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Hormone disruptors in cosmetics and their effects on the endocrine system.

On average, most of us use up to twelve beauty or personal care products every day.

These products can contain hundreds of unique chemicals that we absorb, inhale and ingest – some are linked to cancer, birth defects, learning disabilities and other serious health problems. Lax regulations mean the industry can sell products made with virtually any industrial chemical.

In this topic, I will be discussing hormone-disrupting ingredients in cosmetics that can have a range of potential effects on the endocrine system and our overall health. The endocrine system is a complex network of glands and hormones that regulate various physiological processes including growth and development, metabolism, mood and reproductive functions.

These disruptors can mimic or block hormones, leading to potential adverse effects on the endocrine system.

Here are some commonly found ingredients in cosmetic products that are believed to cause endocrine disruption:

  1. Parabens: These are preservatives commonly used in cosmetics to prevent the growth of bacteria and mould. Some studies suggest that parabens can mimic oestrogen and may potentially disrupt hormone function.

  2. Phthalates: Are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable. These are often used in cosmetics to improve the texture and scent of products. Phthalates can interfere with the endocrine system and have been linked to reproductive and developmental issues in animal studies.

  3. Triclosan: Found in some antibacterial and antifungal products, triclosan has been associated with endocrine disruption, and its safety is under scrutiny.

  4. Benzophenones: These are ultraviolet (UV) filters used in sunscreens and other personal care products. Some benzophenones may have endocrine-disrupting properties.

  5. Synthetic musks: Used in fragrances, synthetic musks have been detected in human tissues, and some studies suggest they may have endocrine-disrupting effects.

  6. Ethanolamines (DEA, MEA, TEA): These are used in cosmetics as emulsifiers and foaming agents. High exposure to these chemicals has been associated with hormone disruption.

  7. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA): This antioxidant is used in cosmetics and personal care products. It has been linked to endocrine disruption and organ-system toxicity in some studies.

  8. Siloxanes (Cyclotetrasiloxane, Cyclopentasiloxane): Found in many cosmetic products, siloxanes have been associated with endocrine disruption and reproductive effects in animal studies.

Here are some potential effects of hormone-disrupting ingredients in cosmetics

Endocrine disruption, as the name suggests, can interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system. They may mimic or block natural hormones, leading to imbalances and disruptions in hormone signalling.

  1. Hormone Imbalance: Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals can lead to an imbalance in hormone levels, particularly oestrogen and androgen. This imbalance may contribute to various health issues, including reproductive problems, fertility issues, and disruptions in menstrual cycles.

  2. Reproductive and Developmental Effects: Some hormone-disrupting ingredients have been associated with reproductive and developmental abnormalities. This can include impacts on foetal development, fertility, and the onset of puberty.

  3. Cancer Risk: Some studies have suggested potential links between certain hormone-disrupting chemicals and an increased risk of hormone-related cancers, such as breast and prostate cancer. However, more research is needed to establish definitive connections.

  4. Thyroid Dysfunction: Certain endocrine disruptors may interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland, which plays a crucial role in regulating metabolism. Thyroid dysfunction can lead to a range of health issues, including weight fluctuations, fatigue, and mood changes.

  5. Immune System Effects: Hormone disruption can affect the immune system, potentially making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

  6. Neurological Effects: Emerging research has also suggested potential links between exposure to certain endocrine disruptors and neurological effects, including impacts on cognitive function and behaviour.

  7. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions or skin sensitivities to specific cosmetic ingredients, and these reactions could potentially be linked to hormonal changes.

It's important to note that the effects of these substances may depend on factors such as concentration, frequency of use, and individual susceptibility.

To minimise potential risks, consumers can choose products with fewer or no known hormone disrupting ingredients, opt for natural or organic products and stay informed about emerging research on cosmetic safety. 

At Umthi we are passionate about formulating ingredients without hormonal disrupting ingredients and toxins.

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