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  • Writer's pictureDr. Tamara Dickson

The Toxic Burden of Beauty

By 'body burden,' physicians are referring to the total amount of chemicals that are present in the body at any point in time. Some chemicals leave the body quickly, others circulate for a long time, and some even get stored in the body. It is estimated that the average woman is exposed to over 200 chemicals a day through various products- shampoo and conditioner, soaps and lotions, foundation, blush, deodorant, fragrance, the list goes on. Scientists and doctors know that some of these chemicals can have lasting effects on the body, most commonly on our hormones. These chemicals are called 'endocrine disruptors,' but there are also other chemicals that impact our immune systems, as well as our liver and kidneys.

It is understood that most diseases are caused by many influences happening at the same time, but it is my opinion that we should try to control and minimize any adverse influence we can. We can seek to reduce our chemical burden through changing the kind and number products we use daily. Black women, in particular, have an increased body burden of chemicals from personal care products, and by extension, this could mean that black women may have higher rates of hormonal and immunological diseases as a result. Being that black women in the United States have higher rates of pregnancy related complications, uterine fibroids, breast and cervical cancer, and various cardiovascular diseases, we owe it to ourselves to investigate and treat any and all reasons for this disparity. We must be more cautious about the products we apply on our hair, skin, and nails every day, or every month, or every 4-6 weeks when the new growth starts to show because the chemicals can be making things worse. All women must become skilled at reading labels.

For more info on reading labels on your personal care products, visit The Environmental Working Group.

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