Parabens & Endometriosis

 

Store shelves with shampoo bottles

What are Parabens?

Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives in consumer products.

Why are they Bad for Us?

If you happen to suffer from Endometriosis, or any other estrogen-driven condition (like breast cancer), please be aware that parabens mimic estrogen.  Just like soy.  Just like flax.  Parabens are an “endocrine disruptor,” which alters our body’s hormone levels.  They’ve been found to play a role in breast cancer cell growth, too.

These chemicals are absorbed through our skin and what we eat and drink.   Studies have shown, though, that parabens are absorbed more by the body through the skin than if you were to consume them.

What Products have Parabens?

Read the labels.  If the ingredients identify “paraben” in the word, you’ve found it: Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Benzylparaben, Methylparaben and Propylparaben.  Many products are now labeled Paraben-Free, so all you have to do is read to be a little extra cautious.

A 2016 study identified that 80% of personal care products contain parabens and that they (and endocrine disrupting hormones) affect women’s health.  Products that may contain parabens include: antacids, anti-aging creams, conditioner, creams, deodorant, face masks, hair gel, lip balm, lipstick, lotions, make-up, mentholated rubs, pharmaceuticals, shampoo, shaving gel soap, suppositories, some pre-packaged food (dairy, fish, ketchup, mayonnaise, oils, pickles, and poultry, just to name a few), and toothpaste.  The possibilities are endless.

EWG’s Skin Deep has a cosmetic’s database and identifies products which ingredients contain parabens.  (Warning : you’ll be sifting through a lot of information).  It also has a search feature so you can look for the products you use, examine the ingredients, and get some feedback on how safe this organization (Skin Deep) thinks it is for you.  I looked up my facial cleansing regimen (Andalou Natural 1,000 Roses cleansing foam, day cream, exfoliator, facial serum, mask, night cream, and toner) and am happy to report no parabens…however, I do need to take the time to research the other unpronounceable ingredients.

How Can You Test Your Paraben Levels?

Yep! You sure can.  Talk to your physician to see if it’s a test they can order for you.  Your insurance company may, or may not, cover the costs.  You fast for eight hours and pee in a little cup.  The test results are usually available within 10-14 days.  You can view a sample test report by Genova Diagnostics.

Many companies offer a paraben test.  Some companies send you to a clinic to provide your sample, while others offer an in-home test kit that you return via mail.

Direct Labs, Phthalates & Parabens Profile – $329

MyMedLab, Phthalates & Parabens – Urine profile – $235

Nordic Laboratories, Bisphenol A (BPA) Profile + Phthalates + Parabens – GBP 310

True Health Labs, Phthalates & Parabens Profile – $299

A study published in 2016 found that 100 adolescent girls who stopped using personal care products which contained parabens (and switched to “paraben-free” labeled products) for three days showed a decrease in certain parabens and endocrine-disruptor chemicals of 25-47%.  After just three days!

What Will I Do?

If I’ve learned to avoid soy and flax from my diet, I may as well learn to avoid parabens.  Why take the chance of worsening my Endometriosis, if I can try my best to help it?

Try is the key word…and because I’m going to try, I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t from time to time.  I know a healthier lifestyle is expensive…and alternatives can be hard to come by within budget.  BUT at least I can do my best to stay away from them as often as I can.

AND when I see my physician next year, I’ll ask them to see if they can run this urine test with my annual lab work.  Quite curious if insurance will cover it.

I’m also learning to avoid endocrine disruptors as much as possible, like in our antibacterial soaps that the FDA recently ordered banned…learning ALL THE THINGS!

What Will You Do?

Drop me a comment below…Or if you’ve noticed a difference after you cut parabens out of your life as much as possible…

(Updated March 27, 2019)

Resources:

Endo101Xenoestrogens Interfere with your Normal Hormones

Environmental Health Perspectives – (Article; March 2016) Reducing Phthalate, Paraben, and Phenol Exposure from Personal Care Products in Adolescent Girls: Findings from the HERMOSA Intervention Study

Environmental Health Perspectives – (Article; Oct. 2016) Toward a Better Beauty Regimen: Reducing Potential EDC Exposures from Personal Care Products

Environment International – (Abstract; Oct. 2016) A Survey of Parabens in Commericial Pharmaceuticals from China and Its Implications for Human Exposure

Genova DiagnosticsPhthalates & Parabens Profile – Urine

Natural Fertility InfoElevated Estrogen Levels Linked to Toxins in Body Care Products

One Green Planet7 Ways to Avoid Parabens and Phthalates in Personal Care Products

