Sep

30

By Karen

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Categories: Chemical free skin care, Hormone Disrupting Chemicals, Phthalates, Toxic Contaminants, unassessed ingredients

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Phthalates Exposure from Skin Care Products Continues to Impact Consumers.

 

After years of debate and little action, the risks of phthalate exposure, from skin care and environmental products such as household cleaners and air fresheners is again in the media.

 

Two democratic senators are pressuring the White House to release a list of chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency claims could be detrimental to the environment and human health. The ‘Chemicals of Concern’ include eight phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, and bisphenol A.

 

Phthalates are known hormone disruptors and can even effect babies before they are born when their mothers are exposed to these chemicals. Phthalates are used as synthetic fragrances and colour fixers in skin care and cosmetic products. Some can be used to help the consistency of a cream or lotion and others are used in the manufacture of nail varnish.

 

The very strong fragrances in some laundry and dish wash detergents as well as air fresheners are fixed with phthalates.

 

At Mt. Sinai Medical Center recent studies have confirmed research carried out several years ago that consumers can have difficulty shedding fat because of the ‘chemical calories’ present in cosmetics such as lotions, shampoo and soap.

 

Chemical ingredients in 70% of cosmetics as well as many household-cleaning products are responsible for disrupting the delicate balance of hormones, throwing off balance the body’s natural weight control system.

 

The study suggests that once an individual is exposed to phthalates through the daily use of personal and skin care products in childhood, the chances of obesity and weight problems as adults becomes high.

 

The researchers obtained results from girls living in East Harlem, by analyzing the children’s urine and measuring their exposure to phthalates.

 

Renowned pediatrician, Professor Phillip Landrigan stated, “The heaviest girls have the highest levels of phthalates in their urine. It goes up as the children get heavier, but it’s most evident in the heaviest kids”.

 

This is just one effect phthalates may have on the human body. A study in Mexico in 2009, of 454 women, 233 who were breast cancer cases, found certain phthalates were associated with breast cancer rates. Lizabeth Lopez-Carrillo led the research at Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health and considers the results may be the ability of certain phthalate compounds to alter gene expression without altering the genetic code itself.

 

The largest concerns of exposure to phthalates are for unborn and young children. They are most at risk as their organs and brains are at crucial developmental stages. Scientists have documented prenatal exposure by measuring four phthalates in the urine of over 300 women to evaluate links to pre-birth exposures of these phthalates and the behavioral, mental and motor development of children when they were 3 years of age.

 

The results showed higher prenatal exposures to two of the phthalates significantly delayed the odds of motor development and the potential of future problems with fine and gross motor coordination. One of the phthalates appeared to cause significant decreases in mental development in girls, while exposure to three of the chemicals were associated with behavioral problems in both the sexes. These included anxiety, depression and withdrawal behavior.

 

Professor Niels Skakkebaek from Denmark, whose research was seconded by Professor Shauna Swan in the U.S., found phthalates responsible for a decrease of semen count and quality. The research also indicated phthalates were responsible for genital malformations in baby boys.

 

It appears that the risks are such that the EPA, who were granted the authority by congress in 1976, to create a list in the Toxic Substances Control Act, have not ever added to it until now.

 

Over the past year, the chemical industry has attempted to block the release of the EPA’s proposed list. The EPA maintains these chemicals present or may present an unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment.

 

It would appear to the layperson; from the varied findings of eminent scientists that fact was well established.

 

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Jan

12

By Karen

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Categories: Contaminants = Infertility?, DNA Damage, Hormone Disrupting Chemicals, Toxic Contaminants, unassessed ingredients

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Fertility – Could Dads’ Cop Some of the Blame for Birth Defects and Infertility Problems?

As more research is done, it is becoming apparent that the roll of the father in the ‘production’ of a baby is more than obviously ‘fleeting’ involvement!
For some time now, pregnant women and those contemplating pregnancy, have been encouraged to avoid smoking and alcohol and take supplements such as folate to ensure a healthy baby.

Generally, no one has given much thought to the father’s health prior to conception or if it is of any consequence. It has been believed that damaged sperm would not be strong enough to fertilize an egg. In times gone by, a childless woman could be thought of as ‘barren’ without even considering the fact that her partner might be the one ‘firing blanks’
It was back in the 1960s when Professor Gladys Friedler, in the process of trials on female rats to determine e how morphine affected their off spring, discovered the impact of the fathers’ role.

Prof. Friedler injected male rodents with morphine and after a few days, mated them with healthy, unaffected females. The pups born to these pairings were under weight and missed all their developmental land-marks.

Shocked by the findings, the Professor spent the next few decades experimenting with alcohol, drugs (both therapeutic and prescription) as well as environmental toxins and found the male rodents affected by these substances produced defective off-spring.

Prof. Friedler claims she was naive to work in this field as she had difficulty publishing her findings and colleagues encouraged her to abandon her studies. She states she was “…initially not aware of the resistance –you were not supposed to look at the fathers’ roles in birth defects…”

Scientists have learnt how women can safe guard their developing babies but it is only relatively recently that research finds many things from paints to pesticides can result in men fathering children with abnormalities. Even not eating a balanced diet can influence the health of a man’s future babies.

