Study: Common chemicals in beauty products alter women’s hormone levels

FAIRFAX, Va. — Women who go heavy on the makeup may want to consider going for a more natural look. A new study finds that chemicals found in many beauty products are linked to changes in hormones.

Researchers from George Mason University urge women to consider the harm that can be caused by exposure to chemicals from cosmetics. Hormonal changes, they warn, can lead to serious conditions, including breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.

For their study, the authors collected 509 urine samples from 143 healthy women between ages 18 and 44. Participants did use birth control and had no prior history of any chronic ailments. Urine was analyzed for environmental chemicals commonly found in cosmetic and personal care products.

The authors found numerous adverse effects on reproductive hormones when these chemicals were present, especially parabens (antimicrobial preservatives) and benzophenones (ultraviolet filters). They say even low levels of exposure to mixtures of chemicals can alter levels of hormones.

“We have early indicators that chemicals such as parabens may increase estrogen levels,” says Dr. Anna Pollack, an assistant professor of global and community health, in a university release. “If this finding is confirmed by additional research, it could have implications for estrogen dependent diseases such as breast cancer.”

The researchers also note that in some cases, exposure to certain mixtures of chemicals led to decreased levels of hormones, while other mixtures resulted in increases of the same hormone.

“This study is the first to examine mixtures of chemicals that are widely used in personal care products in relation to hormones in healthy, reproductive-age women, using multiple measures of exposure across the menstrual cycle, which improved upon research that relied on one or two measures of chemicals,” says Pollack. “What we should take away from this study is that we may need to be careful about the chemicals in the beauty and personal care products we use.”

The full study is published in the November 2018 edition of the journal Environment International.

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