Natural healing, natural wellness

Beauty Tips

Xenoestrogens – Linked To Cancer

A large number of cancers are categorised as being hormonally responsive, and the hormone responsible in many of these cases is estrogen. Commonly known as the female sex hormone, estrogen is a major driver of many cancers for both men and women. Breast cancer, endometrial, cervical, ovarian, colon, brain tumours and testicular and prostate cancer are just some examples. Estrogen has been found to be the culprit behind even some lung cancers.

Estrogen is actually not a single hormone, but a family of hormones with varying chemical strengths. Some are dangerous, others are less so. Estradiol, an aggressive form of estrogen, is one troublemaker. Research shows that some prostate cancers are driven by a chemical called DHT – produced when estradiol attacks the male hormone, testosterone.

Two in three breast cancers are driven by estrogen, specifically estradiol. This troublesome hormone can cause healthy cells to mutate and stem cells to stay in their rapidly dividing state. It can lower oxygen levels in the cell by 40 per cent, cause malfunctioning of the transport systems across the cell membrane, poison the cell and even help the spread of the cancer message. Trouble starts when dangerous forms of estrogen bind to cell receptor sites, feeding the cancer.

When you have an estrogen-receptor positive (ER+) cancer, you need to avoid adding to the estrogen pool in your body. However, we are constantly exposed to chemicals in our environment, personal care products, household products and our foods which act like estrogen in the body. Examples of some external estrogen-like chemicals are pesticides, BPA, phthalates, toluene, perfumes, and parabens. These exogenous estrogens are called xenoestrogens. Some can be just as harmful as the more aggressive natural estrogens like estradiol.

Xenoestrogens are not the same as phytoestrogens, which are natural estrogens or estrogen-mimics derived from plants. Typically, xenoestrogens are far more potent and dangerous. They can wreak havoc on our endocrine system, creating a host of health problems.

What are some sources of xenoestrogens? Here are some bad guys to watch out for:

Nail varnishes and cleaners – these may contain xylene, formaldehyde and toluene, ingredients associated with health risks like damage to DNA and the liver, skin and respiratory irritation, and neurotoxins. Toulene, an estrogen-mimic, also affects the endocrine system.

Perfume and products with synthetic fragrances – these can be a mixture of over 100 different ingredients, and they are not all required to be named on the label. You need to be vigilant, as several are potent endocrine system disrupters and estrogen mimics. Toluene, for instance, is used in the manufacture of many perfumes.

Swedish research shows that 75 per cent of ordinary, everyday perfumed products used on the body produced DEHP – a very powerful estrogen mimic – once in the blood stream. The researchers discovered that that three-quarters of toiletry products tested contained DEHP and phthalates. Synthetic fragrances, perfumed body sprays, hairsprays and hair products were the main culprits. US research with pregnant women found that DEHP was so powerful that 11 per cent of male offspring born to mothers with high DEHP levels had genital defects. Another study concluded that some testicular cancers can start in the womb because of the use of synthetic fragrances or other xenoestrogens on the skin during pregnancy.

Men should not be complacent as DEHP is also found in soaps, shaving foam and aftershave. Practically all these products contain synthetic perfumes.

Cleaning agents, textiles, plastics, cosmetics and some kinds of paper – these are typical sources of a chemical called 4-nonylphenol (4-NP), an endocrine disrupter as well as an estrogen-mimic. 4-nonylphenol has proven to be a breast cancer threat , as reported by the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2005. It has also been reported to affect semen quality.

Plastics and plastic additives – bisphenol A (BPA) is an ingredient previously used as a fungicide which is now used to manufacture many plastics and plastic additives. It is an endocrine disrupter, mimicking hormones like estrogen. Epoxy resins containing bisphenol A are used as coatings on the inside of almost all food and beverage cans, including bottle caps. Even water supply lines are coated with this chemical.

Bisphenol A is a key component in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic, a clear and nearly shatter-proof plastic used to make a variety of common products including baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, CDs and DVDs, and household electronics. Bisphenol A is a popular color developer in thermal paper and in carbonless copy paper.

Flexible plastics, toys, toiletries and other personal care or beauty products – these widely contain phthalates, another endocrine disrupter and estrogen-mimic. Like other endocrine disrupters, phthalates can elevate estradiol production and cause chromosomal damage. Phthalates leach from certain plasticisers used in plastic bottles, used to contain anything from drinking water to hair shampoo and other personal care products.

Cosmetics like face creams, lipsticks etc – many contain estrogen mimics. Dr Ana Soto of Tuft’s experimented with 10 such estrogen mimics, all normal product ingredients designated as safe levels by the US Government. In studies with rats she got a full estrogen response, the sort of effect you might see from the most potent form of estrogen, estradiol. That was just 10 ingredients! How many more estrogen mimics are you exposed to each week in your own home? Probably hundreds.

Finally (for this post any way) sodium lauryl sulphate in soaps, bubble bath, shampoos, dishwashing detergent and so on can increase the permeability of the skin by up to 40 per cent. This just allows more hormone mimics to pass into the blood stream. If you’re still using personal care and household products with sodium lauryl sulphate, for goodness sake WAKE UP! There are alternative, safe toiletry, skin care and household products available today. At least one brand, Neways International, avoids using 3,000 questionable ingredients, including the estrogen-mimics mentioned here.

