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Washington Post Article Focuses On Safety Of Soaps, Makeup And Other Beauty Items.

Carolyn Butler writes a great article for the Washington Post that raises the issue again about the safety of shampoos, deodorants, moisturizers, soaps, makeup and other consumer products.

“In the past few years I’ve become much more attuned to “clean” living — organic foods, limited sun exposure, filtered water — so when a friend suggested that many of the lotions and potions we apply to our skin are bad for us, I went through my family’s bathroom cabinets and began reading labels. It wasn’t pretty.

According to Jane Houlihan, who directs cosmetics safety research for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization, cosmetics and other personal care products contain numerous ingredients — such as phthalates, parabens, formaldehye and diethanolamine — that we should be wary of. “What we put on our our skin often ends up inside our body, and so it’s every bit as important as what we eat, drink and breathe when it comes to minimizing exposure to things that aren’t healthy for us,” she explains.

Drugstore shelves are lined with shampoos, deodorants, moisturizers, soaps and makeup that contain potentially harmful ingredients, say consumer advocates. “Research has shown that many conventional personal-care products contain chemicals of concern that can disrupt your hormones, have been linked to cancer, cause allergies or can damage your skin,” explains Stacy Malkan, author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.””

What is amazing about this story is that there is still little to no action by anyone in our national government on these real health risks.  We are amazed that agencies such as the Food And Drug Administration and/or the Environmental Protection Agency seem to lack any sense of urgency in providing protection to consumers.  We understand that there are major industry groups, (American Chemistry Council) and corporations that are opposed to any type of study or regulation.  But consumers have a right to at least know what is in these products and what health risks they are associated with.

Of course the talking heads for the chemical and cosmetic industries are quick to downplay the potential health risks.  We don’t care what the industry says about there being a minimal risk due to the fact that the specific product contain such small quantities of these harmful chemicals.  They fail to acknowledge the “cumulative risk” that consumers, especially children, face when they use many different products such as soap, skin lotions, shampoos and other personal care products each day.  We don’t live in a vacuum and this argument seems to be disingenuous at best.

We hope this story will force someone in Washington, D.C. (hello Mr. President) to finally take some type of initial action.  Consumers deserve to have proper oversight of these products by our government. 

We hope you will read and share this story with friends and family.   Remember real beauty is healthy beauty.  You can click on the link to get to the Washington Post website.

We close by thanking Carolyn for writing and the Washington Post for publishing this important story.

Harriet Experiment Ask Chicago Women To Start New Year With New Hair.

Natural hair stories serve an important role in helping women develop the courage they need to take the “Big Chop” and embrace their natural coils.  Today we find just that type of story in the Chicago Tribune regarding the natural hair campaign by Emon Fowler.

"Earlier this month, Emon Fowler launched her Chicago-based "Harriet Experiment," in which she is asking black women to abandon weaves, wigs and chemical relaxers and spend a new year with new hair. She wants the women to start with the "big chop," in which they shave off their processed hair completely and start anew.

Fowler, 30, has organized gatherings to take place throughout the year for women to cut their hair while surrounded by cheerleaders who have done the same. She has been recruiting women on Facebook, stopping them in grocery stores and making appearances at fairs and festivals to promote her cause.

"This is all about breaking free from that hair bondage," said Fowler, a hairstylist. She says her project isn't about building a clientele but changing mind-sets. "When a woman decides to cut all her hair, she discovers something underneath that is liberating. It can be therapeutic because you have to let go of the idea that you need these superficial extras to feel beautiful. It says, 'I've accepted me.'"

We appreciate the extraordinary efforts by individuals such as Emon to help others understand the beauty of our natural coils.  We hope that we will all read and share this story with friends and families.

We want to thank Lolly Bowean, and the Chicago Tribune, for writing and sharing this story. You can view the story by following the link to the Chicago Tribune website.

Harvard Study Shows That Chemical Used In Microwave Popcorn Bag, Stain Replents and Non-Stick Coating In Pots And Pans Interferes With Vaccines.

A new study is out in the Journal of the American Medical Association that raises concerns about consumer and food products that use and/or contain perfluorinated compounds (PFC’s).   It seems that the study raises serious question about how our exposure to PFC’s hurts our bodies ability to benefit from vaccines.

“The researchers found that a doubling of PFC levels in a mom's bloodstream during pregnancy corresponded with a 39 percent drop in diphtheria antibody protection when the child was 5 years old. When the children themselves were tested in 2008, the researchers found a doubling of a child's PFC levels corresponded with a child being two to four times more likely to have an immune response considered  too low to be clinically effective.

"We were kind of shocked when we saw those numbers," study author Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston told Time Healthland. "This is the first study to say that by [exposing children to these chemicals], we are screwing up a major aspect of disease prevention in our society. I've been in the field for quite a while, and this is a very strong signal."”

So what consumer and food products should you avoid?  Microwave popcorn bags, stain repellents that are used on clothing and shoes and non-stick coatings in pots and pans all contain these types of PFC’s.  In fact the following quote, from the CBS News story, by study author Dr. Philippe Grandjean should make it easy to get rid of these items in your home:

“Grandjean said he couldn't give advice with certainty since the mechanism of how PFCs actually enter a child's bloodstream is unclear, but he recommends people avoid microwave popcorn, lubricants for skis and snowboards, and furniture, carpet, shoes, and clothes that treated with stain repellents.

