Thyroid disorders are one of the most frequent (but underdiagnosed) health problems facing millions of people. Thyroid disorders can manifest in a variety of ways, including low energy, weight gain, muscular weakness, hair loss, sleeplessness and even depression.
Thyroid illness affects around 20 million Americans. 60% of people with thyroid illness aren’t even aware that thyroid illness is the cause of their symptoms. It’s estimated that thyroid disorders affect one of every eight women at some point in their lives. To put it simply, thyroid disorders are more common than ever.
Although thyroid health is influenced by a variety of factors, the evidence supporting environmental chemicals as a contributor to thyroid disturbance is staggering. These chemicals are called endocrine disruptors and they’re all around us, even in our beauty products.
What are endocrine disruptors and how do they affect the thyroid?
Endocrine disruptors are compounds (both natural and man-mad) that interfere with the normal function of our hormonal systems. They do this by entering the body through the food we eat, air we breathe and the products that touch our skin. Once in the body, they can mimic our natural hormones, block them from doing their job, or cause our bodies to over or under produce hormones.
Numerous studies now support that endocrine disruptors negatively impact the thyroid and can worsen pre existing thyroid conditions. The most well documented endocrine disruptors are Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates. A 2017 study found that higher phthalate concentrations in maternal prenatal urine samples were linked to reduced thyroid hormones in both mothers and their infants.
The complexity and interconnectedness of our hormonal systems make studying one hormonal gland and one hormone extremely difficult. All endocrine disruptors can have an impact on thyroid function, because of the way our endocrine systems are so interconnected.
What do my cosmetics have to do with it?
Many common skincare and cosmetic ingredients are endocrine disruptors. Ingredients such as phthalates, salicylic acid, chemical UV filters, BHT and more (7 harmful endocrine disrupting ingredients in your beauty products). These endocrine disruptors enter our bodies through the skin and wreak havoc on our hormones.
But the amounts of these chemicals in my cosmetics are so small
Large brands or chemical advocates will often say that the doses of endocrine disruptors in our cosmetics are too small to affect real change. They will claim that small brands are “greenwashing”, or “fear mongering” and provide evidence that their chemical is safe at small doses. While that may be true for some chemicals, it’s grossly inaccurate when it comes to endocrine disruptors.
“Whether low doses of endocrine-disrupting compounds influence human disorders is no longer conjecture, as epidemiological studies show that environmental exposures are associated with human disease and disabilities.”
What does this mean? Well, our hormonal systems are designed to react to extremely low levels of hormones. In fact, typical levels of our natural hormones are measured in pictograms (one-trillionth of a gram).
These low doses aren’t tested in the cosmetics industry. Traditionally, chemicals are tested by exposing lab rodents to high doses, then lowering the dose until no “observable” effect is seen. Sounds pretty safe, right?
Here’s where it gets interesting - endocrine disruptors have effects at low doses that don’t occur at high doses. Unfortunately, if there’s no effect seen at high doses, these ultra-low levels aren’t tested, and the chemical is deemed safe when in reality it hasn’t been tested properly for human health.
Endocrinologists have long known that extremely tiny amounts of natural hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and thyroid hormones can have big health effects. It’s not surprising that man-made endocrine disruptors follow the same rules.
Consider how many products you use in a day
Did you know that the average woman uses around 12 personal care products every day, exposing herself to about 168 different chemicals? She’s also likely to sit on a cushion containing flame retardant chemicals, eat out of a plastic container and wear water resistant clothing - all of which contain endocrine disruptors.
Although the amounts of endocrine disruptors in each of our beauty products individually may seem negligible, together they create a cocktail effect. Women generally carry a larger body burden of endocrine disrupting chemicals than men, which is believed to be due to the cocktail of beauty products.
So what can you do?
Simply saying NO to brands that use endocrine disrupting ingredients is a huge step in lowering your overall body burden of endocrine disruptors. Check out this article to learn how purge risky endocrine disruptors from your beauty products.
What you do every day matters. At Oliver, we’re proud to offer products that are completely free of endocrine disrupting ingredients. We’re creating a hormonally healthy future, join us!