irritate the eyes, upper respiratory tract and mucous membrane, and may cause asthma and headaches. It is banned in Japan and Sweden.
Listed as alkyl parahydroxy benzoates -butyl/methyl/ethyl/ propyl/ isobutyl parabens on products such as some toothpastes, moisturisers and deodorants. They are used as a preservative but, like phthalates, can act as oestrogen mimics. Research suggests that mimics can increase levels of active oestrogens in the body – oestrogen lies behind many cancers like breast cancer, testicular cancer, colon and prostate cancer. Xenoestrogens, as these chemical oestrogens are termed, have also been linked to reductions in sperm count.
Sometimes refered to as “gender benders”, these are a family of industrial plasticisers already banned in the EU from being used in plastic toys, but still widely found in plastic bottles and plastic cups. If the contents is heated, the heat can further denature the plastic causing a greater release – forever. Phthalates can be absorbed through the skin, inhaled as fumes and ingested in liquids and contaminated food, and even via breastfeeding. They are xenoestrogens, or oestrogen mimics. They can be found in shampoos, shower gels, and even your posh mountain fresh water bottles. Also found in hairsprays, top-selling perfumes and nail varnishes. Animal studies have shown they can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system -especially developing testes.
They are banned in the EU from being used in plastic toys,
ii) Bisphenol A
Found in plastics, the white linings inside cans, and babies bottles. Recent Canadian research turned BPA up in cans of fizzy soft drinks too. Banned in Canada, and in toys for the under 3´s in California, BPA is another plastic-based oestrogen mimic
4: Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
is one of the ingredients in many a shampoo, bubble bath, liquid soap etc. Why, when it is a known skin irritant, stops hair growth, can cause cataracts in adults, damage childrens eye development and cause urinary tract infection?
Because its cheap and produces lots of bubbles when mixed with salt. Hardly compensation! Sodium Laureth Ether Sulphate (SLES) is a slightly less irritant form of SLS, but may cause more drying. Both can lead to potentially carcinogenic cocktails of nitrites and dioxins forming in shampoos and cleansers, by reacting with other ingredients. SLS actually increases the permeability of the skin by about 40 per cent. Skin is not a barrier – it´s a carrier. If anyone tells you otherwise, ask them how HRT and nicotine patches work?
is a common solvent found in nail enamels, hair gels, hair spray, and perfumes. It is a neurotoxin and oestrogen mimic and can damage the liver, disrupt the endocrine system and cause asthma.
In America toothpaste labels clearly warn about fluoride use. Consider carefully this warning: ´As in all fluoride toothpastes, keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Centre immediately´. Fluoride is even added to mouthwash. It probably does no good at all if you are over 35 and the FDA has stated that it should be avoided by pregnant women. Some states in America have started banning fluoride from water supplies.
Recent research from Australia linked alcohol-based mouthwashes to higher rates of mouth, tongue and throat cancer. (These cancer are on the increase particularly in 40-something adults). Smokers and people who drank alcohol as well as using these mouthwashes had 3 to 5 times higher rates of these cancers. ´Should be banned´, was the researchers conclusion.
8: Propylene Glycol
is a cosmetic form of mineral oil (refined crude oil) used in industrial anti-freeze. People handling it are warned by the manufacturer to avoid skin contact and wear respirators and rubber gloves etc, and yet this is a major ingredient in most moisturisers, skin creams, baby wipes and sun screens. Why?
Its cheap and gives the “glide” factor in body lotions – but is in fact robbing lower layers of skin of moisture. Lanolin and collagen can also clog pores and cause skin to age faster than if nothing was used.
is recognised as carcinogenic and has been linked to an increased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer and general urinary tract disorders. On some baby powder tins it actually says, Do not use near mouth or nose! The distant cousin of asbestos, so dont dust it on your babys, or anyone elses, bottom! And certainly not near your mouth and nose – of course it is in make-up face packs and ´powder puffs´.
