A study released this week in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives showed that using personal care products without toxic endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) for 3 days dramatically reduces exposure levels in girls. These chemicals have been linked with many health disorders including a recent findings showing a very strong link with breast cancer in human and animal studies. Malignant breast tumors are the leading cause of cancer in women worldwide in terms of incidence and mortality.
Cosmetics, fragrances, and other personal care products are a possible source of human exposure to potentially endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates, parabens, and phenols especially for woman and adolescent girls. Women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they are disproportionately exposed to these chemicals. Adolescent girls may be at particular risk of exposure through this route. For example, one small study found that the average adult woman uses approximately 12 individual personal care products each day, whereas the average teenage girl uses 17. Personal care products are a source of exposure to potentially endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and benzophenone-3 (BP-3) for adolescent girls.
Personal care product use is widespread, and human exposure to these chemicals is nearly ubiquitous, with mono-ester phthalate metabolites of DEP, DnBP, and DiBP detected in the urine of more than 96% of Americans. Methyl and propyl parabens were found in more than 90% of individuals, BP-3 in 97%, and triclosan in 75%
The three phthalates most commonly used in personal care products are diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is found in scented products, including perfumes, deodorants, soaps, and shampoo; and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), which are used in nail polish and cosmetics. The parabens commonly used in personal care products include methyl, ethyl, butyl, and propyl paraben, which are used as preservatives and antibacterial agents in cosmetics. Two phenols are also commonly used in personal care products. Triclosan is an antimicrobial compound used in liquid soaps, acne cream, deodorants, shaving cream, and certain toothpastes. Benzophenone-3 (BP-3), also known as oxybenzone, is used in sunscreens, lip balm, and other sun protection products.
In a study of 100 Latina girls using personal care products that did not contain these chemicals for just 3 days significantly lowered their urinary concentrations of the chemicals. Urine samples were analyzed for phthalate metabolites, parabens, triclosan, and BP-3. The study found most of the EDC’s were significantly lowered after 3 days but not all. Urinary concentrations of mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) decreased by 27.4% on average over the 3-day intervention but no significant changes were seen in urinary concentrations of mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP) and mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP). Methyl and propyl paraben concentrations decreased by 43.9% and 45.4% respectively. Unexpectedly, concentrations of ethyl and butyl paraben concentrations increased, although concentrations were low overall and not detected in almost half the samples. Triclosan concentrations decreased by 35.7% and BP-3 concentrations decreased by 36.0%.
This study demonstrates that choosing personal care products that are labeled to be free of phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and BP-3, can reduce personal exposure to possible endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Kim G. Harley,et al 2016. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1510514. Reducing Phthalate, Paraben, and Phenol Exposure from Personal Care Products in Adolescent Girls: Findings from the HERMOSA Intervention Study.