Dr Dingle's Blog / reducing esposure
New research suggests that a 25% reduction in exposure to just 4 chemicals commonly found in the home would reduce diabetes cases by around 13% which could save billions of dollars in annual health costs.
Increasing evidence suggests that synthetic chemicals commonly found in the environment contribute to metabolic disorders, especially obesity and diabetes. Previous publications have associated prevalent diabetes with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), persistent chlorinated pesticides, phthalates and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Separate studies found similar connections between diabetes and exposure to DDT, PCBs and perfluoroalkyl.
In this study of 1,016 participants they found significant connections between the four chemicals investigated and a number of different diseases and found reduced exposure to all four chemicals would lead to a likely reduction 13% in diabetes cases. This study confirms substantial contribution, especially of mixtures of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, to adult type 2 diabetes, and large annual costs of medical care. A previous reported a significant positive relationship between phthalates in the blood and lowered insulin secretion, increased insulin resistance or both.
While this study supports efforts to reduce chemical exposures to reduce the burden and costs of diabetes there are many other disease states including cardiovascular disease and cancer that would also likely be reduced.
In November 2008, a 12 year old boy, Daniel Hurley collapsed and died in his bathroom 'after using too much deodorant'. The hearing into his death found that “he was overcome by solvents in the Lynx Vice spray”. Unfortunately there were no repercussions for the company as the warnings are spelt out on the can. Despite the warning being there, my own research shows that around 1% of people actually read and understand the labels. However, this is not the first, nor is it the last. On July 12 1998, 10 years earlier a young boy in the UK, this time 16 years old who had an obsession with smelling nice died after months of spraying his entire body with deodorant. Jonathon Campbell had 10 times the lethal dose of propane and butane in his blood. While these are tragic outcomes, the real problems lies in the millions of kids (and adults) around the world who are slowly poisoning themselves. The warning signs on most cans reads something like “deliberately concentrating may be harmful or fatal” or for cans sold to kids “must be used in the presence of adults” and the company has no other responsibility to your health than these labels. If people really knew what was in these cans and read these labels closely I am sure they would have second thoughts about using them and giving them to their kids. Unfortunately, the ingredients are not listed and the warning is all in the small print on the back.
The problem with deodorants and antiperspirants is three fold. First the propellant gases like propane and butane are toxic and were implicated in the deaths of both boys. This associated with the fact that they are sprayed upward towards the armpit and headspace means you can’t help but breathe them in. The second is the long list of toxic ingredients used in the deodorants and antiperspirants which you don’t know about and which are absorbed through the skin and thirdly the blocking of our pores by the antiperspirants.
To highlight where the problem starts antiperspirants and deodorants are among the top six products causing adverse skin reactions, including itching, burning, dryness, irritant dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. They have become one of the most frequently purchased products worldwide, surpassed in market share only by soaps and hair care products. Unfortunately, they are also one of the most widely marketed products constantly playing on kids’ emotional health, sex and relationships to sell their toxic products.
Deodorants act to reduce, cover up, or eliminate the odour that develops when bacteria break down perspiration. This is achieved by the use of anti-microbial agents and fragrances. Antiperspirants are distinguished from deodorants by the presence of sweat retarding agents. These agents are based on aluminium complexes and may include aluminium chlorohydrate (ACH), aluminium zirconium chlorohydrate glycine complexes (AZAP) or aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydroxy glycine. While the connection between aluminium in antiperspirants and Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy continue to be explored and debated they seem highly unlikely. Other problems such as a link with breast cancer are much more likely. The action of these chemicals limits the levels of perspiration produced in the underarm and other areas, by slowing the action of the sweat glands. Sweat production is reduced due to the fact that the chemicals produce an obstructive hydroxide gel inside the sweat gland ducts, limiting the amount of perspiration that can be excreted. However, we were meant to sweat. Sweating provides a valuable service to our body by eliminating waste products, and cooling down the body. As a result antiperspirants may lead to a build up of toxins in this area just near the breast.
Antiperspirant and deodorant ingredients include anti-microbials such as chlorhexidine d-1-gluconate and triclosan, odour eliminators such as zinc ricitioleate and various perfumes. Other ingredients which may cause contact allergies include formaldehyde, atranorm, evernic acid, fumarprotocetraric acid, cetalkonium chloride, fenticlor, gluteraldehyde, zirconium and dibutyl phthalate. Many of the same chemicals you would find in toilet deodorants. Starting to sound a bit smelly isn’t it. Formaldehyde is a skin irritant and thought to be carcinogenic, and phthalates are suspected of producing endocrine (hormone)‑disrupting effects as they are able to mimic the action of oestrogen and upset our hormone balance. In one study diethyl phthalate, which is a solvent, was detected in 2 out of 8 deodorants. The breast, as a result, is also exposed to a range of these oestrogenic chemicals applied to the underarm and breast area. These cosmetics are left on the skin in the appropriate area, allowing a more direct dermal absorption route for breast exposure to oestrogenic chemicals and allowing absorbed chemicals to escape systemic metabolism. It is also worth noting that the large increase in breast cancer over the last 30 years has been a result of an increase in oestrogen receptive cancers.
Research has shown that repeated application of deodorants permeate the skin resulting in accumulation of some of these chemicals. According to one study butyl paraben was systemically absorbed, metabolized and excreted in urine following application to the skin in a cream preparation. The study conducted over 2 weeks showed concentration peaked in urine 8-12 hours after application. Isn’t it interesting to know that the chemicals you put on the outside of your body get in?
Then the problem is exacerbated even more when they are used in spray containers that we direct towards our face. If your lungs are a uniquely designed sponge for air, they are also a sponge for the contaminants that manage to evade all of your respiratory system’s defenses. All the ingredients and the propellants are rapidly absorbed into the body and detectable throughout the body within minutes to hours.
The safer option is to use roll on deodorant. Unfortunately, it does not look as sexy in the advertisements, but it is much safer. The next step is then to move toward natural products and organic when you can. We have evolved with natural plant products over millions of years and as a general rule they are much safer than synthetic products manufactured from petrol. I also think it is about time we stop overselling these products and teaching kids that too much fragrance can be toxic… and who would want to smell like a toilet block anyway?
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.