Health Products Business Article On Aurora
Natural Personal Care
New Study Links
A recent British study published in the Journal Of Applied Toxicology (Vol. 24, Issue 1) has suggested a possible link between parabens found in underarm deodorants and antiperspirants and breast cancer. Conducted by the University of Reading, the study used tissue samples from 20 patients supplied by the Edinburgh Breast Unit Research Group.
Researchers had decided to look for parabens - often used as antimicrobial preservatives in conventional deodorants, antiperspirants, and other consumer products because of their reported estrogenic activity. Previous research has shown that the female hormone estrogen is a significant anti-olobtical factor in the development of breast cancer. However, don't connect the dots just yet. "The measurements of paraben concentrations in breast tumors open the way technically to more detailed determinations of paraben levels in human body tissues," Dr. Philippa Oarbre and her colleagues wrote. "However, it will now be important to measure levels in corresponding normal tissue to determine whether there is any difference between normal and cancer tissues."
In other words, no one is saying definitively that the parabens in deodorants and antiperspirants cause breast cancer. All that can be said is that the body absorbs parabens and that these chemica1s were found in breast cancer tissues. It has not been determined whether these parabens came from conventional body care products. However, an obvious route of entry for parabens into breast tissue would be through the underarm, which is why Dr. Oarbre believes these chemicals may have come from deodorant or antiperspirant products. Further studies of paraben levels in normal breast tissue need to be conducted before any additional conclusions can be drawn.
A TIME TO TEACH
Nevertheless, the study's findings offer an opportunity for natural health retailers to educate their customers about the potential dangers of conventional personal care products. In addition to cancer-causing ingredients, some of these products may also contain chemicals that can trigger allergies. irritation, or . Fortunately, some natural personal care manufacturers are stepping up to the plate when it comes to educating retailers and their customers.
The Aurora Group of South Hackensack, N.J., for example, offers a booklet for its Druide product line that includes detailed information on ingredients, where they are derived from, and their uses in natural body care. In addition,
the company is putting together a 90-minute audio CD that discusses the function of various natural personal care ingredients.
While the mainstream companies may be ignoring reports of potentially hazardous chemical ingredients until more conclusive studies are published, natural personal care manufacturers have already taken steps to make sure their products are free of harmful Ingredients. Angella Green, marketing coordinator for Jason Natural Products, Culver City, Calif., reports that her company has been aware of the possible parabens/breast cancer link for years and is currently reformulating its entire product line to remove them as a precautionary measure. So far, about two-thirds of its more than 300 SKUs have been reformulated. She expects the remaining products to be completed in the next few months.
"We've been reformulating our products using food-grade preservatives such as grapefruit seed extract, potassium sorbate, and sodium benzoate," Green says.
Walter Siegordner, president of The Aurora Group, notes that his Druide line of shampoos, shower gels, baby care, and goat's milk skin care products use no parabens or propylene glycol. In addition, all but one of the company's Herbal Clear deodorants contain no parabens (the last product, Siegordner adds, is in the process of being reformulated). Lastly, The Aurora Group's Aroma Crystal Therapy natural skin care line is expected to be paraben-free by March.
Although Siegordner agrees that further studies must be conducted before any clear lines can be drawn between parabens and breast cancer, he does believe that consumers should be paying more attention to the quality of the personal care products they purchase. Education is key to ensuring that they understand the potential hazards of ingredients such as parabens, propylene glycol, and other chemicals.
"If we can create products without those ingredients, that would be better for everybody," he says.
Michael Schiavetta is an editor of Health Products Business
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