Peace with Endo – (Blog; Sept. 2012) Chemicals in Beauty Products

Rocky Mountain Analytical

Skin Help – (Case Study) Why I Only Use a Paraben-Free Suncream: A Case Study

The Ugly Side of BeautyParaben

Water, Air, & Soil Pollution – (Abstract; June 2016) Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Adverse Effects of Bisphenol A and Parabens to Women’s Health

Your Hormone Balance

*If you’d like to review full copies of the abstracts, please let me know*

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

FDA Bans Ingredients in Antibacterial Soaps

2254327579_1757620826

If you haven’t already heard, this week the FDA banned 19 ingredients used in anti-bacterial soaps.  You’ll see these soaps on sale at the market only to disappear from the shelves within one year…unless the soap manufacturers can find a way around the 19 ingredients that were banned.

But why?  Either the ingredients couldn’t be shown to do squat against bacteria, or they posed a potential threat to our bodies.  Interesting to note, the ban is only for the ingredients found in antibacterial soaps, not other household agents that may contain these ingredients (like creams or hand sanitizers).

Read the FDA’s announcement here: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm378393.htm

The 19 ingredients that the FDA banned from market in anti-bacterial soaps are:

  • Cloflucarban;
  • Fluorosalan;
  • Hexachlorophene;
  • Hexylresorcinol;
  • Iodophors;
  • Iodine complex;
  • Iodine complex of phosphate ester of alkylaryloxy polyethylene glycol;
  • Nonylphenoxypoly, or ethyleneoxy, ethanoliodine;
  • Poloxamer, an iodine complex of Povidone-iodine 5 percent to 10 percent;
  • Undecoylium chloride iodine complex;
  • Methylbenzethonium chloride;
  • Phenol greater than 1.5 percent;
  • Phenol less than 1.5 percent;
  • Secondary amyltricresols;
  • Sodium oxychlorosene;
  • Tribromsalan;
  • Triclocarban;
  • Triclosan, and
  • Triple dye.

The initial report I saw on the news mentioned Triclosan and some other ingredients may actually screw with hormones and thyroid levels…but that more research was needed. A study in 2010 found that Triclosan exposure in mice potentially did alter their estrogen-dependent function and suppressed thyroid hormones.  A 2016 study looked at Triclosan exposure and children.  It found that Triclosan exposure, “has been associated with increased responsiveness to airway allergens, with it also capable of endocrine disruption.”

Triclosan can be found in many antibacterial/antimicrobial soaps, as well as in toothpaste, body washes, mouthwash, cosmetics, lotions, deodorant, first aid care (including sunburn products and splints/collars), kitchen utensils, antimicrobial clothes, office supplies, etc.  For an extensive list of items (with brand name examples), please check out Beyond Pesticides.

Don’t get me wrong : it does have antimicrobial properties, and that’s been proven study after study.  It’s just that having an estrogen-driven illness makes me shy away a bit from something that may make it worse…

I’m curious to see how, if at all, things change for the medical community.  From what I’ve read, many of these ingredients are also used in pre- and post-operative scrubs, washes, soaps, and ointments.  I know the ban is focused on consumer soaps: the stuff you and I, the regular Joe Schmoe’s of the world buy…but what about professionals?  Doctors, surgeons, hospitals, etc.?  Aren’t businesses a form of “consumer?”  And if the ban does extend to them, will there be an increase in infections in their realm?

So curious.  What are your thoughts on the whole soap ban?

Resources:

Beyond Pesticides

Current Opinion in Pediatrics – (Abstract; April 2016) Consumer Products as Sources of Chemical Exposures to Children: Case Study of Triclosan

Disinfection, Sterilization, and Preservation

Food Safety News

Pubchem

Toxicological Sciences – (Article; June 2010) Triclosan Exposure Modulates Estrogen-Dependent Responses in the Female Wistar Rat

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Endometriosis & Soy Products

Bowl of soy beans in the pod

Here we go again, inspired to write due to a dietary “restriction.”  I’ve read that as an Endo Sufferer, I should avoid (or drastically cut back from) soy and soy-based products.  I’ve read soy mimics and increases estrogen levels, which we’ve come to understand can affect our Endometriosis growth and symptoms.  So today, I want to do my own research.

Soy products are the “richest sources of isoflavones” that humans can eat.  What the heck is an isoflavone? It’s a “plant-based compound with estrogenic activity” English, Lisa, ENGLISH! It means it’s a plant-based compound that mimics estrogen.  So, soy has a very rich, or high levels, of a property, a compound, a thing…that acts like, or mimics, estrogen.  The isoflavones can attach themselves to estrogen receptors throughout the body, and either mimic or block certain estrogen effects in tissues.

