Friday, February 3, 2012

Clean Living: Avoiding Parabens

Check labels of beauty products!

  I'm sure we've all heard about the emergence of clean living, and more so 'clean eating' in recent years. I am striving to live cleaner and cleaner everyday myself.

  The more I read however, the more areas I am finding need to be 'cleaned up', so to speak (I'm actually finding it a little overwhelming).

  Clean living basically means avoiding the intake of chemicals. Your diet is the most obvious aspect of clean living. But one part of clean living I never really thought of until recently, is what I put ON my body, as well as IN it.

  Our skin is trans-dermal. Meaning anything we put onto our skin, is actually absorbed into our body as if we were eating it. So given that, what we put onto our bodies is just as important as the food and drink we are putting into it.
  I came across an article several weeks ago that sparked my interest, and opened my eyes in regard to a link between breast cancer and parabens. To me it's a new health issue to be conscious of, but probably isn't all that new to the rest of the 'clean living' world.

  Parabens are chemicals (that are also estrogenic -- mimic estrogen our bodies, and endocrine disruptors -- interfere with our hormone system) that are added to almost everything. Ranging from shampoos and deodorants, to processed foods (sausages, pastries, etc) and pharmaceutical drugs.

  Why are they so common, you ask? You can probably guess; they're added to these products to inexpensively expand the shelf-life and improve product stability.

  Parabens are also found in moisturizers, shaving gels, tanning solutions, makeup, and toothpaste. So roughly everything we might use on a daily basis as part of our hygiene routine have parabens in them.

  So what's to be worried about?

  A research team, led by Dr. Philippa Darbre, studied tissue samples from 40 women who were undergoing mastectomies for breast cancer between 2005 and 2008. Four samples were collected from each woman (160 samples in total). Dr. Darbre's team found that 99% of the tissue samples contained at least one paraben, and 60% of the samples contained five.

   While this certainly doesn't prove parabens are the sole cause of breast cancer, it does show a link, and is something that needs to be examined and researched further. It would be nice to know the percentage of 'normal' women who have parabens in their breast tissue, but that might be a little too invasive to test for.

  Obviously there are other risk factors to take into account (age, gender, and a significant family history), but it's important people are provided with the information. Knowledge is power, isn't it? Once people are provided with all relative information, they then can make their own lifestyle choices based on that information. 

  Sounds like a good deal to me. Some might say ignorance is bliss. But not where our health is concerned. I would like to know, so I can adjust my lifestyle accordingly.

  Just as in our food system, it's also important to read the labels of our hygiene products. Parabens will be listed in the ingredients (they could be in the form of: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, or butylparaben). Some products might have labels saying that they are paraben-free, so be on the look out for those ('natural' does not mean organic or paraben-free, just like in food).

Some other causes for concern.
  Like my previous blogs about GMOs, all I want to do is pass along information I come across that I feel might be useful, and that I feel might not be a part of mainstream knowledge. There are some other aspects of 'beauty products' that I want to address in the coming weeks, as well. But I didn't want to overwhelm with too much information!

  Chemicals aren't meant to be ingested. Be diligent, and pay attention to what we are putting in AND on our bodies!

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