This month marks 4 years since I started the journey to surviving leukemia (acute promyelocytic leukemia – always fatal without treatment). Since then, I’ve become much more interested in doing things to minimize risk of relapse, as well as other types of cancers. I’m not perfect at it, but I’m making progress 🙂 I’ve been surprised at the things that put all of us at risk, and even more surprised at the lack of concern by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the safety of personal care products, cosmetics, and household cleaning items. In the European Union, there are over 1,300 banned chemicals from such items. In the USA, there are ten. That’s it. So, we’re left on our own to figure out what is safe and what isn’t. Skin is the largest organ of the body. That’s right- skin is an organ. It absorbs things. The ingredients in whatever we touch end up in our bloodstreams, and then moves into other organs. I’ve known that skin is the largest organ since nursing school days in the early 1980s, but I just never thought about what all it’s exposed to until I learned about a company that focuses on just that…
I’ve recently been introduced to Ava Anderson Non Toxic products. They are toxin-free, vegan, cruelty-free, and often organic products. AANT has cosmetics, skin care, personal care (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc), baby skin care, and household cleaning products (laundry, dishwasher detergent). They even have essential oil combinations for toxin and alcohol free fragrances and candles. The company was started by a teenager who was horrified to find out what was considered acceptable in her cosmetics and skin care products.
The following is from the AANT brochure ‘Did You Know?’ (I had trouble matching the font size… it goes to the other line of asterisks):
*****Read your labels and avoid the following chemicals:
FRAGRANCE is a “trade secret” in the industry and
manufacturers can legally include hundreds of chemicals
in this one ingredient. More than 75% of the time if you have
fragrance, you have legally hidden phthalates (THAL ates),
known endocrine disruptors, that are linked with birth
defects, breast cancer, infertility, liver, cancer, diabetes,
obesity, and now with autism and ADHD in pregnancy
by Dr. Philip Landrigan, Mt Sinai, Children’s Environmental
PARABENS: are preservatives linked to breast cancer,
endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, and
developmental defects. California Study (10/11) of BPA
and methyplaraben combination turned healthy cells into
cancer cells, and rendered tamoxifin ineffective.
TRICLOSAN: is the active ingredient in “anti-bacterial”
products, is registered with the government as a pesticide,
and is a known endocrine disruptor. Triclosan is believed
to disrupt thyroid function and contribute to liver and
OXYBENZONE and OCTINOXATE: (and other chemical
sunscreen “active ingredients”) are UV ray filters that are
known endocrine disruptors.
PETROLATUM & PETROLEUM INGREDIENTS: endocrine
disruptors and carcinogens.
IMPORTANT NOTE: ALL SIX OF THE ABOVE ARE “ENDOCRINE
DISRUPTORS” which are important to avoid, because the endocrine
system regulates ALL biological processes in the body: development
of the brain and nervous system, growth and function of the
reproduction system, metabolism and blood sugar levels, ovaries,
testes, pituitary, thyroid and the adrenal glands. (Natural News)
The World Health Organization and the UN recently released
a report that called endocrine disruptors a “Global Threat.” Small
amounts matter, especially to the developing fetus.
PEG’s (polyethylene glycol) are petroleum byproducts.
During manufacturing process carcinogenic
contamination is created: 1,4-dioxane, which is a known
human carcinogen, with liver and kidney effects.
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS) and SODIUM LAURETH SULFATE
(SLES) are considered carcinogens. SLES is sometimes
contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. You will never see
1,4-dioxane on a label, as companies are not required
to list carcinogenic contaminants.
INGREDIENTS THAT END IN “-eth”: like ceteareth,
triceteareth, etc., carry the contamination concern
IMPORTANT NOTE: all THREE of the above ingredients carry
carcinogenic contaminant concerns created during manufacturing
for 1,4-dioxane. The government allows 10 ppm (parts per million) in
any one product, but no one is testing. 1,4-dioxane can be stripped
for pennies, and must be done for any product exported to EU.
RETINYL PALMITATE: in the presence of sunlight enhances
skin cancer lesions by 21% (FDA, 2011 Report). It is in
many sunscreens and moisturizers.
NANOPARTICLES: can cross the cell barrier and drive into
organs, including the brain in humans. There is no way
of knowing particle size, unless stated on the label. EU
manufacturers must list nanoparticles.
ALUMINUM and metals: these are bio-accumulative,
meaning they store in your fat cells and accumulate,
and are very hard to get rid of.
DIETHANOLOMINE (DEA) and COCAMIDE DEA, LAURAMIDE
DEA: DEA reacts with other ingredients to become the
extremely carcinogenic nitrosodiethanolamine. Beware
of other ethanolamines like triethanolamine (TEA) and
FORMALDEHYDE RELEASERS– DIAZOLIDINYL UREA, DMDM
HYDANTOIN, QUATERNIUM: found in most personal care
products. Formaldehyde can cause allergic reactions,
dermatitis, joint pains and headaches, cancer and
SYNTHETIC COLOR/DYES: made from coal tar, which is
a mixture of many chemicals, derived from petroleum.
