Carcinogens in Skincare Expert Advice
- Skin is our largest organ - adults carry some 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) and 22 square feet (2 square meters) of it.
- Skin contains on average 11 miles of blood vessels.
- Each square centimetre of skin has 5, 000 sensory points, 100 sweat glands and 15 sebaceous glands
Body organs aren't all internal like the brain or the heart. There's one we wear on the outside. Skin is our largest organ—adults carry some 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) and 22 square feet (2 square meters) of it. This fleshy covering does a lot more than make us look presentable. In fact, without it, we'd literally evaporate.
Skin acts as a waterproof, insulating shield, guarding the body against extremes of temperature, damaging sunlight, and harmful chemicals. It also exudes antibacterial substances that prevent infection and manufactures vitamin D for converting calcium into healthy bones. Skin additionally is a huge sensor packed with nerves for keeping the brain in touch with the outside world. At the same time, skin allows us free movement, proving itself an amazingly versatile organ.
Skin is made up of three layers. The outermost is the epidermis. This consists mainly of cells called keratinocytes, made from the tough protein keratin (also the material in hair and nails). Keratinocytes form several layers that constantly grow outwards as the exterior cells die and flake off. It takes roughly five weeks for newly created cells to work their way to the surface. This covering of dead skin is known as the stratum corneum, or horny layer, and its thickness varies considerably, being more than ten times thicker on the soles of the feet than around the eyes. The epidermis harbours defensive Langerhans cells, which alert the body's immune system to viruses and other infectious agents.
The epidermis is bonded to a deeper skin layer below known as the dermis, which gives the organ its strength and elasticity thanks to fibers of collagen and elastin. Blood vessels here help regulate body temperature by increasing blood flow to the skin to allow heat to escape, or by restricting the flow when it's cold. A network of nerve fibers and receptors pick up feelings such as touch, temperature, and pain, relaying them to the brain.
The dermis houses hair follicles and glands with ducts that pass up through the skin. Sweat glands bring down internal temperature through perspiration while ridding the body of the waste fluids urea and lactate. Apocrine glands, which develop during puberty, produce a scented sweat linked to sexual attraction that can also cause body odor, especially around the armpits. Sebaceous glands secrete oil-like sebum for lubricating the hair and skin.
The skin's base layer is the subcutis, which includes a seam of fat laid down as a fuel reserve in case of food shortage. It also works as insulation and cushions us from knocks and falls.
Parabens: Also known as parahydroxy benzoic acid. A very common group of preservatives.
- First used in 1924
- Most common used preservative
- Absorbed through the skin
- Mimic Oestrogen
- Found in breast tumours
Aritificial Fragrances: Over 5000 fragrances used. Linked to:
- Birth Defects
- Asthma and breathing disorders
- Central Nervous System toxicity
- Mood Swings
- Depression/ Irritability
Cancer on the increase: Over the recent years particularly since 1950’s cancer has increased in the industrial nations.
- Prostate cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, multiple myeloma increased by 200%
- 2 Testicular cancer increased by 110%
- 3 Brain and nervous system cancer increased by 80%
- 4 Childhood cancer increased by 40%
Our air, water, work place and consumer products (cosmetics, food, toiletries, and household products) have become contaminated with industrial carcinogens.
Did you know that 98% of skin care products on the market today contain harmful chemicals?
Scientific research has recently brought into light an awareness of synthetic preservatives that are commonly used in practically every skin and hair care products on the market today. One of the chemicals in question is ‘PARABENS’ and include widely used forms such as propylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben and butylparaben. The other is ‘SODIUM LAURYL SULPHATE/AMMONIUM SULPHATE’ and are commonly used in products such as shampoos, skin creams, bath products and deodorants.
They are suspected to be endocrine disrupters and in recent laboratory experiments they have been found to mimic oestrogen, linking directly with breast cancer. Extensive tests have been carried out on women with breast cancer and 9 out of 10 of the women tested were found to contain parabens in their skin tissue.
