Our skin is our bodies largest organ and what we put on it really does matter. A percentage of everything we place on our skin is either absorbed into our bloodstream or penetrates within the layers of our skin and certain chemicals have the ability to disrupt the way our body naturally functions.
On average we use 9 personal care products a day being exposed to 126 unique chemical ingredients, all that before we may even walking out our front door in the morning. The most frightening of these chemicals are ones we refer to as Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s).
So, what exactly does an EDC do I hear you ask, exactly what the name suggests, it has the ability to interact with our Endocrine system and cause disruption to its normal function and that’s a lot of things. Our endocrine system is responsible for our bodies hormone production, it helps to regulate our metabolism, growth and development, sleep and mood as well sexual and reproductive function.
EDC’s are found commonly in personal care products and there is an increasing level of concern around their adverse health effects, particularly during fetal, neonatal and childhood development. These chemicals are able to mimic our natural hormones and disrupt their normal function, they have been linked to things such as increased risk and proliferation of certain cancers, reproductive issues and birth defects. New evidence also suggests that when pregnant women are exposed to chemicals such as Phthalates, parabens, and phenols found in personal care products their daughters are more likely to enter puberty earlier highlighting the hormonal health effects these chemicals can have.
Swapping to natural skin care products may seem a little daunting at first especially if this is the first time you’ve looked into – to make the transition a little easier for you, below are the top 3 ingredients to ditch
Parabens are used as a preservative in skin care products and have been shown to have oestrogenic activity affecting hormonal balance, their use has been linked to and may potentially proliferate some breast cancer cells.
Phthalates are used to moisturize or soften the skin and create flexibility in plastics, they are serious endocrine disruptors and prenatal exposure to these chemicals has been linked to birth defects. They have also been linked to reduced sperm count, increased sperm abnormalities and reduced function.
In Australia, you need to declare in your products if you have used a fragrance, however it is up to the individual companies if they wish to list what the fragrance is actually made from. These are often made with a concoction of chemicals including Phthalates that can have varying detrimental health effects. It may be listed as either fragrance, fragrances, parfum or parfums. To limit your exposure, you can avoid any products with fragrances unless it is noted that they are exclusively derived from natural essential oils.
At Essendon Natural Health we have practitioners who are passionate about working with their clients to understand their health concerns and the causes behind it.
Written by Natalie Earles – Clinical Naturopath