I have to be honest and admit that although I’ve always known it is a good idea to avoid chemicals, it’s only over the past few years that I’ve really begun to grasp where they’ve all been hiding and how many I’ve used unknowingly for years.
Drain cleaners, bleach, fly spray… they’re the easy ones – I think most of us approach these with at least some trepidation. But what about Petroleum, Sodium Lauryl sulphate, parabens, phthalates… and so the list continues. All of these are fairly run of the mill ingredients in most personal care products, a list of ingredients I never really paid much attention to because the notion that they could be harmful didn’t enter my head.
Have you ever heard of the term “Environmental Oestrogens”?
An environmental oestrogen refers to a substance which has a similar chemical structure to Oestrogen. This enables it to mimic oestrogen and in doing so gives it the ability to bind onto oestrogen receptor sites on the cell membrane – essentially replacing oestrogen. This can have a range of effects from clogging up the cell membrane with foreign bodies which essentially disable vital cellular processes; it may trigger abnormal cellular growth and also result in elevated oestrogen levels within the body. We immediately think of women when we think of oestrogen and related problems, but elevated oestrogen levels bring with them a plethora of health complaints for men, women and children!
Many of the ingredients contained within our personal care products fall into the category of environmental oestrogens, however they aren’t restricted to personal care products. They are also contained within pesticides & herbicides, plastic compounds, industrial compounds, our water supply! It’s hard to quantify the effect of our daily exposure to literally thousands of hormone disrupting chemicals, but this factor has been a very valid contributor to the explosion in the rates of breast and prostate cancer.
We cannot live independently of our environments, but we can choose to live in awareness of our environments. Awareness of what we are putting on our skin, putting in our bodies, and putting back into the environment.
Organic… Aluminium Free… Paraben Free – they are all terms worth looking out for 🙂