The Us Environmental Protection Agency reported, “This means that these chemicals (parabens) mimic your body’s own hormones and can have endocrine-disrupting action when they are rubbed into your body or washed down the drain into your drinking water. These disruptors interfere with your body’s endocrine system: your hypothalamus, your ovaries, your thyroid—virtually every system in your body….”
As well as causing serious concerns, many people find that they have allergic reactions to these preservatives which cause common skin rashes and irritation. Needless to say, there is a great on-going debate as to the safety of these products containing parabens and SLS. Although larger companies will state that the level of parabens and SLS in their products is low, daily usage of paraben and SLS based skincare does indeed cause a build-up in the skin.
There is now a demand for paraben free products and when conducting our research, we had a tough time locating many on the market. The ones that are currently available are extremely expensive. We therefore decided to produce our own range of paraben and sulphate free products and give you a full range of beautiful skin care products that you can feel confident in using, every single day.
"Research Worldwide is now recognising that Parabens are causing problems. Our products contain only gentle ingredients, no parabens and no sulphates". – My Body Temple
Articles of Interest
Parabens Linked to Excessive Ageing Of The Skin
Parabens are something that most people aren't aware of - although many of us use them on a regular basis. Parabens are a chemical compound of para-hydroxybenzoic acid, and common types of parabens include butyl, propyl and ethyl parabens. Less common types include benzylparaben and isobutylparaben.
Parabens are found in a variety of everyday products - cosmetics, deodorant, face cream, shampoo and toothpaste. Check the list of ingredients on one of these products in your home and you will almost certainly see that parabens are included - an estimated 95% of cosmetic products include parabens.
For many years, parabens have been considered safe, both in the UK and overseas, as they were thought to be non-toxic. An allergic reaction or sensitivity to parabens is extremely rare - especially considering how widely used they are. However, several studies in recent years have suggested that parabens might be more harmful than we think.
Studies have found that the biggest risk from parabens seems to be from the use of products that require a prolonged exposure to skin, such as skin creams and facial lotions. The longer that the parabens are on the skin, the more opportunity there is for parabens to be absorbed. When used in skin care products, parabens are absorbed directly into the blood stream rather than through the gastrointestinal tract.
One type of paraben - methylparaben - has also been linked to the premature aging of skin. A study undertaken in Japan indicated that certain cosmetic products may cause skin to age excessively when exposed to ultra-violet rays. Ironically, this compound can be commonly found in products designed to fight the effects of aging.
Some tests have indicated that parabens have caused an increase in oestrogen which can possibly affect the male and female reproductive organs. Some studies in men have shown that a low sperm count and a decrease in testosterone are directly related to the intake of parabens.
One of the biggest areas of concern is the effect of parabens on breast cancer. Several studies have found traces of parabens in women with breast cancer.
It's difficult not to come into contact with parabens - they are used in so many products that we use daily. Use of parabens is still legal in the UK and it's an area that will continue to be watched carefully.
By Simon Pitman - Environmental & Chemical journalist
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Report "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in the Environment: Agents of Subtle Change?"
Reported that the chemical preservatives called parabens—methyl, propyl, butyl and ethyl (alkyl-phydroxybenzoates)—displayed estrogenic activity in several tests. This means that these chemicals mimic your body’s own hormones and can have endocrine-disrupting action when they are rubbed into your body or washed down the drain into your drinking water. These disruptors interfere with your body’s endocrine system: your hypothalamus, your ovaries, your thyroid—virtually every system in your body. The EPA also stated that "continual introduction of these benzoates (parabens) into sewage treatment systems and directly to recreational waters from the skin leads to the question of risk to aquatic organisms." Scientists in Europe found other endocrine-disrupting body care chemicals in the bodies of fish that humans are eating, and in human breast milk.