If you haven’t already done so, switch to using personal care and household care products which are free from questionable ingredients, like xenoestrogens. It could save your life.

Safe Sun Protection Which Nourishes Your Skin

What was I thinking? I was out of my Neways moisturiser with SPF15 protection (True Touch Protect AM) the other day so, being in a hurry, I decided to slap on a well-known, expensive brand’s “Cyber White” SPF 50 / PA++ formula. It was a sample handed out at a beauty workshop organised by the local cancer centre. As it was a sample, no ingredients were printed on the tube.

I thought it should have been relatively safe, as it was distributed through that particular workshop. Will I never learn? The cream was thick, white and pasty. It left me looking like a ghost and suffocated my skin. It was difficult to clean off thoroughly too. Uggh! What did they put in that stuff? My poor skin!

My True Touch Protect AM (or PM) SPF15 moisturiser is velvety and absorbs super-fast, leaving skin feeling soft and smooth. It has no questionable ingredients and is safety-tested and dermatologist-approved. The fragrance is fresh, natural and EU allergen-friendly. Zinc oxide acts as a sunscreen while liposomes assist with photo protection. Vitamins and antioxidants nourish and protect the skin. Key ingredients include:

Zinc Oxide, a natural mineral which provides SPF15 with complete UVA and UVB protection. This is an ideal sunscreen for sensitive skin.

Photosomes, light-activated enzymes from plankton which support sun-damaged skin’s natural repair and renewal processes.

Jojoba Oil, a natural, non-irritating oil which moisturises and conditions.

Meadoowfoam Seed Oil, an oil from a grassland wildflower which also helps to hydrate and nurture the skin.

Vitamins C & E, powerful antioxidants which defend and protect the skin against the harsh effects of the environment. Vitamin E also helps moisturise the skin.

Pea Extract, a skin conditioner with antioxidant properties that also supports the skin’s firmness and elasticity.

Walnut Seed Extract, an ingredient with antioxidant properties which helps support the skin against environmental stress.

True Touch” by Neways International is a range of skin care products which avoids using at least 3,000 questionable ingredients, including known carcinogens. What was I thinking of using some other inferior and potentially harmful brand of skin care?

Phthalate Exposure – Worth Dying For?

Seventeen students in a school in Singapore recently came down with pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Everyone initially thought that the source of their illness was snacks at a class party. To everyone’s surprise, the culprit turned out to be phthalates in a toy that they played with just before eating. As the children did not wash their hands, the chemicals transferred from their hands into their mouths.

Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastics flexible. The specific phthalates found in the toy were dibutyl phthalates (DBP) and diethylhexyl phthalates (DEHP). The US has classified DEHP as a “probable human carcinogen” while the European Chemical Agency calls it a “Substance of Very High Concern”.

Phthalates are widely used. They are in soft PVC products like packaging, flooring, mats, milk bottles, toys, food containers and so on. Soft PVC products contain over 40% of phthalates by weight. The “new car” smell that motorists love comes from phthalates emitting from the dashboards of vehicles that have been in the sun. As the motor vehicle cools downs, the phthalates re-condense as an oily film on the inside of the windscreen. Yet another reason not to buy new cars.

I always avoid heating food up in plastic containers. Plastics with recycling codes 3 and 7, in particular, tend to contain phthalates. I also stay away from personal care products which contain phthalates. Yes, many cosmetics, fragrances, soaps, shampoos, lotions, deodorants and even baby powder contain phthalates. Phthalates are popularly used to enhance fragrances in skin care, hair care and beauty products like perfumes, hair spray, and nail polish. These chemicals are also found in environmental products like wood finishers and lubricants.

Manufacturers are sneaky. Phthalates are rarely listed on the ingredients label. Be smart; look out for proxy ingredients like “fragrance”.

A 2009 survey on phthalate levels in the environment by the US Centre For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that exposure to these chemicals was extremely widespread. Concerned, US authorities warned that DEHP was particularly likely to cause serious development problems in the sexual reproductive systems of young male children. Phthalates act as hormone disrupters. DBP and DEHP, especially, disrupt aromotase, an enzyme crucial to the metabolism of sex hormones. These chemicals cats as anti-androgens, or anti-male hormones.

In 2003, a Boston study discovered that men exposed to phthalates had fewer sperm, which also tended to be weaker and deformed. Statistics shows that male infertility is increasing at an alarming rate in industrialized nations, where exposure to phthalates is high. Two common male birth defects are undescended testes and hypospadias (a penile deformity).

Even more alarmingly, it is women of child-bearing age who have the most exposure to phthalates, very likely because of their heavy usage of personal care products containing harmful ingredients like phthalates. Not only are they in danger of producing male babies with sexual development problems, but they are also at risk of developing cancer. Are you using phthalate-free skin care products?

Safety-conscious company Neways International avoids using at least 3,000 questionable ingredients – including phthalates – in its personal care products, such as skin care, hair care, oral hygiene and beauty products. Instead, it uses safe and gentle ingredients as well as technological processes. What’s in the personal care products you use?

Beauty at any price – is it worth dying for?