A French consumer research group, similar to Choice in Australia, has found elevated levels of chemicals in beauty products that could be linked to cancer, obesity, reduced brain function and birth defects.
Consumer group Que Choisir found elevated levels of endocrine disrupters in 66 common personal-care products.
Endorcrine disrupting chemicals, which are a relatively new scientific discovery, are found in plastics, household goods and a lot of cosmetic products and appear to disrupt the endocrine system which regulates and produces hormones.
In particular, it found the antibacterial agent triclosan and preservative propylparaben in popular moisturisers, body washes, deodorants and toothpastes.
Marc Cohen, professor of health science at RMIT University and leader of the Wellness Program, told ninemsn that researchers are still trying to determine exactly how dangerous these chemicals are.
“The United Nations and World Health Organisation recently put out a report acknowledging that we don’t know the full extent and need a lot more research,” he said.
“These chemicals disrupt the regulatory processes in our bodies. What is clear is that everyone is affected by them. They are in many consumer products, including cosmetic products, as well as plastics, toys, food and food packaging. They accumulate in the body and have a cocktail effect — even if you think one chemical is safe, when you combine it with others it can be dangerous, which makes studying them very complex.”
He said beauty products can be particularly hazardous because we absorb them through our skin and into our system.
“Your skin is an organ of ingestion and you absorb things directly from it,” he said.
“Organic products are certainly a better way to go because you are then avoiding pesticides. I would be buying products that are labelled certified organic, petra chemical free, and not anti-bacterial, because they contain triclosan, which has the disrupting chemicals.”
Many plastics contain endocrine disrupting chemicals, so Professor Cohen also recommended avoiding cosmetics in plastic packaging.
“It’s really important for pregnant women, because foetuses are particularly sensitive to these chemicals,” he said.
“For adults, it might affect our blood sugar or how we think, but for a growing foetus, it might disrupt how their organs form or how their brain forms, or for a child how they develop. It’s much more critical for a child if they have a disruption to the regulation of their development could have much more severe effects.”
Endocrine disrupting chemicals also affect wildlife, because we excrete them and also wash them off and the water then travels to the ocean.
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