Parabens: The Toxins in Your Anti-Aging Cream
There is a potentially dangerous chemical that may be lurking in your anti-aging cream. In fact, it’s hard to find lotions, cosmetics, sun block, and many other beauty products that don’t contain this chemical. What is this harmful chemical? It is actually a group of chemicals called parabens. Included in the manufacturing of anti-aging cream because of their benefits as a preservative, there are a couple of concerns connected with parabens. Not only are parabens toxic, but they can also actually speed up the aging process in the skin.
Parabens are a group of chemicals included in the manufacturing of anti-aging cream and other beauty products because they help to inhibit bacteria growth in the product, thus lengthening their shelf life. If the list of ingredients on your anti-aging cream includes the terms propylparaben, methylparaben, ethylparaben, or butylparaben, your cream has parabens. Although these chemicals do have a preservative effect on the antiaging cream, they have the opposite effect on your skin and body causing premature aging and sagging of your skin.
The first concern with parabens is that they are absorbed by the skin into the body. For instance, when you apply an anti-aging product containing parabens, the parabens are absorbed into your skin and accumulate in your body tissues. The breast tissue is of most concern since the majority of the people using cosmetics and anti-aging products are women. Although no firm connections have been made, an article in the May 2004 issue of the Journal of Applied Toxicology indicates parabens were found in each of 20 samples taken from human breast tumors. This is especially alarming since the parabens can mimic estrogen, a hormone that drives the growth of breast tumors in humans as stated in the article.
Another reason you should be concerned if parabens are included in your anti-aging product is that parabens can react with the sun’s UV rays in a way that may actually accelerate the aging process of skin. According to research conducted at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine skin treated with parabens, methylparaben specifically, showed a 16 percent increase in skin cell fatality when the skin was exposed to a regulated amount of ultraviolet rays as opposed to untreated skin. Researchers believe this increase in the rate of cell death may contribute to wrinkles, dark spots and diminished skin tone, thus making the skin look older. Think about that next time you use your anti-aging cream.
You buy and use an anti-aging product in hopes it will make you look younger. This may not always be the case for products including parabens as preservatives. Always check the list of ingredients on your anti-aging product to make sure there are no dangerous chemicals lurking there. Judging by the number of anti aging skin products that contain parabens, you’d have to think they contribute in a big way in protecting the skin from aging.
What are parabens?
Parabens are a large collection of synthetic chemical products found in most skin care and cosmetic products including moisturizers, shampoos, foundation, face powder, exfoliants, baby products… There are thousands of skin care products that contain parabens, the list is endless. The reason parabens are put into skin care products is they have an antibacterial effect and act as a preservative.
So what? There are two problems.
The first and most serious one is the potential for parabens to be absorbed by the skin into the bloodstream from where they can lodge in our fatty tissues. As women are the main users of these products, the breast tissue is of particular concern.
Parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and can be absorbed by the breast tissue. In fact parabens, in their unconverted form, have been found in breast tumours.
What’s the other problem with parabens?
Anti aging products are bought by both men and women in the hope of preserving the appearance of their skin. The problem is that some parabens can react to the UV rays in sunlight to produce a substance that actually accelerates aging.
No problems, you may think, I’ll just wear a sun block.
Good idea, you should be wearing one anyway. Just check the label though because… guess what? That’s right, parabens are even found in certain sun protection products.
How can I tell if there are parabens in the products I use? It’s very difficult because they go under so many different names! Some of the more recognizable ones are: Ethylparaben, Methylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Aseptoform Butyl and Benzoic acid. Parabens have many synonyms so without knowing all the names, which is virtually impossible, reading the label will only add to further confusion. Over 90% of skin care products, contain these chemicals. They are there because they are cheap and until recently, considered relatively safe. The FDA has requested cosmetic companies to test the various ingredients they use to manufacture their products (May 2005). While they are to be commended for this, the process is laboriously slow and ongoing.