These colors may be contaminated with low levels of
heavy metals and some are combined with aluminum
substrate. Aluminum compounds and many heavy
metals are toxic to the brain.
GLYCOL (propylene, butylenes, etc): is a synthetic
petrochemical mix known to cause allergic and
toxic reactions. Has been linked to cancer, developmental/
reproductive issues, neurotoxicity and
MINERAL OIL: a petroleum ingredient that coats the
skin like plastic wrap, disrupting the natural immune
barrier, inhibiting its ability to breathe and absorb
natural moisture and nutrition, and its ability to release
toxins, which can promote acne and other disorders.
The process slows down skin function and normal cell
development causing premature aging.
TALC: is in the same family as asbestos. Talc is dangerous to inhale and has been linked to ovarian cancer.
SILOXANES: cyclomethicone and ingredients ending
in “siloxane” (e.g., cyclopentasiloxane) are toxic,
persistent, and have the potential to bioaccumulate.
The EU classifies some as endocrine disruptors and
possible reproductive toxicant that may impair fertility.
Research shows some to cause uterine tumors and harm
to the reproductive and immune systems. Some siloxanes
can also influence neurotransmitters in the nervous
system. Cyclomethicone is a mixture of three siloxanes.
Now, that’s a mouthful, eh? The FDA doesn’t care that these ingredients are in our everyday products, or that we subject ourselves to toxins repeatedly. They don’t require labeling that such toxins are in the various personal care, cosmetic, and household products we use, thinking they are safe.
They don’t care that the BABY CARE products in this country contain many, many of the toxins in the above list. They don’t care that newborns in this country have, on average, more than 275 synthetic chemicals in their cord blood at birth. Do a search for ‘toxins in newborn cord blood’ and be ready to be appalled. The ‘tearless, gentle’ shampoo contains many toxins.
One of the worst offenders is air freshener, which I’m guilty of using like it’s oxygen (hey, I have a paper-trained dog, and some intestinal issues… ). Any product with ‘fragrance’ listed in the ingredients could have all sorts of toxins that are protected by trademark concoctions of smell-good stuff. Organic essential oils and candles made with essential oils and organic beeswax, coconut oil, and lead-free wicks are better options.
Mascara is packed with poisons, legally. I’m glad I don’t wear make-up. One less thing to figure out. Lip balms often contain alcohols- which dries out lips ! What a great way to make sure you keep lubing up your lips !! Shampoos are full of sulfates. I stopped using those ages ago, as my scalp peels off in sheets from that stuff. Antibacterial hand soap actually helps increase the problems of ‘antibiotic resistant’ bacteria. It’s main ingredient (usually triclosan) is actually registered as a pesticide…among other problems. Other products contain ‘nano-particles’. I’m still figuring out what those go in- but I know if I get the Ava Anderson Non Toxic products, I don’t have to worry about it. They’ve done all of the figuring out of stuff. BUT, there are other companies that say ‘natural’, ‘organic’, and ‘pure’, which mean absolutely nothing unless you read the label. There are NO regulations about putting those words on a label. OR, something could have one organic item in it, but be swimming in other ingredients that are toxic waste. Not OK. There are some other good brands of toxin-free cosmetics, personal care items, and cleaners… but know what to look for on the ingredient label 😉
Be aware that Burt’s Bees sold out to a major corporation recently, as did Tom’s of Maine (my OLD favorite toothpaste). I checked out my old Tom’s of Maine toothpaste box, and it now contains bad stuff (I don’t have a box from when I first started using the stuff- to be fair, maybe it’s always had something on the ‘avoid list’). I’ve switched to Spry Xylitol toothpaste. I also tried Earth Paste (great ingredients)… it looks like grout, but tastes OK, and has absolutely NO foam. It was kind of weird… but it’s an option. Check the ingredients 🙂
An option to talc is organic cornstarch (I avoid the regular cornstarch when I can, as it comes from GMO corn). You can mix it with essential oils in one of those little blender thingies. If you like the ‘cool’ feel of talc like Gold Bond medicated powder, some tea tree oil (organic if possible) will give you the same sensation, and tea tree oil is a known antibacterial/antifungal. Besides being linked to ovarian cancer, talc is bad for the lungs if inhaled while applying it (so hold your breath the entire time… ). It’s VERY bad for babies’ lungs. I like using a 4×4 piece of woven cotton gauze as a powder ‘puff’. It helps keep the cornstarch less airborne. But talc should be avoided. ‘Powders’ can be made from many things.
Whatever you do, be informed. Make decisions based on knowledge. Don’t assume the FDA has approved or tested anything in the products you use on your body, or in your home. Don’t assume that the companies that make these toxic products care about your health. They want your money. Until there is a mass class-action lawsuit naming the products that have these toxins in them, nothing will change- so we all have to be our own detectives and decide what is worth the risk. Some of these products can cost a bit more than the commonly found grocery store versions- but I can guarantee you, chemotherapy costs a lot more, both financially and physically, but also emotionally. I figured up what my costs will be to change over to Ava Anderson Non Toxic products (for the items I normally use). It will be less than $30/month. I can do that !