It has been a busy and wonderful week! Last Saturday, I taught two workshops about herbal skin care and this Thursday from 6-8 p.m. I will be part of an Integrative Cancer Care Workshop at 2BWell (learn more and register at http://www.2bwellspringfield.com/events/integrative-cancer-care-workshop-feb-26/). Believe it or not, these workshops actually have something in common; many commercial skin products contain potential carcinogens and/or estrogen mimickers. I am certainly no fashion diva, but as a natural healthcare provider, I care about what people are putting on their skin because it might play a role in a person's future health, along with many other factors. In cancer treatment, patients may be prescribed estrogen blocking medications; these medications will work better if we reduce exposures to estrogen mimickers from the environment, as well. Just as a doctor wouldn't prescribe an estrogen blocking medication and bio-identical estrogen at the same time, I believe we should also be reducing the estrogen effects from others sources as well.
For this blog post, I would like to share a brief except from my skin care handout from Saturday's workshops...
"The skin has been perceived by many as an impenetrable barrier; however, many of the chemicals used on our hair and skin can end up in our blood and body fat and can have several health consequences beyond skin reactions. There is an old saying that goes “Don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t put in your mouth.” Unfortunately, the regulations for cosmetics and personal care products are far weaker than regulations for food and drugs.
The skin is our largest organ. While it can provide some barrier protection against infection and injury, it also has the profound capability to absorb many substances including personal care products. The skin is vital to our immune system and key to our ability to eliminate unwanted waste products. It is teaming with micro-organisms that can actually protect us, if we don’t weaken them by overusing anti-microbial products. Our skin can reflect our internal and emotional health, as well as impact our self-image.
Multiple chemicals in cosmetics have been found to have endocrine-disrupting activity (i.e. phthalates, triclosan, and parabens) and several ingredients can be potential carcinogens. Each of these chemicals are reported to be safe at small doses by themselves. What has not been clearly studied is how the combination of these thousands of chemicals used daily over decades can do to our health. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she can’t point to a single cosmetic product with carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting ingredients as a cause, because she has simply had too many of these exposures in too many products to even determine if it might be part of the cause.
Many products are marketed as “natural” or “herbal” or “containing organic ingredients” while also including mostly synthetic chemicals. We can avoid this confusing marketing and simply make our own products so we can know what we are being exposed to. For products we don’t make, we can research on www.ewg.org/skindeep to explore the safety of the products we do choose to buy."