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Choose Healthy Body Care

Updated on April 2, 2010

Since The Skin Let's It In...

Our main routes of exposure for chemicals are through inhalation, ingestion, the eyes and the skin. The chemicals bombarding us in everyday living exceed general awareness. Many of these chemicals are stored in the fatty tissues causing numerous health problems. The worst are called PBT chemicals or persistent, bio-accumulative toxins.

We usually put old news behind us, but I want to bring up a study that shouldn’t be forgotten. You may recall it from the news back in 2005. The Environmental Working Group conducted a landmark study entitled “Body Burden: The Pollution in Newborns.” It wasn’t very long before that study was conducted that scientists thought the placenta shielded umbilical cord blood and the developing baby from most pollutants and chemicals in the environment. That is definitely not the case. The EWG made this statement: “At this critical time when organs, vessels, membranes and systems are knit together from single cells to finished form in a span of weeks, the umbilical cord carries not only the building blocks of life, but also a steady stream of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides that cross the placenta as readily as residues from cigarettes and alcohol.”

The study represents the first reported cord blood tests for 261 of the targeted chemicals and first reported detections in cord blood for 209 compounds. Let’s consider some important study highlights:

· Testing 10 babies born in August and September 2004 in U.S. hospitals, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in their umbilical cord blood. (The blood samples were collected by the Red Cross after the cord was cut.)

· The cord blood harbored pesticides, consumer package ingredients, wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage.

· Among those detected were eight perfluorochemicals used in stain and oil repellents in fast food packaging, clothes and textiles; also, the Teflon chemical PFOA, characterized as a likely human carcinogen.

· There were dozens of widely used brominated flame retardants and their toxic by-products.

· Numerous pesticides were present.

· Of the 287 chemicals found in the cord blood, 180 causes cancer in humans or animals and 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system.

· 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.

Even today, DDT is showing up in children and adults who were born well after its banning in 1972. However, people are beginning to question what is in their personal care products. The stop smoking patches as well as those for birth control, weight loss and hormone balance have opened some eyes to the fact that what goes on the skin shows up internally.

Organic Beauty author, Josephine Fairley, wrote that up to 60 percent of skin products are absorbed into the circulatory system. Also, George Magazine in its Spring ’05 issue, quoted a natural skin care company out of Britain: “The human body can absorb up to 30 pounds of moisturizer over a 60-year period.”

Do a quick mental exercise with the body care products you’ve been using everyday for years. Think of all the shampoos, conditioners, hair coloring products, deodorants, moisturizers, after shaves, soaps and cosmetics that have been swabbed, splashed, rubbed and sprayed on your skin. Do yourself a favor and read the label ingredients. If you haven’t read labels much, you'll be surprised when you key in on all the unfamiliar chemicals.

Herbal source ingredients are often listed by their botanical names and shouldn't be confused with synthetic chemicals. Some examples are:

· Rosmarinus Officinalis (rosemary)

· Matricaria chamomilla (chamomile)

· Aloe barbadensis or arborescens (aloe vera)

· Oenothera biennis (evening primrose oil)

· Mentha aquatica (mint, lime)

Synthetic ingredients are often derived from petroleum. They’ll have longer names such as:

  • Disperse Black 9
  • dipropylene glycol methyl ether
  • 2-amino6-chloro-4-Nitrophenol

Since body care products are not regulated, words such as all natural, hypoallergenic or cruelty-free may be listed on the container. Even seeing the word "organic" can be very misleading.  As long as 70% of the product is organic, it can say, “Made with organic ingredients.” What is the other 30%? Are there synthetic petrochemicals, potential carcinogens or harsh chemicals that may cause allergic reactions in some people? How do you feel about ingredients that have been tested on animals? If the product has “Certified "USDA Organic ingredients” you can trust the quality.

Personal care or body care products are produced by a highly profitable industry that resists government regulation, lobbying against it throughout the years. It is estimated that the expenditures worldwide just for cosmetics alone is $18 billion annually. A small number of multinational corporations dominate the industry, having originated early in the 20th century. Because federal law on personal care products is riddled with loopholes, there is no requirement for pre-market safety tests. The burden of proof for any product hazards lies with the consumer.

What is the bottom line? Sitting on your shelves may be products containing toxic heavy metals, skin irritants, potential carcinogens, endocrine disruptors causing developmental and reproductive abnormalities, allergic reactions, and nerve damage. Look for healthier products that will nourish and enhance health rather than add to the toxic burden of living in a chemicalized world. You’ll actually feel better having made wiser choices. You'll look better because the skin is getting TLC.

Don’t forget what is passed on to the next generation if you are still in childbearing years planning to start a family. Caveat emptor—let the buyer beware.


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