Can you see the advertising warning men: “Thinking of fatherhood? … Give up the booze and fags!”

There has been evidence mounting for years through various scientific studies that Phthalates, known endocrine disruptors, found in many products, particularly personal care and cosmetics, fragrances and pacifiers are affecting semen quality, the male reproductive organs and have been found to cause genital malformations in baby boys

In 1996, Prof. Niels Skakkebaek, Research Director, Copenhagen University Hospital, found semen quality has reduced 50% in the past 50 years. There has been an increase of sterility and testicular cancer has risen by 400% in 60 years.
Professor Shanna Swan, Epidemiologist, Rochester University, USA is quoted in the documentary “Men in Danger” as saying “there are 85,000 chemicals in commerce, most of which we know nothing about …. Their effects on carcinogenic potential, metabolism, immune system and reproductive potential…”

Even when the science seems to be clear regarding the dangers of chemicals and toxins, little heed is taken. For decades, women were banned from the lead trade although evidence suggest the metal could cause fetal problems and still births regardless of which parent is exposed. Today, men are protected from lead in the work place but not other dangerous substances from environmental exposures in paints and pesticides, to chemicals included in the ingredients of personal and skincare products.

Employers, by law are required to outline the risks of any chemicals their workers may be exposed to in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDA) It has been found that the sheets are 18 more times likely to mention risks to female than male reproduction.
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The chemical BPA, (Bisphenol-A) used too make plastics more malleable, found in plastic bottles (including baby bottles) and containers, can lining for food and beverages and dental sealants has recently been high-lighted in research as an endocrine disruptor.
A five year study conducted in China and published late 2010, on more than 500 factory workers, comparing those with high urine BPA levels to those recruits with low BPA urine levels. It was found the former subjects had 2 to 4 times the risk of having poor sperm quality in concentration, vitality and mobility.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101028073741.htm

This study followed and supported findings done earlier by John Meeker, assistant Prof. of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan school of Public Health, the leading author. The researchers were quick to point out more study was needed, but found urinary concentrations of BPA may be related to decreased sperm quality and concentration. Sperm concentration was around 23% lower in the men in the study who had the highest BPA in their urine samples. results also suggested a 10% sperm DNA damage.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803175023.htm

BPA is said to mimic the body’s own hormones, according to critics of the chemical, which may lead to negative health effects.

Pesticides exposure is another area of concern. In 1996, the US congress passed the Food Quality Protection Act which required the EPA to initiate the ‘Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP). The object was to screen pesticide chemicals and environmental contaminants for their potential to effect the hormone systems of animals and humans. Even so, there have been thousands of chemicals introduced onto the market that have only been tested in isolation and not in combination with each other.

The most powerful evidence that exposure to chemicals can disrupt the endocrine system comes from nature with fish changing sex from male to female, frogs developing defects (multiple testes or ovaries) and hermaphrodite bears.

The US Dept. Veterans Affairs has recognized Agent Orange exposure as contributing to the birth defects of children whose fathers are Vietnam & Korea Veterans. And as late as October 2010 Parkinson’s Disease was recognized as being related to herbicide exposure.

If we look at statistics, about 10% of reproductive-age couples in the US have fertility problems. 30% each attributed to both the sexes, the remaining 40% is a combination of factors involving both partners.

The UK has similar numbers, but men rate higher at 32% of cases with fertility issues and 25% to problems in the woman. 17% is a combination of problems in both partners and the rest to unexplained causes. In that country 1 in 7 couples have difficulty conceiving at some time.

It appears that more work needs to done on the scientific front as over the past decade patterns have emerged that show declining sperm counts, genital malformations in male babies, memory problems and lower IQ in children, increased number of certain hormone-sensitive types of cancer and early on-set puberty.

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Nov

21

By Karen

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Categories: Hormone Disrupting Chemicals, unassessed ingredients

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Hand Sanitizers; Are they Necessary or just Another Marketing Gimmick?

Avoid toxic chemicals in hand sanitizers.

I was lucky enough to go on a cruise, recently, and I was astounded by the number of hand sanitizers placed around the ship as well as the crew’s persistence in trying to persuade me to use the stuff.

I have been used to seeing the atomizer in hospitals and I guess, with so many people in close proximity to each other the last thing a liner needs to have a health crisis on board.

But let’s take a closer look at the burgeoning industry that I would like to call “Germ Warfare”

We are being frightened by graphic advertising from the manufacturers of these products to kill all germs, or rather 99.9% lest we fall for victim to colds, flu or any viral illness. We are encouraged to ‘protect’ our family against the marauding, unseen germs.

 

I would like you to consider how the over use of anti-bacterial products… from hand sanitizers to surface sprays and cleaners, might, in the long run affect our immune system and therefore general health. Many of the ingredients in the products have not been thoroughly tested for human safety, while others, through research, show toxicity even at low doses.

