W.E. Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals and Teenage Girls

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals and Teenage Girls

Excerpts from an Environmental Working Group Study

An Environmental Working Group (EWG) study revealed the presence of 16 chemicals from 4 chemical families in the bodies of 20 American girls aged 14 to 19. Chemicals from these families; phthalates, triclosan, musks, and parabens, are all commonly used in cosmetics and body care products. Studies link these chemicals to potential health effects including hormone disruption and cancer. The young women participating in the study used an average of 17 personal care products each day, and were exposed to an estimated 174 unique cosmetic ingredients.

Teens Are Vulnerable

Subtle hormonal signals coordinate many other critical developmental processes occurring during human adolescence, including the adolescent "growth spurt" and associated rapid bone growth, maturation of the immune, blood, and adrenal hormone systems, shifts in metabolism, and key changes to brain structure and function. The dramatic changes of adolescence, all orchestrated via shifts in the minute levels of hormones present in healthy bodies, suggest a unique vulnerability of adolescents and pre-adolescents to the effects of exposures to low levels of hormone-active chemicals found in body care products and other everyday items.

Emerging research suggests that teens may be particularly sensitive to exposures to hormone-disrupting chemicals, given the complex hormonal signals that guide the rapid growth and development of the reproductive system, the brain, and the bone, blood, and immune systems during adolescence. Animal studies on breast cancer also indicate that the period around puberty, in which mammary glands undergo critical types of development, may be a period of special vulnerability to toxic chemicals that can provoke alterations in development that predispose the breast to cancer.

Harmful Chemicals Commonly Found in Personal Care Products

Chemicals within each of the 4 chemical families tested have been linked to cancer in laboratory studies and a variety of other toxicities as well. Chronic, low-level exposures to a mixture of these and hundreds of other untested, potentially harmful industrial chemicals may contribute to falling levels of fertility, noted especially for American women under 25, as well as increasing rates of breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and obesity and many other chronic diseases.

Phthalates - Ingredients in nail polish and other cosmetics, especially those containing "fragrance", as well as plastic containers. Some linked to birth defects in the male reproductive system of lab animals.

Triclosan - Preservative in products like liquid hand soap and toothpaste. Forms cancer-causing chemicals in surface waters and water treatment plants; raises concerns about potential impacts to thyroid gland and possible development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Nitro - and polycyclic musks - Artificial fragrances in soap, shampoo, deodorant, and cosmetics. Linked to hormone disruption and cancer in lab animals; some build up in the food chain and in people.

Parabens - Preservatives in cosmetics. Linked to hormone disruption, early puberty and cancer in laboratory studies. Detected in 20 of 20 teenage girls tested.

What are Parabens?

In use since the 1920s, parabens are a group of artificial preservatives commonly found in many different cosmetics and body care products. Parabens are used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold in a cosmetic product, increasing its shelf life. Laboratory studies suggest parabens can disrupt reproductive hormones. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) tested urine samples from a group of 100 adults and found parabens in nearly all samples.

Parabens are present in a wide variety of cosmetics and body care products, including moisturizers, face and skin cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens, deodorants and antiperspirants, shaving gels, toothpastes, makeup, and many others. They are also used as preservatives in food and beverages, and in some medications.

Prevention Starts Early in Life

While it's impossible to avoid the harmful chemicals in our environment, reducing exposure early in life will go far to help protect the teenagers in your life from health problems in the future. Choosing personal care products that are free of chemicals is a great place to start. You won't find phthalates, triclosan, musks or parabens, or any other chemicals for that matter, in the Organic Excellence products. Instead, we use the highest quality ingredients available, complimented with the added benefits of certified organic herbs.

Visit the Organic Excellence Ingredient Glossary for a full disclosure of the ingredients we do and don't use in our personal care products. Compare them with what you are currently using, and make a chemical free healthy choice.


Medical Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of a licensed medical doctor. Organic Excellence does not diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect a mental or physical health condition, please see your healthcare provider.