There are a number of reasons for the increase, including obesity and environmental factors. One possible cause is the increased presence of xeno-estrogens, chemicals which mimic the effect of estrogen and are fat-soluble, which means they store themselves in your body. Xeno-estrogens are found in many places, including cosmetics such as lipstick.
The female breast contains cells called estrogen receptors which are stimulated by the presence of estrogen (or xeno-estrogens) into producing more mammary tissue. It is possible that stimulating these cells artificially after menopause, when natural estrogen levels drop, could contribute to breast cancer.
There are so many potential reasons for earlier onset of puberty and increased breast sizes (both in men and women), it would be a bit naïve to peg the problem solely onto cosmetics in general, or lipsticks in particular.
Potential reasons for this phenomenon include, but are not necessarily limited to these varying factors:
- Phytoestrogens in soy products, including soy infant formula
- Bisphenol A (BPA), an artificial estrogenic compound widely used in plastics for food containers and children’s toys
- Increased obesity rates
- Alcohol consumption, which increases your insulin levels and upsets your delicate hormonal balance
The Not-So-Pretty Picture of Beauty Products
However, cosmetics can, and most assuredly do have inherent health risks that cannot be ignored.
A more pressing problem with lipsticks would be the fact that more than 60 percent of 33 name-brand lipsticks tested in September 2007 were found to contain surprisingly high levels of lead. One-third of the lipsticks had more lead than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy.
Considering the fact that putting chemicals on your skin is far worse than ingesting them, this is surely of concern. The average woman actually absorbs about five pounds of toxic chemicals per year from the use of toiletries and beauty products, most of which go directly to your delicate organs.
Therefore, women who apply lipstick several times a day could easily be ingesting high amounts of lead over the course of their lifetime, along with any number of other unknown chemical additives.
The Search for Beauty Often Comes With a Risky Price Tag
Personal care products are a $50-billion industry in the United States, yet the U.S. government doesn't require any mandatory testing for these products before they hit store shelves.
Instead, independent organizations have taken on the task of unearthing the truth about what you’re slathering on your body, with less than comforting results. The following toxic chemicals have been found in your shampoo, mascara, perfume, lotion, and other personal care products:
- Paraben, a chemical found in underarm deodorants and other cosmetics that has been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen, which can drive the growth of human breast tumors.
- Phthalates, plasticizing ingredients (present in nearly three-quarters of 72 products tested by the Environmental Working Group), which have been linked to birth defects in the reproductive system of boys and lower sperm-motility in adult men, among other problems.
- Musks, used as fragrances, can accumulate in your body, and have been linked to skin irritation, hormone disruption, and cancer in laboratory studies.
- Artificial fragrances, which are among the top five known allergens, and can cause asthma and trigger asthma attacks.
- Methylisothiazolinone (MIT), a chemical used in shampoo to prevent bacteria from developing, which may have detrimental effects on your nervous system.
How to Primp Without Worries
When it comes to personal care products, I like to use this rule -- If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your body.
That said, there are many natural personal care products out there, not only in health food stores (although you still have to search through natural store offerings to find the purest items they carry), but in your own kitchen.
Coconut oil, for instance, makes a great moisturizer for your skin, and you can use olive oil to deep condition your hair. As for deodorant or antiperspirant, I recommend ditching the commercial varieties and using plain soap and water to keep your underarms clean -- it works, and you don’t have to worry about absorbing any chemicals.
I know many people are loyal to their favorite brands of toiletries, but I urge you to check out the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep report. It allows you to review the safety of the products you use. It can be an eye-opener, and give you just the motivation you need to switch over to safe personal care products for you and your family.
Last but not least, I am proud to report that my team has been researching this topic extensively during the past year, and we are very close to launching one of the best skin care product lines out there. It is truly effective, has absolutely no synthetic ingredients, and is packaged in brown glass bottles.