By Dr. Lynne Kavulich
Risk Posed by Toxics in Cosmetics Could Leave Unwary Investors with Black Eye, Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), Washington, D.C
Things could get ugly for investors who ignore glaring health risks in the cosmetics industry, warns a new report from the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN), which represents 20 investment organizations with $22 billion in assets under management. A powerful convergence of forces -- shareholder resolutions, health risk information, European and U.S. regulatory changes and growing consumer pressure -- could drive sweeping changes in the U.S. personal care and cosmetics industry, with significant implications for investors, according to IEHN.
The release of the IEHN report caps a flurry of developments in recent weeks exposing the risks associated with toxicbearing cosmetics and the retailers who provide them to the public. Investors are now weighing two related shareholder resolutions at CVS and Bed, Bath & Beyond. On February 8, 2007, Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, a financial research firm, released a report that the risk of "toxic lockouts" could result in a loss of market share and loss of market access for four major industries, including cosmetics. On January 25, 2007, it was announced that 500 cosmetics companies -- including The Body Shop and Burt's Bees -- had signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to eliminate toxic ingredients from their products nationwide.
Entitled "Beneath the Skin: Hidden Liabilities, Market Risk and Drivers of Change in the Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Industry," the new IEHN report describes a ticking time bomb scenario of a largely self-policed industry in which regulatory action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) typically is triggered only by reporting from the companies themselves. "The result is a system that permits significant consumer exposure to occur before sufficiently rigorous safety testing is conducted -- ultimately, a game of roulette which places consumers, manufacturers and investors at risk," said Sanford Lewis, an attorney specializing in corporate accountability and one of the report's authors. The U.S. cosmetics industry, dominated by 10 large companies, accounts for the use of nearly one in seven of the 75,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States. However, the FDA bans or restricts only 9 of those substances. Common ingredients found in U.S. personal-care products include phthalates, which have been linked to malformed or underdeveloped reproductive organs in males; formaldehyde, classified as a carcinogen; and parabens, endocrine-active preservatives that have been found in breast tumors. Many ingredients are exempt from labeling requirements because the product formulas are protected as proprietary, the report notes.
Scientists and consumers also have expressed concern that the industry's use of nanoparticles, which involve the manipulation of microscopic particles, may allow them to penetrate into the bloodstream & lymph system & damage tissue.
The weak U.S. regulatory structure also limits product marketability in the 457-million person European market. In 2005, the European Union banned more than 1,000 chemicals for use in cosmetics, the report notes. Closer to home, both California, the world's sixth-largest economy, and Canada have tightened their regulations of personal-care products. A total of 500 manufacturers, distributors and retailers have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, a pledge to phase out hazardous materials in cosmetics and personal-care products within three years, and to meet the tough new European standards worldwide, the report notes. Unfortunately, many of the industry's largest companies, including Avon, Estee Lauder, and Procter & Gamble, have refused to take the same common-sense step. Instead, the cosmetics industry has begun touting its Consumer Commitment Code, which appears to do little more than defend the status quo: the industry's self- policed ingredient review process and the inadequate "remedy" of voluntary reporting to the FDA. The code "appears to do little if anything to encourage cosmetics companies to eliminate the array of substances of concern for long-term health issues such as reproductive, cancer and endocrine impacts that are being flagged in the scientific literature," the IEHN report notes.
"Companies that proactively reformulate their products based upon emerging concerns about chemical safety will enhance their competitive positioning and position themselves to avoid future regulatory costs," said Karen Shapiro, shareholder advocacy associate at Domini Social Investments LLC, which has introduced resolutions in the past at Avon Products. "They may also maintain a competitive edge in global markets."
The authors of "Beneath the Skin" recommend that investors in cosmetics industry companies: compare and benchmark cosmetics and personal care companies on their performance on these issues; demand greater disclosure; monitor emerging scientific data; and anticipate tighter regulation and changing markets. "A cosmetics company that explores less toxic reformulations, embraces a greater degree of pre-market testing for health impacts, and expands its positioning in the use of natural ingredients stands to gain," the IEHN report concludes.
