New study: Overusing Cosmetics may trigger early Menopause
A group of chemicals known as Pthalates have been found to increase the risk of cancer, diabetes, obesity. And now new research from Washington University, Missouri, indicates they may also cause early Menopause. Study shows that exposure to phthalates, through the standard cosmetics and other products could cause women to go through menopause as much as 2.3 years earlier than they normally would. Not only would that be inconvenient, but it could be dangerous, as early onset menopause can cause a number of other health problems. Previous researches have ultimately linked early menopause with higher rates of bone loss, heart problems and strokes in women.
"Early menopause has a lot of impact on your health," said Dr. Natalia Grindler, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Washington University's School of Medicine and one of the authors of the study, at this week's American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference in San Diego. "We absolutely think these chemicals have the potential to affect ovarian function and human reproduction."
In the study, Grindler and her colleagues examined the levels of phthalates in the blood or urine of 5,700 women. Those with the highest amounts were found to have gone through menopause an average of 2.3 years before the others. Menopause typically occurs in women around the age of 51, so those exposed to the highest levels of phthalates were going through it at around age 49.
But Grindler told those at the conference that some women may be reaching menopause 15 years early, in their mid-30s. She suggested that the women may not only have been exposed to phthalates through makeup, but also through the eating of more packaged foods.
What are Phthalates?
Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and to help hair spray, nail polish, and perfume, adhere to your hair and skin. They’re also used as solvents, to help dissolve materials into a solution. You’ll find them in hundreds of products, including:
* Vinyl flooring
* Lubricating oils
* Plastic clothes (like raincoats)
* Automotive plastics
* Plastic bags, garden hoses, inflatable toys
* Personal care products like soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, nail polishes
* Packaged foods
Phthalates have been linked to all sorts of health problems, and have also been found to be widespread. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers have found measurable levels in the general population, indicating that “phthalate exposure is widespread in the U.S. population.”
Further, the CDC states that adult women have higher levels than men do of phthalates used in soaps, body washes, shampoos, cosmetics, and other personal care products.
So how can you look for products without these potentially harmful chemicals? Read the ingredients in all of your beauty products. According to the organization Pollution in People, you can identify phthalates in your beauty products by their chemical names, or abbreviations. DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in things like nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. BzBP is also used in some personal-care products.
How to Reduce Your Exposure?
More and more studies are linking these chemicals to serious health problems. Taking steps to reduce your exposure to phthalates is a no-brainer:
* Try toxin-free nail polish (often called “3-free”), like that made by Vapor Beauty, or go without nail polish completely.
* Choose natural deodorants as often as you can.
* Do your research on your makeup—buy only from companies that care about using safe ingredients; check out my post for where to shop for safer ingredients.
* Phthalates are commonly found in synthetic air fresheners including spray, gel and plug-in varieties. Those that claim “all natural ingredients” may still contain phthalates. Flowers, potpourri (without synthetic additives), or an open window are healthier ways to freshen your home.
* Seek out eco-friendly cleaning products, or make your own. Lotions, cleansers, scented candles, laundry detergents and other personal care and household products that list “fragrance”, “perfume” or even “natural fragrance” as ingredients often contain phthalates. Choosing products, which are scented only with essential oils or are labeled as “phthalate-free”, helps to reduce exposure to phthalates through personal care products.
* Buy unpackaged produce, or use products only from companies that use non-leachable packaging.
* Use glass whenever possible instead of plastic.
* Eat less processed food. Food, especially when fatty, is a major source of phthalate exposure, and processing can up the concentration. One study, for example, showed that prepared lunches had high levels of phthalates because food workers wore plastic gloves during prep.
* Avoid plastics with recycling code #3. Look at the recycling symbol on products when you purchase plastic products. Plastics marked with the #3 symbol contain PVC. Buy plastic wrap and bags made from polyethylene, such as GLAD. For food storage, use glass containers or plastic containers marked with recycling codes other than the #3. If you do use plastic containers, do not heat or microwave food in them.
* Vinyl shower curtains and shower curtain liners often contain phthalates, and heat from a shower could increase their release into the air. Shower curtains and liners made from cloth or those labeled as “phthalate-free” or “PVC-free” are a safer alternative to conventional, vinyl shower curtains and liners.
* Vinyl flooring and window treatments are typically made from PVC plastics, which contain phthalates. Window treatments made from natural materials such as cotton, linen, wood, or bamboo are a healthier alternative to those made form vinyl. Selecting natural flooring made from natural materials like wood, bamboo, or natural linoleum can further reduce phthalate exposure at home.
* Ventilate. Studies show indoor air tends to have higher loads than outdoor, most likely because countless household items and building materials contain phthalates that can end up in dust and air. Also, try to keep phthalate-containing materials, such as vinyl tiles and imitation leather furniture, out of kids' rooms.
Sources and Additional Information: