Last week, A Missouri state jury ordered pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in damages to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was linked to 35 years of usage of Baby Powder and Shower to Shower, which are both talc-based. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. Now that the big question has risen- are conventional beauty/health products actually safe? I felt the sudden urge to write this blog entry. So here goes!
Do you realize that you are potentially putting toxic chemicals in your mouth daily? One of the first product that I switched out since learning about natural products was my toothpaste because: 1. conventional toothpastes contains toxic ingredients that are harmful to the body and 2. it is essential to my daily oral hygiene. Here are 7 ingredients that you need to avoid and a few brand of toothpastes that I have tried and would recommend!
Invented more than 40 years ago, Triclosan was first used in 1972 in hospitals for surgical scrubs to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. Its use has since expanded into antibacterial soaps, body washes, toothpaste, and cosmetics. It is also found in products such as clothing, kitchenware, furniture, and toys. Triclosan in toothpaste is marketed as an essential ingredient to help fight plaque and gingivitis but at worst, it could alter hormone functioning and upset the sensitive balance of bacteria that keeps your mouth healthy. Studies have increasingly linked triclosan to a range of health related adverse events and environmental effects from skin irritation, endocrine disruption, bacterial and antibiotic resistance. Depending on the company creating the product, Triclosan can also be branded as Microban® Additive B, Irgasan® (DP 300 or PG 60), Biofresh®, Lexol-300, Ster-Zac or Cloxifenolum.
2. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant, detergent, and an emulsifier. In toothpaste, it is responsible for the foaming action but it also interferes with the functioning of your tastebuds by breaking up the phospholipids on your tongue. Phospholipids is a subclass of a large and diverse group of organic compounds called “lipids,” they are building blocks of cellular membranes. Phospholipids perform vital functions within the body. These important cellular barriers support all cognitive function, cardiovascular health, nerve health, liver function, and digestion. SLS has been linked to skin irritation; manufacturers actually tried to get approval to use SLS as a pesticide to kill plants and insects, but was denied because of its potential environmental damage. Although SLS is not recognized as a carcinogen itself, one of the main problems with SLS is that toxic solvents, including carcinogenic nitrates are used in the manufacturing of SLS which can remain in the product.
3. Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners are often added to toothpastes. Aspartame is primarily made up of aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The phenylalanine has been synthetically modified to carry a methyl group, which provides the majority of the sweetness. Some argue that aspartame is harmless because methanol is also found in fruits and vegetables. In fruits and vegetables, the methanol is firmly bonded to pectin allowing it to be safely passed through your digestive tract; however, methanol created by aspartame is not bonded to anything that can help be eliminated from your body. Another issue is the fact that the human body are not equipped with a protective biological mechanism that breaks down methanol into harmless formic acid. Once consumed, methyl alcohol travels through your blood vessels into sensitive areas such as your brain, where methanol is converted to formaldehyde and can cause damage in your tissues.
The fluoride controversy has been ongoing for about 50 years now. Fluoride in toothpaste is believed to prevent tooth decay and strengthen tooth enamel; however, it’s been receiving increasing scrutiny in recent years. Research has shown that fluoride toothpaste if the largest single source of fluoride intake in children and is a major risk factor for disfiguring dental fluorosis. Fluorosis is a condition that affects the teeth caused by overexposure of fluoride during the first 8 years of life. Most common symptom is color discoloration of the teeth (stains ranging from yellow to dark and surface irregularities). Swallowing fluoride can accumulate in your tissues overtime and produces serious health effects including neurological and endocrine dysfunction.
5. Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is a type of synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. In toothpaste, Propylene glycol helps retain moisture and prevent the toothpaste from hardening. The Material Safety Data Sheets for propylene glycol warn that the chemical can be rapidly absorbed through the skin, with prolonged contact leading to brain, liver and kidney abnormalities. It is a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in the paint and plastics industries. Propylene glycol is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions. Did you know that the United States Environmental Protection Agency won’t allow workers to handle propylene glycol without wearing rubber gloves, yet it is a common ingredient in health care products.
6. Diethanolamine (DEA)
Diethanolamine is an organic compound synthesized from a reaction of ethylene oxide and ammonia; used in toothpaste to create the foam reaction when you brush your teeth. It has been produced in large industrial quantities since the early 1930s as a wetting agent in shampoo, lotions, toothpaste, and creams. Diethanolamine is also used in the manufacture of textiles, pharmaceuticals, and herbicides. It has been recognized that diethanolamine creates health risk upon exposure, especially in health care products where it is applied directly and repeatedly to the skin. Research has shown that, over time, DEA will chemically react with other constituents in the products to create an extremely carcinogenic chemical called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). Reports of NDEA’s adverse affects on human health links to cancers of the stomach, esophagus, liver, and bladder. Studies have shown that NDEA is carcinogenic and toxic in 44 different species of experimental animals on which it has been tested.
Thanks Obama for signing a bipartisan bill that prohibits selling and distributing products containing microbeads! Microbeads are basically really tiny plastic particles in products such as face soap, body washes, and toothpaste. Plastic microbeads are designed to wash down the drain so they do not dissolve at all! There are two problems to this: 1. If you’re using toothpaste with microbeads, at worst, you are probably harvesting toxic plastic in your mouth because they get trapped in between your teeth. 2. Plastic microbeads poses a great threat to the environment. It absorbs persistent organic pollutants (long-lasting toxic chemicals like pesticides, flame retardants, motor oil and more) and other industrial chemicals that move up the food chain when the toxic-coated beads are consumed by fish and other marine organisms. A single microbead can be up to a million times more toxic than the water around it! Watch out for these following plastic pollution ingredients as well: polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate or polymethyl methacrylate.
SO NOW WHAT?
Go look at the ingredients on your toothpaste. Decide whether or not it should be switched. If so, a few toothpaste that I would recommend are:
If you are feeling creative, you could just make your own!
To make your own homemade toothpaste is easy! You will need:
1 mini container
Coconut Oil (⅔ of your container)
Baking soda (⅓ of your container)
Peppermint Essential Oil (2-3 drops)
Himalayan Salt (1 tbsp)
Just mix and gently brush away!