Personal Care Products and Hormone Disruption
Juliet M Ghodsian, ND
The David Suzuki Foundation has compiled a list of the the twelve most dangerous chemicals found in personal care products. (See Table 1) At least 80% of the products used by the average Canadian on his/her body contains at least one of these chemicals. Of these toxins, at least 7 are considered Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). These EDCs have the ability to affect the activity, production, and elimination of hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone DHEA and cortisol.
What does this mean?
It means the chemicals that are added to your body lotion, face soap, shampoo and toothpaste have the ability to change the amount of estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone that you have in your body, how it behaves inside you, and how well you can get rid of it.
Why is this important?
Disrupting the delicate balance of hormone levels in the body can have dramatic effects on your health over time (See Table 2). It is important to consider the simple element of low level daily chemical exposure as a potential underlying contributor in all types of female health concerns.
Everything from a simple case of annoying adult acne, to a severe debilitating endometriosis, to that stubborn weight gain around your hips and thighs. Consider the possibility that what you are rubbing into your skin could be problematic for your long term health.
What should I do?
• Discuss with your ND whether chemicals in your personal care products could be contributing to your symptoms.
• Consider having salivary hormone testing done. Are your levels too high? Has your Endocrine System been disrupted?
• Consider blood testing for signs of endocrine disturbance: blood sugar, insulin, inflammatory markers
• If hormones have been disrupted, begin a systematic program of hormonal detoxification and rebalancing with you ND.
• Evaluate the products you use, keeping in mind these rules of thumb:
◦ The longer a product stays on your skin the more is absorbed
◦ (shampoo is washed off quickly, sunscreen is on all day)
◦ The thinner skin on the face absorbs more than skin on your arms, or legs
◦ How often do I use this product? Daily versus once a week
◦ How many chemicals are present in the product?
• Consider slowly replacing some or all of the products you use with safer alternatives. Remember, what you put on your skin ends up in your blood stream. Any decrease in your total exposure over time is beneficial to your health.
• Products that are considered safe to ingest are also safe to put on your skin. Therefore, all natural plant derived oils are safe to use as cleansers or moisturizers for face and body
◦ Coconut oil, olive oil, almond oil, rosa mosqueta oil, argan oil, sea buckthorn oil, shea butter, and tamanu oil are all often used in natural personal care products.
• Visit the website www.exg.org/skindeep for additional information and resources about healthy personal care products
|**BHA and BHT||Hormone disruptor, allergies, neurotoxic, immunotoxic||Lipstick, moisturizers, sunscreen, deodorant, anti-perspirant, make-up|
|Coal Tar Dyes||Contaminate with heavy metals, neurotoxic, contact dermatitis, respiratory toxicity||Shampoo, hair dye, anti-DEAitch creams|
|**DEA (diethanolamine)||Suspected reproductive toxin, possible carcinogen*, contact dermatitis||Soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, bubble bath|
|**Dibutyl phthalate||Hormone disruptor, reproductive toxin||Nail polish|
|Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives||Carcinogenic, dermatitis, joint pain, chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, respiratory irritation, weakens immune system, neurotoxic||Hair products, sun screen, nail polish, anti-perspirants|
|**Parabens||Hormone disruptor, carcinogenic*, neurotoxic||Body wash, cleansers, shampoo, toothpaste, hair products|
|**Fragrance or Parfum||Hormone disruptor, headaches, dizzyness, behavioral changes, depression, irritability, asthma||Perfumes, colognes, any scented products, often found in “scentless products” which are then covered with a scent masking agent|
|PEG compounds||Potential carcinogen* contamination, toxic to kidney and nervous system, skin and lung irritant||Hair dye, sunscreen ,deodorant, anti-bacterial soap|
|Petrolatum||Blocks skin excretion of toxins, often contaminated with carcinogens*||Moisturizers, hair products, lip balm|
|**Siloxanes||Hormone disruptors, reproductive toxins||Deodorants, moisturizers, hair products|
|Sodium Laureth sulfate||Often contaminated with carcinogens*||Shampoo, conditioner, soap, facial cleaners, toothpaste|
|**Triclosan||Suspected hormone disruptor, possible cause of antibiotic resistant bacteria||Facial cleaners and moisturizers, body wash, anti-bacterial hand soaps and wipes, toothpastes|
** Hormone disruptor= EDC (Endocrine Disrupting Chemical)
*Carcinogens/Carcinogenic= Cancer causing agent
Information courtesy of “Toxic Chemicals in Personal Care Products” Vital Link Spring 2012 Volume 20 Issue I
|Signs and symptoms of EDCs in females|
|Early onset menstruationPremature development
PMS (migraines, breast tenderness, cramping, acne, mood swings, bloating)
Bleeding between periods
Stubborn weight gain around hips, thighs and buttocks