A typical cosmetic can contain up to 150 chemicals in the perfume alone! 95 per cent of these chemicals are synthetic compounds derived from petroleum -26 of which are on an EU hit list. Fragrances have been linked to allergies and breathing difficulties and they penetrate the skin. The ingredients do not legally have to be declared. Avoid all skin contact with fragrances.
is also listed, for example, as xytol or dimethylbenzene on nail varnish bottles. It can damage your liver, is narcotic in high concentrations and causes skin and respiratory tract irritation.
Ans also Tri- and Mono- (DEA, TEA and MEA) are absorbed through skin where they accumulate. If found in products also containing nitrates, they react and form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic.
13: Vitamin A – retinyl palmitate
is found in many skin creams, skin lotions and sunscreens. There is a growing body of research expressing concern that, far from helping with skin damage or protecting against sunburn, this either pre-sensitises the skin to the harmful effects of Ultra Violet rays in sunshine or is actually carcinogenic where in sunlight! The FDA is reviewing concerns that this may actually cause more skin cancers!
sometimes listed as 5-chloro-2 (2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol, is an antibacterial agent in deodorants, toothpastes, vaginal washes and mouthwashes. Toxic dioxins are produced during its manufacture or incineration. It is stored in breast milk and in fish, and can break down in water to create a member of the dioxin family, a proven carcinogen. Serious concerns are under investigation right now.
or PPD is used in dark hair dyes. Tests on rats have shown that PPD may cause cancer, after long-term use with hydrogen peroxide. Now look at the next ingredient in the list on your pack at home! It has been implicated in numerous bladder cancer cases in California. The perfect excuse to go blonde?
While we are on this subject, research covered in Cancer Watch following the normal lives of young people over a couple of weeks showed that the two top toxins found to accumulate in our bodies were formaldehyde and dichlorobenzene. And this occurs whether we live in cities or in the countryside. Why? Because both of these toxins are predominantly found ´in-home´. (Dichlorobenzene is in many of those supposedly nice smelling things people freshen their toilets, carpets and rooms with – this should be the 16th toxin!)
Let’s look at a few of the things you really need to know if you are going to clean up your personal care products and the toiletries in your make-up bag. The things you may wish to cut out in your cancer prevention programme. We are not saying any of these ingredients is a direct cause of cancer. But if you are serious about preventing cancer you might like to know about the chemical performance of some of these.
First two general points:
* Your skin is a carrier not a barrier. There was a lengthy debate about this in the pages of the Times a few years ago with prominent scientists saying that liquids on the skin could not pass any chemicals into the blood stream. Obviously they haven’t talked with makers of HRT or nicotine patches.
* The bottles you use may themselves contain plasticisers which can leach xenoestrogens (chemicals that, once inside the body, mimic the action of the sex hormone oestrogen, a known cause of cancer) especially if they have contained hot liquid or have been exposed to heat. BPA and phthalates are just two of these.
Now here are a few things you should know about:
Soap: can contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS); used because, with salt, it foams. It is a known skin irritant and has been linked to problems with children’s eyes, and even cataracts. It has been linked with toxic residues in the heart, lungs, liver and brain (Journal of American Toxicology Vol 2 No, 7 1983). Of most significance is that SLS can increase the permeability of the skin by up to 40 per cent allowing more chemicals to cross into the blood stream.
Shower Gel: can contain SLS or its cousin Sodium Laureth Sulphate, which is not such an irritant but more chemically active with the other ingredients and can form compounds such as nitrosamines, which have been linked to cancer. Prolonged use has been known to cause eczema, especially with children and babies.
Shampoos: can contain SLS or more likely Sodium Laureth Sulphate. Other ingredients include methyl aldehyde (a form of formaldehyde) – known carcinogen. Some anti-dandruff agents, for example zinc pyrithione, are known to cause muscle weakness and wastage, spasms and nervous problems. Other ingredients include the wetting agents DEA and TEA, which can release nitrosamines as they sit on shelves, especially if the product is in a clear bottle and left in strong light.
