The Environmental Working Group gives a great illustration of why doing your research on the Internet won’t always get you the complete answer. Recently they came out with a story suggesting teenage girls around the country are contaminated with “toxic” chemicals throughout their blood. They took blood and urine samples from 20 teenage girls and found 16 chemicals including phthalates, parabens, triclosan and musks. According to the EWG, these compounds have been linked to cancer and hormone disruption. All 20 girls tested positive for parabens.
By the end of the article, you’ll see that they think their results demonsrtate the government and cosmetic industry are not doing enough to protect people from toxic chemicals. They call for more regulation, reformulation by cosmetic companies and smarter choices by teenagers. These may be valid suggestions but things are more complicated than the EWG lets on.
Unfortunately, the EWG never lets good science get in the way of their conclusions. They let junk science fuel their inexplicable vendetta against the cosmetic industry.
Take one aspect this study for example. They detected methylparaben and propylparaben in all the girls tested. This is interesting and raises some questions like, why are the parabens there? If the EWG was driven by science, they would go about answering this question and a series of others. For instance.
- Will you find the same level of parabens in adult women?
- Are there any natural metabolic processes that result in the production of parabens (or a compound that gets detected as a paraben)?
- What are the other possible sources of parabens?
- What evidence is there that parabens have an effect on health?
But they are not curious, or science-based. They merely collect data that supports their mission: To scare everyone. If you’re not afraid of the products you use, then they just aren’t trying hard enough.
The EWG raises some interesting questions, but their conclusions are premature. Doesn’t it seem more likely that the parabens found in these girls came from the food they ate? Methylparaben and propylparaben are widely used as food preservatives. People actually put food into their bodies not cosmetics. And teenage girls are more likely to eat processed foods than adult women so that they would have more trace preservatives could be explained by this fact too.
Real Tragedy of Government Regulation
It seems incredibly strange to this Beauty Brain that the EWG goes after a self-regulated industry that has FDA oversight, but says next to nothing on the true outrage of governmental regulation…the health food supplement industry. Here is an industry that can basically put anything they want, make nearly any claims they want, and the FDA can do practically nothing. They are a tragedy waiting to happen.
Beauty Brains Bottom Line:
We can appreciate what the EWG is trying to do. Their Skin Deep database is interesting and if the data was better scruitinized for scientific accuracy, it could be useful to consumers. Instead, it’s like most things on the EWG site. Filled with junk science and filtered research that supports only their political position, not the complete truth.
Oh and if you are worried about toxins in your blood, don’t waste your money on detoxifying footpads. They don’t work. A better way to detoxify is to eat real food, not too much, mostly plants.
Remember, there are no parabens in peaches.