It’s no secret that for every man that’s diagnosed with a thyroid condition, there are 5-8 women that are diagnosed as well. I discussed my Safety Theory in a blog post about how our thyroid gland is an environmental sensing gland that is tuned into danger signals around us. What are some of the danger signals sent out by women? Personal care products! In fact, women on average use twice as many personal care products as do men. This amounts to 12 personal care products with a total of 168 different chemical ingredients!
This is why, as part of my Fundamental Liver Support Protocol featured in my book Hashimoto’s Protocol, I recommend a personal product “detox” where you either stop using personal care products for two weeks, or you switch out your toxic products for cleaner versions. I wrote a blog post last year about some of my non-toxic personal care favorite products.
Here’s a short clip of my interview with Dr. Cates from The Thyroid Secret!
I also asked Dr. Cates to write a guest blog post for me sharing her experience about thyroid toxic ingredients in personal care products and the research she conducted to write her new book Clean Skin From Within and develop her SpaDr skin care line.
Here’s Dr. Cates!
Toxic Skincare Ingredients & Thyroid
5 ingredients to avoid at all costs if you have thyroid disease
It’s easy to slather on various skincare products without thinking about how it may impact your health. But, what you put on your skin can get absorbed and add to the toxins you’re exposed to each day. Ingredients found in popular skincare products have been shown to cause endocrine disrupting effects, including thyroid disturbance.
On average, we use 9 personal care products daily, which exposes us to 126 unique ingredients (according to the Environmental Working Group). The problem is that while over 1000 ingredients have been banned in Europe, the United States FDA has only banned 11 of those ingredients in your personal care products. That leaves it up to you to take a closer look at what you’re putting on your body.
There are 20 chemicals I cover in my book Clean Skin From Within to look for and avoid in personal care products. Today, I want to focus on five of these because they pose the greatest threat to people with thyroid disease (or who are genetically predisposed).
Here are the top 5 ingredients to avoid at all cost if you have thyroid disease (or want to prevent it):
- Heavy metals
1. Parabens: We know from the research that parabens are absorbed through the skin and can be taken up and stored in our body tissues. Used in many personal care products as preservatives, parabens have been detected in breast tumor tissue and are known to have hormone disrupting effects. One study found a correlation between lower circulating thyroid hormone levels in adults with higher urine parabens levels, with the strongest and most consistent associations among females.
And for pregnant women, you may want to be particularly careful because, in another study, parabens were associated with altered reproductive and thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy.
To identify parabens on skin care labels, look for propylparaben, benzylparaben, methyl- paraben, or butylparaben.
2. Fragrance: We like to smell good, and manufacturers know that. Unfortunately, the word “fragrance” provides an opportunity for manufacturers to hide a lot of ingredients that don’t have to be listed on the label. Fragrances can contain a number of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs are a class of chemicals that research has associated with certain conditions, such as thyroid problems, infertility, early menopause, and certain types of cancer.
For example, one of the EDCs commonly found in fragrance is diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is used to make smells last longer. A recent study looked at 6003 samples of Korean adults and found that urinary phthalate metabolites were associated with lowered total T4 or T3 (thyroid hormones), or increased thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels in serum.
Environmental Health Perspectives found metabolites of DEP and other phthalates in more than 75 percent of the samples from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). And, a November 2013 study published in the International Journal of Hygiene and International Health noted that eleven phthalate metabolites were detected in more than 90 percent of Canadians surveyed in the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007 to 2009. These statistics suggest widespread exposure and absorption of phthalates in the United States and Canada.
3. Oxybenzone (benzophenone): Benzophenone (BP)-type UV filters are found in many sunscreens, lip balms, and other products with SPF, and these chemicals have been shown in research to have hormone-disrupting effects. Specifically with thyroid, research shows BPs have exhibited disrupting effects towards thyroid hormone receptor, and BPs can also inhibit the activity of thyroid peroxidase (TPO).