Toothpaste: can contain SLS, but the lining of the mouth is very absorbent to chemicals already. Main ingredient is sodium fluoride, a by-product of the aluminium industry and some traces of aluminium can be found. Sodium Fluoride has been used as rat poison in concentrated form. America seems to know of this problem. There, warnings on pack state: ‘As in all fluoride toothpastes, keep out of the reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Centre immediately’. Other ingredients can include Triclosan – perfectly harmless unless you mix it with water, when it can form dangerous dioxins.
Moisturisers: can contain propylene glycol, which in concentrated form is Industrial anti-freeze. It is used for ‘skin glide’. It is a solvent and easily absorbed through the skin. In high concentrations it is a skin irritant and has been linked with fatal depression of the nervous system in babies. It is ‘officially’ considered safe for use in cosmetics up to a 50 per cent concentration level. Other ingredients include ‘parafidium liquidium’ (as if the Romans had this!?). Posh liquid paraffin can cause sweat rashes and inflammation of hair follicles; can be polluted with polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which have been linked to cancer.
Hair Dyes: especially dark hair dyes can contain paraphenylene diamine, which causes cancer in rats when hydrogen peroxide is present. Other ingredients include hydrogen peroxide and ammonia which is not thought to be a carcinogen but is a toxin. Cancers of the bladder, neck, head and kidney have been linked in research to these dyes.
Mouthwash: can contain up to 25 per cent alcohol. Has been linked to cancers of the mouth and has caused death when accidentally drunk by children. Can also contain Sodium Fluoride. Research from Melbourne showed direct links to mouth and throat cancer of up to 8 times normal levels if you used an alcohol based mouthwash and smoked or drank alcohol.
Shaving Cream: can contain DEHA. This can be a contaminant of plastic packaging. In animal experiments it causes tumours and can be a skin irritant.
Baby Wipes: often contain propylene glycol.
Talc: powder is the cousin of asbestos. Warning on some products says clearly, ‘Do not use near baby’s nose or mouth’. It has been linked to breathing problems but, even in large quantities, there’s no link to lung cancer. However there were fears that long term genital use might be linked with some ovarian cancers but recent research has not confirmed this.
Lipsticks: few even say what they contain. They used to use colouring compounds like lead, titanium, zinc and aluminium but we are assured that this is no longer the case in popular brands. However a 2012 report by the FDA on 400 common brands showed 380 with lead levels higher than deemed safe for candy bars. Lipsticks can contain isopropyl alcohol, which can cause DNA damage; and propylene glycol. Applying lipstick twice a day will mean you ingest 22 kgs in a lifetime according to US research, but 2 lbs according to WEN in the UK. No comment.
Eye Shadow, face powder: now what was the warning on a baby powder bottle? Believe it or not but Finish researchers found arsenic in some makes of eye shadows. The colourings can be based on titanium oxide, which does have links to cancer risk
Nail polish: can contain xylene and toluene which are skin irritants and can cause liver and nerve damage. Toluene is also a powerful endocrine disrupter and oestrogen mimic. Many also contain formaldehyde. The problem is that your nails are actually porous and the skin behind them is very absorbent, so this is like having ten or twenty little toxic patches on your body, if you are not careful.
Nail varnish remover: gives off strong and potentially irritating vapours. One US report said that girls working in nail parlours in the USA had higher levels of brain tumours, although this might not be connected at all.
Sun cream: may prevent cancer, or it may even make matters worse. Some contain titanium oxide, propylene glycol, PABA, cinnamates and benzophenones. Retinyl palmitate and oxybenzone have both been the subject of concern at the FDA in America. Research from Sweden and Switzerland has shown potentially harmful ingredients in the urine several days later. After all, you do rub it in to make it disappear. And several of the common ingredients are oestrogen mimics. Sweden has banned PABA. Personally, I never use them. One driver in melanoma is localised oestrogen.