Why is that bad? Well, it’s not, for everyone.  Estrogen may help prevent certain forms of cancer (breast, uterine, or prostrate), stimulate bone growth, or help women suffering with post-menopausal symptoms. But for those of us who suffer from what very-well may be an estrogen-driven disease, it can be very bad.

Endometriosis & Soy

A 2001 study suggested that an increased intake of soy by Japanese women may lead to diseases which may require pre-menopausal hysterectomies, such as Endometriosis.

A study published in 2006 studied a 75-year-old woman who developed a tumor and continued Endometriosis symptoms.  She had a total hysterectomy 30 years prior and had been taking concentrated soy isoflavone supplements as part of her hormone replacement therapy for the past five years.  It stated, “[o]ur data suggest that phytoestrogens at least in concentrated form may play a role not only in maintenance of endometriosis but also in its malignant transformation.”  More studies are needed.

A study in 2008 followed three women who were taking soy supplements and suffered from various reproductive issues, including Endometriosis.  All three women reported a reduction of symptoms after they removed soy from their diets.

Soy also contains high levels of phytic acid, which may cause digestive issues and block mineral absorption.  Why do I say “may?”  Because there are a lot of opposing views on this topic online, whether they be studies, blogs, or corporate pages.  Don’t get me wrong : phytic acid has been shown to contain a lot of healthy properties as well.  But when our bodies are already working on overtime due to chronic inflammation, do we really want to tax it further with mineral deficiencies?

Today’s Soy Crops

There is a lot of uproar and concern over genetically modified crops. But what is a genetically modified organism (aka GMO)?  We’ve all heard about it in the news, read the labels, etc.

The European Union defines a GMO as “[a]n organism is “genetically modified”, if its genetic material has been changed in a way that does not occur under natural conditions through cross-breeding or natural recombination.”

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration defines “genetically engineered” products as, “[g]enetic engineering is the name for certain methods that scientists use to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism.”  Although the F.D.A. insists that genetically modified crops are safe to consume, there is a lot of concern by the general public of their long-term effects.

The Non-GMO Project defines GMOs as “GMOs (or ‘genetically modified organisms’) are organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, or GE. This relatively new science creates unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacteria and viral genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.”

In 1996, the first genetically modified crop of soybeans was planted in the United States.  In 2007, approximately 57% of the world’s soybean crops were genetically modified, over 9 countries, and consuming 60 million hectares of land (that’s approximately 148,263,228 acres!).  Since 2012, 94% of the soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified to be herbicide-tolerant; they can survive pesticides which kill weeds and insects in the agricultural field.

A 2003 study focused on genetically engineered or modified soybeans and reducing allergens, such as eliminating pollen allergens by using gene suppression techniques.

Are GMOs harmful? Depends on who you ask. Our government says it’s perfectly safe.  Other organizations say they are harmful.  Do you own research; formulate your own opinion.

Drug Interactions and Soy

Certain drugs have been known to interact with soy products.  Certain tumor-treating drugs (Nolvadex, Tamoxifen, or other Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators) may be less-effective for people who have a high diet of soy-based products.  Studies have shown a decrease of efficiency in animal studies; however, further human studies need to be conducted.  It may also have a decreased affect on people taking Warfarin, a blood clot medication.  For people suffering from hypotyroidism (which is about 42-54% of Endometriosis sufferers), studies have also shown that the dosage of Levothyroxine needed to be increased for people consuming soy-based products, otherwise the thyroid hormone levels were abnormal and the medication was less-effective.

Foods Containing Soy

This is a limited list, but food and beverages that contain soy are: edamame, miso soup, natto, soy cheese, soy meats, soy milk, soy sauce, soy yogurt, tamari sauce, tempeh, and tofu.

