Integrative Health Blog

Holistic health: Are we being harmed by everyday products?

Posted by admin on Wed, Jul 07, 2010

by Dr. Beals

plastic_Chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, shampoos and lotions, have been found to adversely affect the delicate hormonal balance of adolescent girls. Three classes of chemicals, phenols, phthalates and phytoestrogens can cause early puberty in young girls, potentially setting them up for more serious hormonally related diseases in the future. These chemicals, especially those detected at highest concentrations were shown to have a relationship between hormones, development, neurotransmitters mood and sleep disorders.

In a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives researchers investigated the association of concurrent exposures from three chemical classes (phenols, phthalates, and phytoestrogens) which are commonly found in lotions, cosmetics and shampoo.
Add that to the plastics we have surrounded ourselves with from water bottles to food storage and it is no wonder we see such changes.

Several research studies have found that when plastic comes in contact with certain foods, molecules of the chemicals in the plastic can leach into the food or beverage including water. Certain characteristics of the food item can make it more likely to pick up plastic molecules:

* The more liquid a food is, the more it touches the plastic, so the more opportunity it has to pick up plastic molecules.
* Acid foods, such as tomato sauce, appear to be particularly interactive with plastic.
* If you heat a food item in a plastic container even if the container is microwave-safe the transference of plastic from the container to the food is even more likely.

When molecules of plastic or actually molecules of the chemicals that get added to plastics during manufacturing get into our bodies, it's not a good thing. They can cause unwanted effects in the human body; for instance, some of the chemicals mimic estrogen. Estrogen, of course, is a normal, essential human hormone; but having too much of it (or the molecules that mimic estrogen) has been associated with breast cancer and other health problems. In general, chemicals that fool the body into thinking they are estrogen or other hormones are called endocrine disruptors and are best avoided.

Better food storage solutions... glass is the best choice, followed closely by porcelain, ceramic, and stainless steel.

Better personal care solutions... use fewer products that are fragrance free and dye free.

Learn how to read labels on products. The Environmental Working Group, is an informational website with a cosmetics database.


Paul Beals MD, CCN is an integrative physician at National Integrated Health Associates, NIHA, an integrative medicine and dental center serving the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia region. His specialties include Lyme Disease, cancer support, cardiovascular risk reduction,  chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromylagia and hormone balance.

Topics: plastics, hormones, holistic health, integrative health, integrative medicine