 

Interestingly, a study by the University of Virginia has shown that alcohol-based hand sanitizers didn’t significantly decrease the number of people infected with a cold or flu. Of 100 volunteers who used a hand sanitizer, 54 became sick with a cold or flu, while 66 of 100 people who didn’t use it suffered from a virus.

What is startling is that, while many people think hand sanitizers are effective and active for a long time after application, (call me suspicious, but that could be to do with advertising!) the fact is, according to Dr. Philip Tierno Jr from NYU Langone Medical Center “Alcohol sanitizers last only a minute or two and must be reapplied when recontamination occurs”

 

Even the U.S. Center for Disease Control admits that hand sanitizers will not kill all germs. And when reading the ingredients label of a hand sanitizer, the list includes several ingredients, not yet tested for safety in cosmetics. The remainder has been found to be irritants, toxins and carcinogens.

 

Add to that information is a study from researchers from the National University of Ireland that found a common disinfectant and antimicrobial agent used in hand sanitizers, benzalkonium chloride, has shown the ability to develop resistance to some antibiotics. The scientists found that by adding increasing amounts of the disinfectant to bacteria, not only does the bacteria survive the chemical, but also a commonly used antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, even when the tested bacteria has not been exposed to the antibiotic.

 

And there is more bad news for benzalkonium chloride, as the chemical is suspected human immune system toxicant, respiratory tract irritant, have reproduction & development effects, eye and skin irritant and can cause gastrointestinal distress if ingested. So just don’t use a product with this chemical as an ingredient if you plan to handle food or water, or touch your lips or eyes.

 

The chemical is yet to be determined safe for pregnant and nursing women or children under the age of 2. Benzalkonium chloride is the main cause of asthma and dermatitis in health care workers and professional cleaning staff.

 

Triclosan is another popular ingredient in sanitizers, both personal and household products. This chemical is toxic to humans, affecting the thyroid and other hormone systems. Research on a cross section of the American population detected triclosan in the urine of 75% of the more than 2500 people tested. In another study conducted by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine the chemical was detected in the urine of 61% of 90 girls aged from 6 to 8 years.

 

Triclosan contaminates the environment and the water ways it is flushed into from waste water treatment plants as it can not be entirely eliminated. It is toxic to wildlife and marine animals from algae to fish. Scientists have found traces of triclosan in 58% of 85 streams in the U.S.

Triclosan interacts with sunlight and microbes in surface water to form methyl triclosan, a chemical that may bioaccumulate in wild life and humans.

Triclosan and triclocarban have been linked to endocrine disruption, with potential adverse impacts on sexual and neurological development.

 

Alcohol, either ethyl or isopropyl is the main and active ingredient in hand sanitizers, making up more than 60% of the entire product. It is the alcohol that kills the bacteria and viruses.

However, ethyl alcohol is a penetration enhancer, taking the other chemicals deeper into the skin and into the blood stream. Not ideal if the other ingredients are toxic or even questionable.

Isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol, is from the petrochemical industry, is extremely drying and is toxic to the nervous system. It is absorbed through the skin and from inhalation of the vapors.

 

Fragrance is used in everything. We are even encouraged to purchase instruments that will deliver constant puffs of artificial fragrance into our home to make them smell ‘fresh’! But these fragrances can be made up of more than 4000 different chemicals, many of them toxic.  It is recognized that these chemicals can accumulate in the body. Phthalates, used to ensure the fragrance lingers longer are known hormone disruptors. Scientists have studied the effects of phthalates on baby boys and have evidence that they interrupt the babies’ sexual development.

 

These are just a few of the ingredients in hand sanitizers, you might be bored if I listed and explained them all. So, are we really waging a war against germs? Or are we being suckered into yet another product to add to the shopping list, fearful that we might be on the brink of a health risking epidemic.

It has been shown by numerous health studies that good old soap and water is more effective in cleaning hands than packaged hand sanitizers, without the possible dangers of adding yet more chemicals to our bodies and into the environment.

Add to that the positive effect on the immune system in building anti-bodies to naturally fight disease and I’d say we can well do with out these little bottles of poison that are rapidly multiplying through out the world.

Remember, even according to the manufactures, hand sanitizers only kill 99.9% of germs… what happens to the remaining .1%?

They mutate and become stronger, eventually resisting all methods of killing them.

 

Associate professor Rolf Halden, of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, a biologist and engineer, and his team conducted a series of experiments aimed at tracking the environmental course of the active ingredients in personal care products. The disturbing results of their research indicate that triclosan and triclocarban first aggregate in wastewater sludge and are transferred to soils and natural water environments, where they were observed to persist for months or years.

 

Antimicrobials were first used in hand soaps in the 1980s, and by early 2000, more than 75% of liquid soaps contained triclosan and/or triclocarban in a billion dollar a year industry, heavily promoted by the manufacturers in what can only be described as scare mongering.   A disturbing statistic is 97% of American women tested were found to have antimicrobial in their breast milk.

 

Bioaccumulation of antimicrobial chemicals in animal species has been noted, this is where the reading of the harmful substance is far greater than the initial exposure.

 

The above excerpt of Prof. Halden from:-

http://asunews.asu.edu/20101112_antimicrobialresearch