Mixed chemicals in beauty products could harm women’s hormones

Mixtures of chemicals found in beauty products, often aimed at female consumers, could harm their reproductive hormones. Researchers at George Mason University, Virginia, examined the impact of exposure across the menstrual cycle in the new study


The paper titled ‘Exposure to bisphenol A, chlorophenols, benzophenones, and parabens in relation to reproductive hormones in healthy women: A chemical mixture approach’ was recently published in the journal Environment International.

The research team recruited 143 healthy women, aged 18 to 44 years, who had no known chronic health conditions and did not use birth control. The participants provided over 500 urine samples which were tested and measured for environmental chemicals.

Specifically, they were tested for the chemicals found in personal care products including parabens (a preservative often used in cosmetic products) and benzophenones (a group of widely used UV filters). Hormone levels were also measured in blood up to eight times each menstrual cycle.

“This study is the first to examine mixtures of chemicals that are widely used in personal care products in relation to hormones in healthy, reproductive-age women, using multiple measures of exposure across the menstrual cycle, which improved upon research that relied on one or two measures of chemicals,” said Dr Anna Pollack, assistant professor of global and community health at George Mason University.

The team used this multi-chemical approach instead of examining individual compounds because it was a more accurate reflection of our real world environmental exposures. The findings revealed an association between mixtures of chemical compounds in their systems and changes in their reproductive hormones.

She added, “What we should take away from this study is that we may need to be careful about the chemicals in the beauty and personal care products we use,” Pollack said, as the results suggested even low levels of exposure to mixtures of chemicals could have an impact.

“We have early indicators that chemicals such as parabens may increase estrogen levels. If this finding is confirmed by additional research, it could have implications for estrogen-dependent diseases such as breast cancer,” Pollack said.

Previously, researchers have pointed out that certain products like hair-relaxing cosmetics are particularly high in strong chemicals. These chemicals can either be inhaled or absorbed into the body through the skin.

Another noteworthy finding of the study is that certain chemical and UV filters were associated with decreased reproductive hormones in multi-chemical exposures while others were associated with increases in other reproductive hormones, underscoring the complexities of these chemicals.

In one study from 2016, researchers found benefits in taking short breaks from using personal care products made with hormone-disrupting compounds. Within a few days of doing so, participants saw their levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals drop significantly. Aside from avoiding overuse, another recommendation is to opt for products that contain fewer chemicals.

One can consider opting for organic products that contain fewer hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Source: Medical Daily