11 Jan 2021

Are your personal care products disrupting hormonal balance?

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By Georgia Hartmann 
Women's health specialist

The endocrine system is a group of glands distributed throughout the body (as demonstrated in the image below) that produce hormones for normal bodily function.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are group of chemicals that interfere with the action of hormones.

Phthalates Are An ‘endocrine-disrupting Chemical’
Phthalates are a class of man-made chemicals widely used in cosmetics and personal care products. By widely used, I mean over 6 million tons are produced worldwide every year. 

In their pure form, phthalates are colorless, odorless, oily liquids. During their use, phthalates are leached into the environment (due to non-covalently bonds) allowing for ubiquitous human exposure through inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact. 

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Phthalates Cause Hormonal Imbalance
As phthalates interfere with hormonal balance, constant exposure (particularly from your personal care products) is associated with:

  • Early puberty, which may not sound problematic, but longer exposure to hormones such as oestrogen might increase the risk of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast and ovarian cancers. 
  • Endometriosis 
  • Shorter luteal phase (the second half of your cycle)
  • Fibroids 
  • Early menopause, affecting fertility and quality of life
  • Reduced fertilisation rates and poorer blastocyst quality when undergoing IVF

Personal Care Products That Contain Phthalates:

  • Body wash
  • Moisturiser
  • Cleanser
  • Body lotion
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Deodorant
  • Perfumes
  • Hairsprays
  • Nail polish
  • Makeup

Avoid These Chemicals In Your Personal Care Products:
If phthalates are present in your personal care products, they are likely to be labelled as one or more of the following and are best avoided:

  • DBP (dibutylphthalate)
  • DEP (diethylphthalate)
  • DEHP (diethylhexyl phthalate)
  • DiBP (diisobutyl phthalate)
  • DMP (dimethyl phthalate)
  • DnBP (dinbutyl phthalate)
  • MBP (mononbutyl phthalate)
  • MCPO (monocarboxyoctyl phthalate)
  • Phthalate
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