"I don't feel comfortable with the compounds for myself and my family and would rather eliminate them," he told Reuters.”

We want to thank Dr. Grandjean his research team for conducting and releasing the study.  The team included the following people:

Elisabeth Wreford Andersen, PhD;  Esben Budtz-Jørgensen, PhD;   Flemming Nielsen, PhD;  Kåre Mølbak, MD, DMSc;  Pal Weihe, MD;  Carsten Heilmann, MD, DMSc

To read the study you can follow this link to The Journal of the American Medical Association website.

We want to close by sharing our thoughts about those who will represent the chemical industry and help in the full court press to discredit the results of this study.  We hope that you understand that allowing yourself to be “pimped” by corporations, who always demonstrate their willingness to place profit over public health and safety, that you are truly doing harm.  You should consider what your words will mean to our ability to remove these harmful PFC's from consumer and food products and how many children may face illness because of them.  At some point you must figure out that your dignity and our safety is not worth the money these corporations are paying you.

A Natural Hair Story From Zimbabwe: “The War To Tame My Hair”.

We really love natural hair stories.  We especially loves those that come from around the world.  Dr. Sekai Nzenza has written a wonderful article for allAfrica.com about her personal journey to embrace her natural hair.  Here is a glimpse of her story:

“When I moved to the city, I discovered African hair was seen, measured, compared and graded on the yardstick of European society's standards of beauty. Kinky natural hair showed that you were not civilised and not Western enough. Not only that, it revealed that you were from the village and your hair probably smelt of kitchen hut smoke.

A beautiful African woman was one with straightened hair and skin bleached with Ambi skin lightening creams. Beautiful women belonged to a different tribe. They had straight hair, straight nose and were light skinned. They normally lived in the affluent part of the city. Naturally, they got the men with nice jobs, houses and cars. They had beautiful intelligent children who spoke only English and no Shona.

My hair became a social and emotional battlefield about my image and identity.”

The full story is worth reading and sharing.  It is these types of personal stories that helps us all understand that what we believe is our own lonely journey to embrace our hair is in fact a journey shared with millions of women around the world.

You can read and share the full story by following the link to the allAfrica.com website.

We want to thank Dr. Nzenza for sharing her personal hair journey story with all of us.

African American Women In Dallas Face Highest Rates Of HIV/AIDS Diagnosis. Religious Leaders Continue Crusade Of Hate That Leads To Self-Genocide.

These types of stories are becoming far to regular.  It seems that we can’t go a month without some mainstream news source in a major city running a story that proclaims that African American women have become the largest ethnic group to be diagnosed with HIV.

Today this horrible and tragic story line has popped up in Dallas, Texas.  Steve Pickett for CBS News Dallas/Fort Worth has a story regarding “a troubling trend emerging in Dallas involving African American women and AIDS”.

“Currently, black women (we think she meant African Americans not just women) make up 22-percent of the population in Dallas — yet, according to county health officials, the group accounts for 71-percent of all female HIV cases.”

So what does this mean you ask?  Currently 7 out of every 10 HIV cases diagnosed in Dallas County are African American women.  A total of 1800 African American women in Dallas County have HIV.  These numbers are staggering.

We have written about other parts of the nation who are facing similar diagnosis trends among African American women.  We believe that the problem is that the community has associated HIV/AIDS as a disease that only affects those that are gay.  This type of thinking has been placed in our community primarily by those in our community that say they are doing the work of God.  Instead these religious leaders have turned HIV/AIDS into a Sunday sermon to attack those who are gay.  They explain away HIV/AIDS as “God’s punishment” for those who “choose” to be gay.  Now the chickens have started coming home to roost and those same religious leaders continue to turn their back on the growing evidence of this community health crisis they helped create.

In our blog entry yesterday we discussed the survey by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation regarding African American women.  This important study demonstrated that African American women are strong believers in God and participate in church at high numbers.  With such numbers though comes a great responsibility for those who lead these churches.  It is unacceptable for these so called leaders to continue their misguided crusade against gays that is responsible for creating the cultural climate that keeps individuals from openly dealing with HIV/AIDS.  The “Church” has created such a climate of hate that those who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS hide their diagnosis from everyone in fear of being labeled gay.  If this was any other profession, these leaders would be charged with malpractice and face potential criminal and civil lawsuits.  But since it is “religion”, we allow these individuals to maintain their position of ignorance even if it means the creation of a new epidemic that will devastate the community.

We believe that time has come that we as a community start to hold these “leaders” responsible for their words and stop allowing them to create this veil of ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS.  In particular, we as women must stand up and reject this backwards attempt at leadership and denounce any person who would stand in the pulpit on Sunday and preach words to the congregation that are a threat to our very existence.  There can be no justification for the “words of God” to be used as a vehicle for self genocide.  Until we demand an end to this ignorance by our Churches about the threat of HIV/AIDS within our community we will continue to see these types of stories in more and more of our communities.

To read/view the story by Steve Pickett for CBS News in DFW, follow the link.  We appreciate Steve’s willingness to undertake reporting on this important community health story.