Without a doubt, far more women approach me with questions about how to improve their health than men do. Whether it’s to look better, feel better, or improve the wellbeing of their family, I’ve watched several of my female patients diligently perform a complete lifestyle make-over in the interest of improving their health, often dragging unwilling husbands behind them.
But, simultaneously, a substantial majority of women continue to thwart their very best health improvement efforts, without even being aware of it. Tragically, some of the most common lifestyle habits and daily practices in the lives of women silently pave a path towards life-threatening infections, allergies, hormonal imbalances, chronic illnesses, infertility, disabilities, cancer, and even death, while most of the women who do these things – everyday – are none the wiser.
The ever increasing prevalence of artificial chemicals, poisonous toxins and unhealthy lifestyle habits impact both men and women in terrifying ways; however, women’s health is in an especially dangerous position in the modern era.
But Ladies – it doesn’t have to be this way! I’d like you to take your health back into your own hands, today! You may be shocked to realize that these seven common daily practices are silently sabotaging your health. By exploring the simple alternative strategies that I offer you below, you can become the savior of your own health and future wellbeing.
7 Common Ways Women Are Unknowingly Risking Their Health
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, women use an average of about twelve to fifteen personal-care consumer products a day, while men use only half that number. This exposes women to a much greater myriad of artificial chemicals and chemical blends, which have been linked to hormonal disruptions, infertility and cancer.
A recent study conducted at the University of California analyzed thirty two of the most popular lipsticks and lip glosses commonly sold at drug stores and department stores. They discovered concerning levels of several different metals, such as lead, cadmium and chromium, which are associated with infertility, miscarriage, neurological problems, tumors, and nervous system issues. Many lipsticks also contain chemicals that dangerously mimic the effects of estrogen, such as parabens and phthalates. Parabens have been associated with increased risks for breast cancer, while phthalates are linked to infertility, obesity, asthma, allergies, leiomyomas and breast cancer.
The average woman absorbs five pounds of toxic chemicals a year, and lipstick poses a double risk of exposure. Women who regularly apply lipstick several times a day not only swallow these chemicals on a continuous basis, but also absorb them directly through the sensitive skin of the lips, shooting these chemicals directly into the organs without filtering.
Try This: Look for lipsticks that are labeled “chemical-free,” and that are made from natural ingredients. If this is difficult to find or you are committed to a favorite lipstick brand, then investigate its chemical “hazard rating” in The Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” online database (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/).
In the course of a lifetime, the average woman uses tens of thousands of tampons and sanitary pads. These products are highly bleached, which can introduce toxic carcinogens such as dioxin, chlorine disinfection by-products, petrochemicals and chemical plasticizers directly into your body. Even trace levels of dioxin have been linked to abnormal tissue and cell growth, immune system suppression, and hormone and endocrine system disruption.
Try This: Try to avoid the use of super-absorbent tampons, using the lowest absorbency rate necessary to handle your flow. Alternate your use of tampons and sanitary napkins, do not use tampons overnight, change tampons regularly, and look for tampons and sanitary napkins made from natural ingredients, labeled “chlorine-free.”
Human feet are designed to perfectly balance and stabilize your body as you walk and run. Wearing high heeled shoes interferes with this normal biomechanical pattern, resulting in excessive stress on the ankles, knees, pelvis and spine. This imbalance can lead to knee pain, back pain, hip pain and headaches. Women have about four times as many foot problems as men.
Try This: If you are a lover of high heels, try saving them for very special occasions only. On a regular basis, try and stick to comfortable shoes that offer good support and encourage natural posture and walking patterns.
One group of researchers found that 60% of American women between the ages of 18 and 29 are “always or sometimes completely bare down there.” However, waxing and shaving leave thousands of tiny skin wounds in their wake, making this sensitive area susceptible to folliculitis, skin viruses, sexually transmitted diseases and potentially life-threatening bacterial infections. The state of New Jersey nearly banned Brazilian bikini waxes after two women were hospitalized with infections, and an Australian woman with type 1 diabetes nearly died of a bacterial infection related to a recent bikini wax.
