Clean Beauty Products May Reduce Teens’ Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Soap may give you a squeaky clean feeling, but it also may give you an unhealthy dose of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The endocrine system produces hormones that help to regulate a wide variety of bodily processes. Previous research has found that personal care products which contain these chemicals may wreak havoc on endocrine function, which could affect your mood and even increase your risk of certain diseases, like breast cancer. Now, new research has found that using personal care products that are free of certain chemicals can reduce concentrations of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the body. The study was published in Environmental Health Perspectives and included 100 Latina girls, ages 14 to 18, participating in the HERMOSA (Health and Environmental Research in Make-up of Salinas Adolescents) study. Researchers gave the girls a three day supply of lotion, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, makeup, and soaps that were labeled free of phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and benzophenone-3 (BP-3). The girls were asked to refrain from using any personal care items other than those provided. Researchers tested the girl’s urine samples for these chemicals and their breakdown products at the beginning and end of the three days, and found that at the end of the trial:

  • Concentrations of several endocrine-disrupting chemicals decreased: mono-ethyl phthalate concentrations decreased by 27.4%; methyl and propyl paraben concentrations (the most commonly detected parabens) decreased by 43.9 % and 45.4%, respectively; triclosan concentrations decreased by 35.7%; and BP-3 concentrations decreased by 36%.
  • About half of the girls had a small increase in ethyl and butyl paraben after using the test products; however, the increase was not statistically significant.

While more research is needed on the long-term health impacts of using personal care products that are free of certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals, these findings suggest that making small changes, like switching soaps, could reduce your exposure to these chemicals. This discovery may be especially important for teenage girls like those included in this study, since they are at a developmental stage that involves many significant hormonal changes. If you (or your daughter!) want to cut down on potentially harmful chemicals, just look for products that say, for example, “phthalate-free” or “paraben-free” on the label.

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives

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