Parfum: is a funny word that means perfume; and here your troubles really start. Nowhere does any company have to say what is in it, and it could contain any of about 50 chemicals. Some of these are definitely toxic, endocrine disrupters acting like synthetic oestrogen in the body. In one study covered in icon, women who used perfume or perfumed products on their skin during pregnancy and then produced male offspring, saw 11 per cent of these with genital problems (size etc). The reason was assigned to a chemical called DEHP in the blood stream. This has even been linked to testicular cancer. Keep all perfumes and perfumed products off your skin.
Parabens: widely used as a preservative in many cosmetics and toiletries. This is also a powerful oestrogen mimic.
THE SOLUTION IS SIMPLE:
Go Toxin-free. Just don´t buy the potentially harmful ingredients. Euro MP´s have already debated a list of over 1000 potentially harmful ingredients that you can buy today in your high street.
Women Beware: Most Feminine Hygiene Products Contain Toxic Ingredients.
“EWG found that adolescent girls’ bodies are contaminated with chemicals commonly used in cosmetics and body care products. In fact, we detected 16 potentially toxic chemicals — phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and musks — in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls.”
Environmental Working Group
Women Beware: Most Feminine Hygiene Products Contain Toxic Ingredients
The issue of what kind of feminine hygiene products you use is rarely if ever discussed. Yet it’s clearly an important topic for every woman out there.
Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and also the thinnest. Less than 1/10th of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable — especially the skin around your vaginal area, not to mention inside the vagina itself.
This is why attention needs to be paid to the ingredients used in tampons and sanitary pads.
Most items that come in constant contact with your skin will end up in your bloodstream and distributed throughout your body. This is why I’m so fond of saying “don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t eat if you had to.”
Putting chemicals on your skin may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body.
However, when chemicals come in contact with your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs. And once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down.
In my opinion, the realm of feminine hygiene can be likened to a “ticking time bomb.” Because when you consider your exposure over the course of a lifetime, it really adds up; the average American woman uses up to 16,800 tampons in her lifetime — or as many as 24,360 if she’s on estrogen replacement therapy.
And that’s just tampons… Many women use countless sanitary pads in place of, or in addition to tampons. When this same ‘average’ woman has a baby, she may also use maternity and nursing pads.
What’s Really in Those Sanitary Pads and Tampons?
In the featured article1, Andrea Donsky, founder of Naturally Savvy and co-author of Label Lessons: Your Guide to a Healthy Shopping Cart, reveals just how little we are allowed to know about the ingredients used in feminine hygiene products.
In fact, manufacturers of tampons and sanitary pads are not required to disclose the ingredients used because feminine hygiene products are considered “medical devices.”
When Andrea called Procter & Gamble directly to find out what’s in their Always Infinity pads, the only ingredients the service reps could give her were: foam and a patented ingredient called Infinicel2 — a highly absorbent material that can hold up to 10 times its weight.
In the above video, she demonstrates what happens when you burn an organic versus a conventional sanitary pad. The 100% organic cotton pad, made by Natracare, burns slow and clean, leaving virtually no sooty residue at all.
The Always Infinity pad on the other hand, with its mostly undisclosed ingredients, create lots of black smoke and thick residue — indications that the pad may contain dioxins, synthetic fibers and petrochemical additives.
In fact, according to her research, each conventional sanitary pad contains the equivalent of about four plastic bags! With everything we now know about the hazardous nature of plastic chemicals, this alone is cause for concern.
For example, plasticizing chemicals like BPA and BPS disrupt embryonic development and are linked to heart disease and cancer. Phthalates — which give paper tampon applicators that smooth feel and finish — are known to dysregulate gene expression, and DEHP may lead to multiple organ damage. Besides crude oil plastics, conventional sanitary pads can also contain a myriad of other potentially hazardous ingredients, such as odor neutralizers and fragrances. Synthetics and plastic also restrict the free flow of air and can trap heat and dampness, potentially promoting the growth of yeast and bacteria in your vaginal area.
