All parents want the best for their child. At the very minimum, we all want to to keep our kids safe. It’s not an easy task tough, as every day our kids are exposed to so much-both seen and unseen. As parents, we can only act on information we know. That’s why when I came across this study published by the FDA in 2003, I really couldn’t believe it. It kind of felt like what it was like when nobody knew that smoking was bad for you.
Here are some highlights of the study. I thought every parent would want to know.
In 2003, the US Federal government published a study that formally acknowledges that children are far more vulnerable to the effects of carcinogens than adults. These carcinogens can be found in food, water, air, as well as toys, outdoor decks, and body care products. Even though this study was published in 2003, very few people know about this study. Here are some hard facts reported in this study:
• Children accumulate up to 50% of their lifetime cancer risk by the age of 2.
• Chemicals that cause cancer via genetic mutations are 65 times more potent when a child is exposed to these chemicals, than an adult.
• The average carcinogen that damages DNA is 10 times stronger in childhood than adulthood
• Children from the ages of 2 to 15 are 3 times more vulnerable to carcinogens than adults.
Between 1975 and 2009, the number of cancer cases in children had increased 34.5%.
Why are children so vulnerable? Doctors know children are not small adults. Children breathe 3 times more air than adults, ingest 3 times more dust and soil than adults, drink 7 times more water than adults. They are less able to detoxify and excrete chemicals, and their developing organs, are more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposure. Children’s lower body weight, combined with rapid cell growth, contributes to faster growth of cancerous tissue. They also have more years ahead of them for their early exposure to all these toxic chemicals to take its toll. Several bodies have tried to catalogue these harmful chemicals. The US National Toxicology Program catalogued 228 chemicals as known human carcinogens. The State of California identified 475 chemicals likely to be carcinogenic, and the University of Maryland identified 853 chemicals as carcinogenic, which they claim are only a partial accounting. As a parent, that tells me, nobody either knows for sure, or is willing to say. Ugh!
Common Ingredients Avoid:
• Phthalates (linked to reduced sperm levels, feminization in boys, testicular cancer, deformities of the penis), and damage to the liver, kidney, and lungs as well as allergies and premature breast development). Sadly Phthalates are often an undisclosed ingredient in ‘perfume’ and “parfum”).
• Any product that contains “Fragrance” or “Perfume/Parfum”. There are thousands of chemicals that can be classified as fragrance, that do not have to be individually listed. It’s often where Phthalates are hidden.
• Petroleum or Petrolatum. Health Canada considers it non-toxic. However Environmental Working Group gives it a ‘moderate’ hazard safety warning. This is because there is the risk of contamination from polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This is a cancer-causing chemical found in crude oil, and its by-products. The European Union has put many grades of petrolatum on a list of dangerous chemicals.
• Talc. This is a mineral powder often used in baby powder and deodorants. Aside from the fact babies can aspirate talc into their longs, causing respiratory problems, it can also affect the reproductive system, and can produce the same consequences as asbestos
• Triclosan. Chemically similar to Agent Orange. Often found in anti-bacterial products! The Canadian Paediatric Society called for parents to avoid buying anti-bacterial products and to use soap and water instead.
• Formaldehyde: A classified carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency linked to the development of nose, lung and brain cancer as well as Leukemia.
• Also to be aware of is a toxic chemical called 1.4-dioxane. This chemical is classified as a contaminant and thus is not required to be listed on ingredient product labels. It’s used to foam products like shampoo’s, liquid soaps, deodorants, laundry detergents, toothpaste, etc. It’s also a contaminant that is easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
What you can do?
• Review product ratings on Skin Deep Database
• Buy Certified Organic food and skin care products that carry the USDA for food grade organics or Canada Organic/Biologique Seal. These are equivalent standards for Organics in North America (95-99% organics).
• Become familiar with the ingredients to avoid on any product you bring into your home. Read labels. If you can’t read an ingredient out, go home and research the product before buying.