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Weight : Compounds in Cosmetics May be Linked to the Obesity Epidemic

Posted March 5, 2016

By Michael T. Murray, ND

Just last week new statistics showed that the percentage of obesity among adults in the U.S. has now passed 30 percent for this first time ever. To put what obesity means in real life terms, a 5'4" woman would have to weigh 174 pounds to meet the minimum requirement for obesity.

There are many, many factors that are linked to the obesity epidemic. Some causes are obvious, some not so clear. Here is one line of research that may surprise you. There is growing evidence that some common chemicals in skin care and cosmetic products may be very significant factors in promoting obesity.

Background Data:

Synthetic compounds used in personal care products are showing some alarming effects. Much of the research has focused on the effects of parabens and phthalates. The parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products to prevent spoilage and the growth of yeast and bacteria. While the phthalates are compounds that are used in plastics, they have alsofound their way into in personal care products, such as cosmetics, lotions, perfumes, and shampoo, which provide texture benefits and maintain fragrances.

These compounds are easily absorbed from the skin, especially in more sensitive areas such as the face and body folds, like the armpits and inner thighs.

The major focus on the health effects has been the effects of parabens and phthalates as "hormone disrupters" and their possible role in breast cancer in women and plummeting sperm counts in men. Recently, parabens have only been suspected of contributing to the growing obesity epidemic based largely on studies showing they stimulate the formation of new fat cells. A process known as adipogenesis.

Although the FDA, Health Canada, and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (a U.S.-based industry-sponsored panel of experts that evaluates the safety of cosmetic ingredients) have all deemed that parabens and phthalates are safe at current exposure levels, other groups of scientists are not convinced because they cite unknown effects with long term cumulative exposure of many products used over many years. The average daily use in North America shows that the average adult consumer uses nine paraben-containing personal care products a day. Regarding phthalates, manufacturers aren't required to list the specific chemicals that make up fragrances added to products, so no one really knows the exposure levels of these compounds.

New Data:

Researchers led by a team of scientists from the State University of New York investigated the urine levels of paraben metabolites in 49 obese and 27 non-obese children. Results showed higher levels of only one metabolite in the obese children, 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (3,4-DHB). The urinary concentrations of 3,4-DHB were significantly higher in obese children than in non-obese children. This association was independent of age, sex, family income, parent education, physical activity, and kidney function. In other words, it was a clear link showing that exposure to parabens was strongly correlated to obesity.

Commentary:

These results are provocative. To learn more, I want to encourage you to register for my Natural Medicine Health & Wellness Summit. It is FREE. When you register you will have immediate access to an interview that I had with my friend, Trevor Cates, N.D. -- aka the "Spa Dr." In the interview, Dr. Cates focuses on promoting beauty from within as well as provides some clear guidelines on what sort of ingredients to stay clear of in personal care products and why. Please enjoy the interview and put the message into practice.


Dr. Michael T. Murray is one of the world's leading authorities on natural medicine and the author of more than 30 bestselling books, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. He is a graduate and former faculty member, and serves on the Board of Regents, of Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington.

© 2016 doctormurray.com
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