Many other foods contain similar isoflavones.  In 2008, the U.S.D.A. put out a report of the isoflavone content of various foods.  You’re welcome to read their report and endless tables (if you dare).  As a quick comparison, look at the content of total isoflavones found in raw edamame (48.95mg/100g), raw potatoes (0.01mg/100g), almonds (0.01mg/100g), and canned tuna (0.28mg/100g).  The Top 10 winners of the most isoflavones content on this 2008 database were:

1. soy meal (209.58mg/100g)

2. soymilk film (196.05mg/100g)

3. soy flour (ranging from 178.10 – 150.94mg/100g)

4. soybean seeds, raw (154.53mg/100g)

5. roasted soy nuts (148.50mg/100g)

6. soy flakes (131.53mg/100g)

7. bacon bits, meatless (118.50mg/100g)

8. soy protein (ranging from 94.65-81.65mg/100g)

9. Kellog’s Smart Start with soy protein (93.90mg/100g)

10. tofu (ranging from 83.20-29.24mg/100g)

Some honorable mentions include:

1. infant formulas, various (ranging from 28.01-25.00mg/100g)

2. red clover (21.00mg/100g)

3. Kellogg’s Kashi Go Lean (17.40mg/100g)

4. Jack in the Box Monster Beef Taco (15.90mg/100g)

5. McDonald’s Cinnamon Roll (6.00mg/100g)

6. Subway Meatball Sandwich (6.00mg/100g)

7. Tigers Milk Protein bar (11.50mg/100g)

8. Cliff bar, energy bar (ranging from 26.90-17.70mg/100g)

On the Flip Side

There is always the “other view” on issues such as these.

A 2007 study found that Japanese women consuming soy products have a reduced risk of developing endometriosis.

Dr. Andrew Weil, a well-respected medical blogger, suggests eating soy-based products due to their health benefits; however, discourages the use of concentrated soy isoflavone supplements and “designer foods” containing soy isoflavones.

The question of the Hour

What will you do…for you; for your Endometriosis?  The one thing I will say to influence your decision : talk to your physician or nutritionist before deciding…

What have I done?  Drastically reduced the amount of soy I consume.  I used to eat edamame several times a week, so I’ve completely cut that out of my diet.  I’ve swapped soy sauce for tamari sauce, which is a fermented and gluten-free version of soy sauce.  I avoid soy-based protein shakes or milks and now consume coconut milk and a brown rice-based protein shake.  I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on much.  But do feel good for cutting back on increasing any additional estrogen levels within my body.

Again, anything I can do to help my body fight the further progression of Endometriosis is worth it to me.

(Updated March 27, 2019)

Resources:

Dr. Weil

GMO Compass

New York Times : (Article) 2014 – A Lonely Quest for Facts on Genetically Modified Crops

Oregon State University

Oxford Journals : (Article) 2003 – Genetically Modified Soybeans and Food Allergies

Phys.org

Phyticacid.org

The Non-GMO Project

Thyroid-info.com

United States Department of Agriculture

United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service

United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service – full 60-page report

United States Food and Drug Administration

United States National Library of Medicine : (Abstract) 2008 – Adverse Effects of Phytoestrogens on Reproductive Health : a Report of Three Cases

United States National Library of Medicine : (Abstract) 2007 – Effect of Soy Isoflavones on Endometriosis : Interaction of Estrogen Receptor 2 Gene Polymorphism

United States National Library of Medicine : (Abstract) 1995 – Phytic Acid: Healthy in Health and Disease

United States National Library of Medicine : (Abstract) 2001 – Soy Product Intake and Premenopausal Hysterectomy in a Follow-up Study of Japanese Women

United States National Library of Medicine : (Abstract) 1992 – Soy Protein, Phytate, and Iron Absorption in Humans

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Truth, Theory, or Tall Tale?

causes

You’ll stop having Endometriosis symptoms, pain, adhesions, and surgeries once you hit menopause.

TallTale

There have been many documented cases of women still having Endometriosis symptoms and pain even after entering menopause.  There has even been a 78-year-old woman who had to undergo excision surgery! 78!  And this woman had a hysterectomy in her 50s.  Further providing evidence that a hysterectomy will not cure your Endometriosis (although it may take away some of those monthly uterus pains).

Women who have Endometriosis and are peri-menopausal, menopausal, or post-menopausal (whether naturally or surgically-induced) will need to talk to their doctors about any hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  Some believe that the supplemental introduction of estrogen may increase your chances of recurrent Endometriosis, especially if some Endo implants remain in your body.  Some women also continue to suffer from the digestive and bowel-related issues.  It is also important to note that your ovaries are not the only estrogen-manufacturers in your body.  Your liver, for instance, manufacturers estrogen.  I repeat: talk to your doctor.  Especially if you fear your Endometriosis has returned.

Keep heart, though.  Many women report a huge decline in their Endometriosis-related symptoms once they hit menopause.  However, as you know: Endometriosis is different for every woman. Only time will tell.

Resources:

Endometriosis Association

U.S. National Library of Medicine

WomensHealth.gov

Women’s Voices for Change

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa