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MIND : Nature & Travel
BE AN INFORMED CONSUMER: Teen girls’ exposure to chemicals in cosmetics may alter hormones
by nycScribbler, 31 Jan 2011

Laboratory tests show an alarming statistic – teen girls across the U.S. are contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals typically found in cosmetics and body care products such as moisturizer, lotion, deodorant, nail polish, makeup, and
more. A new study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered 16 chemicals from four chemical families – phthalates, triclosan, parabens and musks in blood and urine samples from 20 teen girls aged 14-19.

Repeated exposure to these chemicals is linked to cancer and hormone disruption.

Adolescence is a period of rapid development where maturation of the reproductive, immune, blood, and adrenal hormone systems occur, as well as rapid bone growth, shifts in metabolism, alterations of sex hormones, and essential changes to brain structure.

New research shows that teens may be especially sensitive to the trace levels of hormone-disrupting chemicals, given all the hormonal changes going on in the body.

During adolescence teen girls tend to experiment with a vast array of cosmetics. Teen study participants used an average of 17 personal care products each day, while the average adult woman uses 12 daily.

One of the major dangers associated with exposure to certain chemicals is premature puberty.
Rates of premature puberty are on the rise all over America. The age at which girls develop breasts has declined by one to two years in the past four decades. Accelerated development has become so common that the clinical definition of early-onset puberty was reduced from eight to seven for white girls and from age seven to six for black girls. Premature puberty affects as many as one in 5,000 children, and is 10 times more common in females than males.

Girls that experience early onset puberty are at greater risk for many adult illnesses such as breast cancer and polycystic ovary syndrome, a leading cause of infertility and pelvic pain, which as is also linked to a number of other diseases. These girls are also more likely to fail to reach normal adult height, as well as being prone to psychiatric or behavioral problems, drug and alcohol use, early sexual encounters, and teen pregnancy among others.

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The most obvious question is why are these chemicals being used in personal products if they are known to be harmful?

Unfortunately the U.S. government is to blame for not setting up a standard of safety.
Federal health statutes don’t require companies to test products or their ingredients for safety. In contrast, the European Union has restricted the use of some phthalates and other chemicals.

Until the Federal Drug Administration decides to enforce the banning of these dangerous chemicals, it’s up to teen girls to make better product choices.

The most foolproof way to avoid these chemicals is to always read the list of ingredients in products. Use this list as a guide to prevent future exposure.

* Phthalates are commonly found in nail polish, moisturizers, and as a common ingredient in “fragrance” mixtures added to body care products, as well as in certain plastics. Buy products that do not list “fragrance” as an ingredient, nail polish that does not contain dibutyl phthalate, and fragrance-free detergents and cleaning products. Try to avoid eating food packaged in plastic as well as microwaving food wrapped in plastic.

* Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria on the skin and other surfaces. It is typically found in “antibacterial” products and soaps. Buy cosmetics that say triclosan-free.

* Musks are artificial chemicals in “fragrance” mixtures found in perfumes and soaps, as well as air fresheners, detergents, fabric softeners, cleaning products and as food additives. Switch to fragrance-free cosmetics and body products and make sure to avoid buying anything that lists “fragrance” as an ingredient.

* Parabens are a group of artificial preservatives found in many products such as moisturizers, skin and face cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants and antiperspirants, sunscreens, toothpaste, shaving gels, and many others. Cosmetics usually contain mixtures of parabens. The five most commonly found include: methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, and butylparaben (measured in combination with isobutylparaben) and benzylparaben. Buy products that say paraben-free.

It may prove almost impossible to completely eliminate all of these chemicals since they are found in so many products, it is possible to reduce the amount that is absorbed into the body by buying chemical-free alternatives and paying closer attention to product ingredients.

Hormone-Altering Cosmetics Chemicals Found in Teenage Girls

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