There have been several studies suggesting that environmental exposure to widely used chemicals are another factor that contribute to people getting fat. Many synthetic chemicals are lipophilic (fat loving), meaning they concentrate in our body fat, accumulating over a lifetime. This means that even if you eat organic and get enough exercise, your weight loss efforts could be hampered because of your personal care regime.
Cosmetics and personal care products are a huge source of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which also wreak havoc with the balancing of your hormone levels. Beyond a well-established list of prohibited and restricted ingredients, manufacturers of personal care products do not need approval from any authority before launching a new product onto market. As a result, hundreds of questionable chemicals are included in the products that many of us rub into our skin each day (and your skin, your largest organ, can absorb up to 70% of what you put on it).
Ever wonder why you sometimes feel overwhelmed when browsing the department store perfume counters? Perfumes, in general, are able to containa multitude of poisonous chemical compounds, because the ingredients used to concoct the fragrances don’t have to be disclosed. This means fragrances can be made up of any number from a stock base of 3,100 chemicals. Again, it’s another example of how an industry is allowed to get away with selling you a poisonous product that is detrimental to your health.
In May 2010, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned a study involving 17 brand name perfumes, colognes and body sprays for men and women. The study found that, on average, up to 14 chemicals in each sample weren’t even listed on the ingredients list. In addition, these ‘secret’ chemicals had previously been shown to cause symptoms such as headaches and nausea, but were also linked to endocrine toxicity, abnormal foetal development, oestrogen disruption, sperm damage and even cancer. This is because fragrance chemicals can be both inhaled and absorbed by the skin, so many of them end up in your body.
By the way, anything that says ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ — whether it’s a household product, such as an air freshener, fabric softener or candle, or personal care product, including eau de toilettes and parfums — also contains toxic, hormone-disrupting ingredients.
The most harmful ones you should definitely avoid are:
Formaldehyde: a preservative found in moisturisers, cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, eyeshadows and mascaras, as well as building materials and household products. It’s harmful to the immune system, is a known carcinogen and is the main embalming chemical used to preserve dead bodies for burial.
Parabens: are found in, but not limited to, shampoos, conditioners, body washes, tooth whiteners, toothpastes, facial cleansers, sunscreens and moisturisers. Parabens have estrogenic effects on the body, linking them to both breast and prostate cancers. In 2004, a study by the UK’s School of Animal and Microbal Sciences at the University of Reading found parabens in samples of breast tumours; 18 out of 20 were found to have come from personal care products applied to the skin.
Triclosan: an antibacterial found in moisturisers, hand sanitisers, shampoos, conditioners, antiperspirants and toothpastes that can interfere with the metabolism of thyroid hormone and contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Imidazolidinyl Urea: a formaldehyde-releasing preservative used in cosmetics and hair products. It is one of the most widely used preservative and is found in almost all water-based cosmetics, toiletries and pharmaceutical preparations. It is even often found in products labelled ‘hypoallergenic’, but can cause joint pain, fatigue, immune dysfunction, contact dermatitis, headaches, depression and eye damage, and is a known carcinogen.
SLS: or sodium lauryl sulfate provides the foam in most commercial soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other foaming products. It is cheap to produce, and mimics the effects of the oestrogen hormone. Because of this, it has been implicated in causing PMS, menopausal symptoms, a decrease of male fertility and an increase in female cancers (breast and ovarian), where oestrogen levels are known to be involved.