Finally! A study was just released by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine that establishes a causal connection between chemicals in our beauty cosmetics and food to serious health issues in women. For years, my friends laughed at me because I’ve encouraged them to swap out their expensive chemical filled products with healthier, natural solutions (and yes they work). Why?
Over the years, emerging science has raised questions about the impact of everyday exposure to toxic chemicals found in personal care and food products has on human health. If you want to know more about this all you have to do is read the work of the Environmental Working Group, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and the Breast Cancer Fund amongst others, and the list of 1,100 common chemicals banned from cosmetics by the European Union. The EU has taken the precautionary approach that chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects simply don’t belong in cosmetics – regardless of the concentration of the chemical being used.
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine released the first study that examines the effects of common chemicals found in cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, and more and the affect they have on young female development. The study published in the journal, Environmental Health Studies, demonstrates that early exposure to three common chemical classes , phenols, phthalates, phytoestrogens – all endocrine disruptors – may interfere with the timing of puberty and could cause health complications later in life. Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body’s endocrine, or hormone system.
Dr. Mary Wolff, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Oncological Sciences at Mount Sinai School of Medicine said, “Research has shown that early pubertal development in girls can have adverse social and medical effects, including cancer and diabetes later in life.” She goes on to say, “Our research shows a connection between chemicals that girls are exposed to on a daily basis and either delayed or early development. While more research is needed, these data are an important first step in continuing to evaluate the impact of these common environmental agents in putting girls at risk.”
Phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens are found in broad range of consumer products like cosmetics including nail polish, perfumes, lotions, shampoos, where they carry fragrance. Some of these chemicals are used to increase flexibility and durability and plastics like PVC or used in medication coatings and nutritional supplements to make them time released.
Researchers collected and studied urine samples of 1,151 girls from East Harlem (a unique minority group considered high risk), greater Cincinnati’s and northern California. The girls ranged in age from 6-8 at the beginning of study and between 7-9 and the conclusion of the analysis.
Results of the study showed that three classes of chemical compounds were widely detectable in the study population and that exposure to specific chemicals could lead to early breast development . Some of the highest exposures and the strongest links were seen with phytoestrogens and phthalates. Two subsets of phthalates, one phenol and two phytoestrogens were linked with later onset of puberty.
Dr. Wolf goes on to say, “We believe that there are certain periods of vulnerability in the development of the mammary gland, and exposure to these chemicals may influence breast cancer risk in adulthood,” she continues, “dietary habits may also have an impact.” She further states, “Exposure to these chemicals is extremely common . . . . as such, while the association between chemicals and pubertal development seems small, the impact on the overall population is significant.”
By the way, the European Union banned phthalates from their products several years ago, why hasn’t the United States?
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