By: Shelagh McNally for Uterus1
The old adage “you have to suffer to be beautiful” has taken a dangerous turn. The pursuit of beauty is now dangerous to your health. Researchers have found a link between chemicals found in cosmetics and personal care products, and cancer.
Labels on our cosmetics and personal care products have given us a false sense of security. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), cosmetics and personal care products are the least regulated products. The FFDCA does not require pre-market safety testing, review, or approval for cosmetics. Once the product is out in the marketplace there is almost no monitoring. Any report of adverse effects is on a volunteer basis by cosmetic companies.
Over the last 60 years, over 80,000 synthetic chemicals have been invented, many from petroleum or coal tar. Almost 90 percent of the 10,500 ingredients used in our personal care products and cosmetics have never been evaluated for safety. Yet according to the National Research Council, "No toxicity information is available for over 80 percent of the chemicals in everyday use products. Less than 20 percent have ever been tested for acute toxic effects and less than 10 percent have been tested for chronic, reproductive or mutagenic effects."
But really, what’s a little bit of diethanolamine in the toothpaste or sodium lauryl sulfate in the shampoo going to do? Probably nothing on their own – but we don’t have just one single exposure to one lone chemical in one product. By the time the average woman has finished her daily grooming she will have been exposed to over 200 different chemicals – chemicals applied directly to the skin, which is our major organ of absorption.
When researchers started looking at the cumulative effect of chemical combinations stored in the body, a dangerous synergy was found. Some of these chemicals are carcinogens (cancer-causing), some are neurotoxins (affecting the brain and motor functions), and some are hormone disruptors. The symptoms associated with these chemicals are listed as lung, liver, breast and kidney cancer, birth defects, headaches, nervous system disruptions, eczema, depression and rashes: a high price to pay for full volume hair.
“Medical researchers have demonstrated that trace chemicals of some widely used synthetic organic materials can damage cultured human tissue. The effects don’t just accumulate, they mushroom,” said Devra Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health.
In 2002, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, an environmental and public health coalition, started a public awareness campaign against phthalates. Phthalates, often used in deodorants, hair sprays and body lotions, are a large family of industrial chemicals linked to permanent birth defects in the male reproductive system. Europe has since banned phthalates and certain North American companies are phasing it out. More than 600 companies have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to remove hazardous chemicals and replace them with safe alternatives within three years.
There are plenty of alternatives on the market that are free of chemicals. The Environmental Working Group has created the Skin Deep Cosmetic Database where you can check on your favorite product and find out how safe it is and determine the level of toxicity. http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com