When I first heard about the study which found the umbilical cord blood of U.S. newborns contained 232 toxic chemicals, it brought to mind chemical exposure in our food, water, and air. Water was found to be a big risk factor, specifically for widespread contamination of lead, mercury, and PCBs. Investing in a good water filtration system is well advised. A good place to start is the tap water database, provided by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
However, I didn’t initially give much thought to how many of those chemicals we willingly purchase and apply to ourselves, as well as our infants and children, directly absorbing these products in a transdermal manner through our skin and into our bloodstream.
One of the highly acclaimed, forward thinking doctors I follow is Dr. Daniel Amen, founder of the Amen Clinics. He has a long and very impressive list of accomplishments, and he is a foremost authority on the brain. This includes a vast knowledge of how outside influences, including toxins and chemicals, impact brain health and endocrine function. He recently mentioned an app that I have found to be very eye-opening. The app is called Think Dirty, and it provides insight into the level of toxicity in toiletries and makeup that so many of us apply to our skin daily. Healthy Living is another similar app provided by the EWG which provides insight into the safety of toiletries and makeup, as well as many packaged foods.
Like Dr. Amen, I found myself shocked by the toxicity rating of a good portion of the products in my bathroom, many of which I immediately placed in the trash. These things ranged from lotion to lipstick. The body lotion contained two forms of parabens, which are endocrine disruptors linked to cancer and increase the risk of skin damage from exposure to the sun's UVB rays. The dangerous toxins hidden in many lipsticks and lip glosses include lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum, among other metals. In one study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Public Health, 24 different lipsticks and lip glosses were tested and 75% of them were found to contain lead, which is a neurotoxin. With the risks of lead paint being well-known, this finding truly shocked me. In general, seeing "fragrance" listed as an ingredient is an automatic red flag, because it is a completely unregulated term that can be used to mask any ingredient under the guise of being a proprietary aspect of the product.
I was also relieved to see that some of the more natural products I use ranked as being free of concerning chemicals, like my favorite Dr. Bronner’s bar soap and Andalou shampoo. It’s good to know there are much safer options available.
This got me thinking about the topic of epigenetics, in which outside influences have been found to negatively impact gene expression. In other words, outside factors which can turn genes on and off. Epigenetic factors include things like Lyme Disease and Epstein Barr, exposure to asbestos, led paint, or toxic mold, or the reactions some experience from the chemicals in various injected vaccines. However, what about the daily exposure we all have to things like soaps, shampoos, lotions, toothpaste, or makeup? Taking that a step further, how could these daily exposures impact young children, or even infants in the womb? I suspect a good portion of those 232 toxic chemicals found in the cord blood of newborns in the U.S. came through their mothers’ transdermal exposure to these every day beauty aids and bathing products.
I recall being so careful when I was pregnant; making sure I ate a healthy diet and exercised, avoided medications, and headed warnings about the dangers of exposure to things like paint fumes when pregnant. However, the multi-billion dollar toiletries and makeup industries have no warnings on their product labels about dangerous, potentially toxic chemicals in the products we buy and use every day. It’s up to us to increase awareness of this risk. Talk about this with you friends and loved ones, and tell them about the apps so they can scan the products they use and see for themselves. Another nice feature of the Think Dirty app is that it provides a list of safer alternative products, noting which options customers like most.
Improving our health isn’t just about diet, it’s about lifestyle. I would much rather spend a little more on safer products today so I can spend a lot less on medical bills in the future. The cleaner we live, the healthier we will be.