The trend in chemical-free cosmetics and shampoos may be a healthier choice for everyone, particularly teen-age girls. A new study found that common hormone-disrupting chemicals found in many shampoos and cosmetics, may have a negative impact on the reproductive development of adolescent girls.
Chemicals widely used in personal care products -- including phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone -- have been shown to interfere with the hormone system in animals, the researchers explained. These chemicals are found in many fragrances, cosmetics, hair products, soaps and sunscreens.
"Because women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they may be disproportionately exposed to these chemicals," said study lead author Kim Harley. She is associate director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children's Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
"Teen girls may be at particular risk since it's a time of rapid reproductive development, and research has suggested that they use more personal care products per day than the average adult woman," Harley added in a university news release.
Researchers noted that cosmetic and personal care products are not well regulated in the United States, so it’s difficult to get good data on their health effects.
However, there is increasing evidence linking hormone-disrupting chemicals with behavioral problems, obesity and cancer cell growth, the researchers said.
"We know enough to be concerned about teen girls' exposure to these chemicals. Sometimes it's worth taking a precautionary approach, especially if there are easy changes people can make in the products they buy," Harley said.
The study involved 100 Hispanic teens that used make-up, shampoo and lotion products labeled chemical-free. The girl’s urine was analyzed before and after the three - day trial. The participants showed a significant drop in levels of the hormone-disrupting chemicals in their bodies.
Metabolites of diethyl phthalate, commonly used in fragrances, decreased 27 percent by the end of the trial period. Methyl and propyl parabens, used as preservatives in cosmetics, dropped 44 and 45 percent respectively.
Benzophenone-3 (BP-3), found in some sunscreens under the name oxybenzone, fell 36 percent.
Kimberly Parra, study co-director, said it was important to involve local youth in the design and implementation of the study.
“The results of the study are particularly interesting on a scientific level, but the fact that high school students led the study set a new path to engaging youth to learn about science and how it can be used to improve the health of their communities,” she said. “After learning of the results, the youth took it upon themselves to educate friends and community members, and presented their cause to legislatures in Sacramento.”
Many of the chemical-free products cost more than regular shampoos and cosmetics, tempting college students and younger teen families to choose the less expensive brands.
However, splurging more on products with fewer chemicals may pay off in the future, researchers said.
The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Story Sources: Robert Preidt, http://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/chemical-health-news-730/teens-cosmetics-chemicals-708646.html
Sarah Yang, http://universityofcalifornia.edu/news/teen-girls-see-big-drop-chemical-exposure-switch-cosmetics