Ageing Claims Put Parabens Back Under The Spotlight
Researchers in Japan say that methylparaben, a commonly used antiseptic agent for a range of cosmetics products, may cause skin to age when it is exposed to ultraviolet rays.
The ingredient, which has been connected to occasional skin allergies and skin sensitization in the past, is currently listed as appearing in 3,559 products in the Environmental Working Group's database of cosmetics products sold in the US.
It is said to have a strong antibacterial effect, as well as providing a mild stimulation affect that can be beneficial to skin's health.
body or washed down the drain into your drinking water. These disruptors interfere with your body’s endocrine
It appears in a cross spectrum of products, including hair care, styling products and body scrubs. But researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine say that they are particularly concerned about a range of topical facial cosmetics products that are often used on a daily basis.
Because the product is included in daily applied powders, foundations, sun milk, and, ironically, anti-ageing products the researchers are particularly concerned by their findings.
”I think women should avoid strong and direct sunshine when wearing cosmetics containing methylparaben,” Professor Toshikazu Yoshikawa told The Asahi Shimbun
According to the newspaper report, researchers applied methylparaben to skin in similar amounts to that found in cosmetics products. The skin was then exposed to 30 millijoules of ultraviolet rays per square centimeter – an amount that is deemed to be about the average daily amount of exposure during summer weather.
The researchers’ results showed that around 19 per cent of the exposed skin cells died, while the fatality rate for skin that did not contain methylparaben was about six per cent.
Furthermore the amount of lipid peroxide – a substance that speeds up the ageing process – was said to be about three times the total of that found in the untreated skin cells.
The researchers believe that these results would mean a higher rate of wrinkling, dark spots and other signs of ageing such as diminished skin tone.
In the past the paraben chemical family has been linked to cancers – particularly breast cancer in women. As a result manufacturers have been progressively moving away from the chemical as ingredients providers strive to come up with alternatives.
Are Parabens Dangerous? Author: Ewa Farjon, M.S.
Ruth Winter writes: “The Parabens (…) are the most commonly used preservatives in the United States. An estimated 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics use parabens including shampoos, makeup, lotions, and deodorants. Water is the only ingredient used more frequently in cosmetics.” (Emphasis mine) Parabens are very popular with cosmetics companies because they are effective, easy to use and inexpensive. Until recently, they were also believed to be safe. But recent studies have found otherwise. For instance, Dr. PhilippaDarbre and her colleagues at the University of Reading tested samples of 20 different human breast tumors. According to the BBC News, they found traces of parabens in every sample. The BBC goes on to say, “Their tests suggested the chemicals had seeped into the tissue after being applied to the skin.” This study also verified that parabens can not only penetrate the skin’s pores; they can also accumulate in the body. Parabens tend to act like the female hormone estrogen; and in high amounts, this hormone can cause breast cancer. We should keep in mind that breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the U.S. Because of the estrogenic effects of parabens, the influence of these preservatives on young boys is of growing concern, as well. Researchers at the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research of Laboratory of Public Health, Japan reported that parabens have a negative influence on the reproductive systems of male mammals.
Another frightening discovery: Parabens have also been linked to excessive aging of the skin. Researchers at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan found that cosmetics with methylparaben can cause skin to age when it is exposed to the sun. According to environmental writer Simon Pitman , Professor Toshikazu Yoshikawa told The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s leading newspaper, “I think women should avoid strong and direct sunshine when wearing cosmetics containing methylparaben.”
Ironically, many sunscreens contain this ingredient.
A word of caution: If the label says that a cosmetic or skincare product contains “less than 0.25%” of parabens, you should still be concerned. Even though this amount seems small, the real problem with parabens is not with the amount used, but with the fact that these chemicals can penetrate the skin and, over time, they will accumulate in the body’s tissue. This can be especially serious if you use several of these products on your skin, each one containing a so-called “small” amount of parabens!
By EwaFarjon, M.S