Try This: Although body hair on women is largely demonized in society, you must remember that pubic hair is there for a very good reason: to provide protection for the vulnerable skin and mucous membranes of the sensitive genital area. If you do choose to wax, then make sure that the facility and/or aesthetician are properly licensed and practice the highest standards of hygiene and cleanliness. Hard wax is gentler on the skin than soft, sticky waxes, while natural “sugaring” is another hair removal technique that is even gentler on the skin. Women with diabetes, kidney or liver disease, weakened immunity or skin conditions should avoid waxing.
Today’s high-paced and high-demanding society can create a great deal of stress for people trying to juggle all of life’s many priorities. And statistics show that women tend to have even busier lives than men.
While we’ve made significant leaps when it comes to gender roles, statistics show that women are still doing the vast majority of the housework in the average household. This exposes them to hundreds of corrosive cleansing agents and detergents that contain harmful ingredients like ammonia and chlorine bleach, which produce fumes irritating to the membranes of the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and even the heart. Moreover, most cleaning products contain fragrance. Women are more likely than men to suffer from allergies to fragrance-creating chemicals, causing respiratory irritation, watery eyes, sneezing and headaches, and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that one-third of the chemicals used to produce fragrance in consumer products are toxic.
When women are not at home cleaning, the Cleveland Clinic found that over 70% of American women with children under the age of 18 are spending their time employed outside of the home, as well as engaged in childcare responsibilities. This can present an extremely hectic schedule for most women, and a high degree of stress.
While you may be someone who enjoys staying busy and thrives on pressure, you may have to be careful. Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that women’s bodies are less physically suited to cope with stress than men, responding more sensitively to low levels of certain stress hormones and less able to physiologically adapt to high stress levels. This increases women’s risks for poor digestion, bowel disorders, headaches, eating disorders, immune disorders, arthritis, infections, sexual issues, ulcers and cancer. Women also have significantly higher rates of sleep problems, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, stress-related psychiatric disorders, and other anxiety disorders than men do.
Try This: Remember that personal down-time is an equally important priority, and must be planned and committed to just as any other priority on the list. Feel comfortable asking for help, as well as saying “no” when you are feeling too overloaded or overwhelmed. Make time for stress-alleviating activities, such as exercise, stretching, taking a bath, meditation, spiritual reflection, socializing with friends, sleeping, and other activities that you enjoy.
Hair washing is a basic ritual that you probably perform almost every day – and if you are following the instructions on the bottle label, than you are repeating it twice. But the majority of popular shampoo brands contain ingredients known to be possible carcinogens. Sodium laureth sulfate (as well as sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, ammonium xylene sulfonate, TEA lauryl sufate, etc.), which creates lather in shampoo, is a suspected cancer-causing agent and could irritate the scalp and skin. Parabens, which act as a cheap preservative in shampoos and cosmetics, mimic the action of estrogen hormones in the body, linked to increased risk for breast cancer. Diethanolimine (DEA) and triethanolamine (TEA) are shampoo wetting agents associated with cancer in laboratory animals, while formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane – byproducts that don’t legally have to appear on the bottle label – are probable carcinogens that can cause neurological symptoms and depress the nervous system.
Try This: Find out the chemical “hazard rating” of your favorite shampoo in The Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” online database (http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/). Look for shampoos labeled “paraben-free,” “sulfate-free,” and “petroleum-free,” and shampoos made from natural ingredients and plant oils. Although they may produce less lather (since they are not made out of synthetic chemicals), they are safer for your health and the environment.
No matter how many times the fashion trends change, women can’t seem to escape the ever-recurring style of skinny pants, skin-tight skirts and constrictive clothing. Dr. John Michael Li, a neurologist at RushUniversityMedicalCenter in Chicago, reports that clothing that restricts the abdominal area commonly creates symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, poor digestion, acid reflux, belching and chronic heart burn. Another common complaint from wearing tight pants is numbness in the thigh, due to constriction of a pelvic sensory nerve. Repeated incidences of continual nerve constriction can cause permanent damage.
Try This: If you decide to wear tight-fitting clothing, make sure that you can comfortably breath and that you do not experience a sensation of pressure around your abdomen or thighs when you are standing up or when you are sitting down. Remember that women come in all different shapes and sizes, and trying to squeeze all of these beautiful shapes into just one – and quite rare – mold is not only doing a disservice to yourself, but also does a disservice to all women, as well as society’s entire conception of what true, beautiful femininity actually looks like.