Many people come to our office with serious health conditions wondering how they ended up in this position. After all, they are trying to do all the right things and eating a “healthy diet”. While I generally take issue with what we have been told constitutes a healthy diet, that is a matter for another day. What I want to discuss today is one of the most overlooked, under studied, and under appreciated health influencing factors, specifically, the chemicals we put on us rather than in us. Toxic chemicals in our environment don’t just come from chemical spills or chemicals in our water supply or food. We can also be exposed to them from all sorts of other products that come in contact with our skin. For those of us who don’t work in an industrial setting, cosmetics, lotions, shampoo, hair coloring, etc. are frequent avenues of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. And although many people are becoming more attentive to the ingredients in personal care products, I frequently find that the products used to wash and dry their clothes haven’t been considered, particularly fabric softeners and dryer sheets. By the smell of many of my patients clothing I can tell that, even amongst a population dedicated to a more “natural” way of healing, there is still a lack of awareness about the dangers of these products. Most of these contain known carcinogens and neuro toxins known to cause cancer and/or cause neurological damage. And once in your clothing these chemicals easily transfer to your skin and end up in your blood. Increased rates of cancer have been noted for a while now but there is a startling rise in the number of patients presenting with with neurological conditions that were found infrequently in the past, including Alzheimer’s. Could these be due to the neurotoxins we have surrounded ourselves with? Unfortunately we are already being exposed to these chemicals through pathways like our drinking and bathing water and are thus hard to completely avoid. But by making better decisions about the chemicals we put in our clothes, and thus on our bodies, we can limit our exposure. I wrote about this some time ago in my blog but check out this link to a Scientific American article that also discusses the issue and gives some alternatives to these dangerous products.
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