The Price You Pay for ‘Clean’ White Tampons and Pads
Furthermore, to give tampons and pads that pristine, “clean” white look, the fibers used must be bleached. Chlorine is commonly used for this, which can create toxic dioxin and other disinfection-by-products (DBPs) such as trihalomethane. Studies show that dioxin collects in your fatty tissues, and according to a draft report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), dioxin a serious public health threat that has no “safe” level of exposure! Published reports show that even low or trace levels of dioxins may be linked to:
- Abnormal tissue growth in the abdomen and reproductive organs
- Abnormal cell growth throughout the body
- Immune system suppression
- Hormonal and endocrine system disruption
Meanwhile, the FDA’s official stance regarding trace amounts of dioxins is that there are no expected health risks associated with trace amounts of dioxins in tampons… Naturally Savvy notes that 10 years ago, House Representative Carolyn Maloney introduced legislation that would have required research into the potential health risks of any ingredient used in feminine hygiene products, including endometriosis, cervical, ovary and breast cancers. Unfortunately, the legislation did not pass, and it does not appear that any such research has been done.
Could You Be Absorbing GMO’s Via Your Tampons?
Andrea discovered a number of shocking details about the potential hazards posed by tampons and sanitary pads during her research for the book, Label Lessons, such as3:
- Conventional tampons contain pesticides… Cotton crops make up just 2.4 percent of the world’s land, but each year a whopping $2 billion is spent on pesticides to spray this one crop.
- Tampons and pads with odor neutralizers and other artificial fragrances are nothing short of a chemical soup laced with artificial colors, polyester, adhesives, polyethylene (PET), polypropylene, and propylene glycol (PEG), contaminants linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness, and infertility.
- Conventional tampons most probably contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). According the USDA, 94 percent of all the cotton planted in the US is genetically engineered.
As Andrea questions, is inserting a GMO tampon into your vagina several times every month any different than ingesting GMO food? For all we know it may be worse, considering the fact that your vaginal wall is highly permeable, allowing toxins direct access into your bloodstream — be it pesticide residue or a GMO protein.
Beware of Toxic Shock Syndrome
It’s important to remember that tampons can create a favorable environment for bacteria growth. Micro tears in the vaginal wall from tampons allow bacteria to enter and accumulate. One recognized risk from tampon use is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which may be caused by poisonous toxins from either Staphylococcus aureus (staph) or group A streptococcus (strep) bacteria. TSS can be a life-threatening condition, so it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms. Should any of the following symptoms arise while using tampons during your period, make sure you seek medical help:
Sudden high fever
Low blood pressure
Rash on palms or soles of feet
Redness of your eyes, mouth and/or throat
To minimize your risk of this potentially life-threatening condition:
Avoid super absorbent tampons – choose the lowest absorbency rate to handle your flow
Alternate the use of tampons with sanitary napkins or mini-pads during your period
Never leave a tampon inserted overnight; use overnight pads instead
Change tampons at least every 4-6 hours
When inserting a tampon, be extremely careful not to scratch your vaginal lining (avoid plastic applicators)
Do not use a tampon between periods
Many of today’s feminine hygiene products are made primarily from rayon, vicose, and cellulose wood fluff pulp… not cotton — let alone organic cotton. Rayon and viscose present a potential danger in part because of their highly absorbent fibers. When used in tampons, these fibers can stick to your vaginal wall, and when you remove the tampon, the loosened fibers stay behind inside your body, thereby raising your risk of TSS.
Fortunately, there are safer alternatives, and since the FDA regulates tampon absorbency, all tampons on the market must meet the same absorption guidelines. According to Dr. Philip Tierno, a Clinical Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU Medical Centre, 100 percent cotton tampons “consistently test under detectable levels for TSS toxins.” Based on her own research, Andrea recommends the following brands of tampons and sanitary pads listed below. I’ve also created an exclusive line of organic cotton feminine hygiene products, which you can find in my online store.
- Diva Cup
- Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Organic Cotton Tampons
- Glad Rags Organic Pads
- Organyc 100% Organic Cotton Tampons
Note 1. Videos and images are not part of the original articles.
Note 2. Articles may be edited for content and length