Oxybenzone is designed to be easily absorbed. In 2008, the CDC reported that oxybenzone was found in the urine of 97 percent of people tested.
Other chemical sunscreen ingredients to avoid (due to hormone-disrupting effects) include octinoxate and homosalate.
4. Triclosan and triclocarban: Used as antimicrobial agents in soaps, the CDC found them in the urine of 75 percent of people tested, due to widespread use of antimicrobial cleaning products. Triclosan has been linked to hormone disruption, development of antibacterial resistance, and environmental concerns. In the same study as mentioned above regarding parabens and thyroid, the same researchers also noted that triclosan exposures may be associated with altered thyroid hormone levels in humans.
Last year, the FDA issued a rule establishing that over-the-counter consumer antiseptic wash products containing certain active ingredients (including triclosan) can no longer be marketed after September 2017. Some manufacturers have started removing these ingredients from their products, but it’s good to be on the lookout for this ingredient. And keep in mind – this rule does not affect hand sanitizers or wipes, so you might still find it there.
Note: The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Microbiology say soap and water work just as well to prevent the spread of infections and bacteria on the skin.
[Dr. Izabella’s note: You can read more about this in my article on the Triclosan and Thyroid connection.]
5. Heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and aluminum: These may be added to products, but most often they are present due to contamination of ingredients from the environment. Therefore, heavy metals may not be on the ingredient label. But, it’s still good to look for and avoid: calomel, lead acetate, mercurio, mercurio chloride, or thimerosal.
With accumulations in the body over time, heavy metals can impair the brain and nervous system, disrupt hormones, and potentially cause cancer. When it comes to thyroid, your body needs iodine to make thyroid hormone, but, unfortunately, your body confuses heavy metals such as mercury for iodine and will take it up into the thyroid instead. This then leads to iodine deficiency and thyroid dysfunction.
I don’t want to end on a doom and gloom note. The good news is there are healthier, natural alternatives for skincare. Instead of synthetic fragrance, you can choose pure essential oils such as ylang ylang and bergamot. And, there are natural ingredients including rosemary extract and citric acid that can work wonderfully as part of a natural preservative system. Instead of chemical sunscreens, you can choose a zinc oxide based natural sunblock. To be honest, with all the research I’ve done over the years creating my own skincare line, I must say that natural ingredients are not only cleaner, but I find they work better to help give your skin a gorgeous healthy glow.
Dr. Trevor Cates, also known, as “The Spa Dr.,” was the first woman licensed as a naturopathic doctor in the state of California, appointed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to California’s Bureau of Naturopathic Medicine Advisory Council. She has worked with world-renowned spas and sees patients in her private practice in Park City, Utah. She has been featured on The Doctors, Extra, First for Women, Mind Body Green, is host of THE SPA DR. Podcast, and has a book called Clean Skin from Within. Dr. Cates’ The Spa Dr. skin care and supplement lines are formulated with natural and organic ingredients designed to help you achieve the clean and natural path to confidence and beautiful skin.
- Aker A, Watkins D, Johns L, et al. Phenols and parabens in relation to reproductive and thyroid hormones in pregnant women. Environmental Research. 2016;151:30-37. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2016.07.002.
- Koeppe E, Ferguson K, Colacino J, Meeker J. Relationship between urinary triclosan and paraben concentrations and serum thyroid measures in NHANES 2007–2008. Science of The Total Environment. 2013;445-446:299-305. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.12.052.
- Park C, Choi W, Hwang M, et al. Associations between urinary phthalate metabolites and bisphenol A levels, and serum thyroid hormones among the Korean adult population – Korean National Environmental Health Survey (KoNEHS) 2012–2014. Science of The Total Environment. 2017. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.01.144.
- Wang J, Pan L, Wu S, et al. Recent advances on endocrine disrupting effects of UV filters. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2016;13(8):782. doi:10.3390/ijerph13080782.