Ingredient Safety Expert - Dr. Christine H. Farlow, D.C.
Dr. Farlow's interest in the study of ingredient safety started with the "Healthy Eating" classes she held in her office. Each class included learning how to read and understand the ingredients on food labels. This led to the writing of her first book, FOOD ADDITIVES: A Shopper's Guide To What's Safe & What's Not, first published in 1993, and now in its fifth revision, the 2007 Revised Edition.
Her awareness of the importance of the ingredients in products used on the skin and the potential for harm from unsafe ingredients absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, led Dr. Farlow to writing her third book, DYING TO LOOK GOOD, now in its completely revised and expanded, second edition. It classifies over 1300 cosmetic ingredients according to safety and lists over 750 safe products and where you can buy them.
In Latin, doctor means teacher. Dr. Farlow takes this seriously. She is dedicated to getting her message out and teaching people about how the choices we make about simple things like the food we eat and the products we use on our skin can have long-term detrimental effects on our health. Many of the diseases we see today, like cancer, heart disease and diabetes are related to our lifestyle choices. And we have control over the choices we make.
The study of nutrition and holistic health has been a passion for Dr. Farlow since 1975. Before she ever earned the title of doctor, people were coming to her unsolicited and asking for her advice. It just seemed natural that the next step would be to become a doctor and make it her business to counsel patients in health and nutrition.
Dr. Farlow is a Doctor of Chiropractic with a specialty in Nutrition. She practices chiropractic and nutritional counseling at her office in Escondido, CA, and also does telephone consultations.
Dr. Farlow is a veteran at teaching people how to make healthy choices about what they put in and on their body. She has been counseling patients since 1984 and has helped thousands of people improve their health through chiropractic, nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices.
Dr. Farlow is the author of three health and nutrition books:
HEALTHY EATING: For Extremely Busy People Who Don't Have Time For It
DYING TO LOOK GOOD: The Disturbing Truth About What's Really in Your Cosmetics, Toiletries and Personal Care Products... And What You Can Do About It
Her books evolved out of her teaching and her nutritional counseling. These were the tools she found that people needed most to get started toward eating healthfully, making healthy eating a lifetime habit and developing an overall health consciousness.
Many additives in the food you feed your kids may be very dangerous to their health. But you'd never know it if you believed the claims of healthy ingredients on the packaging.
Take, for example, breakfast cereals. They are laden with sugar, hydrogenated oils and artificial food colorings. Sugar can cause hyperactivity, fatigue, depression, tooth decay, B-vitamin deficiency and indigestion. Hydrogenated oils are associated with heart disease, cancer and elevated cholesterol. These diseases, associated with old age, actually can start in childhood when kids eat hydrogenated oils and other foods that contribute to these diseases. Artificial food colorings are some of the worst additives found in foods and are most abundantly found in foods made to appeal to kids, like cereals, candy, gelatin desserts, fruit drinks and soft drinks. The worst are Blue No. 1, Blue No. 2, Citrus Red No. 2, Green No. 3, Red No. 3 and Yellow No. 6. Some of these colors are carcinogenic, cause tumors in lab animals and are not adequately tested.
If your child has asthma, eating raisins, dried apricots or some other dried fruit that contains sulfites may cause her attacks. Sulfites were banned in 1985 on most fruits and vegetables, but are still allowed on fresh-cut potatoes, dried fruits and wine. They can cause severe allergic reactions and have even caused death in asthmatics.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and free glutamate are flavor enhancers considered safe by the FDA. MSG may cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, itching, high blood pressure and allergic reactions. Free glutamate, the active ingredient in MSG, may cause dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, drowsiness and even brain damage, especially in children. Because of bad publicity, food manufacturers found ways to hide MSG in foods they produce. They list the ingredients that contain MSG but not the MSG itself. Or they use free glutamates instead of MSG. For example, broth may be listed as an ingredient on a label. Broth may contain MSG, but the ingredients in the broth are not required to be listed on the label. Hydrolyzed soy protein, a common ingredient in tuna, is high in free glutamates, but does not contain MSG. The label can legally say no MSG.
Even if the label says "all natural ingredients" and "no preservatives," the product could contain harmful additives. Almost all packaged foods, even so called "health foods", have additives in them, and many are harmful or inadequately tested. The manufacturer hopes you'll think these are healthy natural products, but if you read the list of ingredients, you'll find ingredients that are not common food items. If you learn to interpret food labels, you'll find that many of these ingredients are harmful or of questionable safety.
Why You Should Avoid Perfumes and Fragrances and What You Should Use Instead
By Christine H. Farlow, D.C.
Most commercial perfumes and fragrances are composed of hundreds of different chemicals. Some of these chemicals are health hazards; some cause cancer. Unfortunately, manufacturers do not have to disclose the ingredients in their fragrances. So there is no way for you to find out if there are harmful ingredients in your favorite scent.
Allergies to fragrances are common. Other symptoms caused by perfumes and fragrances include skin irritation, rashes, dizziness, headaches, coughing and vomiting. Many products on the market claim to be fragrance free. However, that doesnít mean that the product does not have any fragrance in it. It just means that there is no detectable scent. Fragrance ingredients may still be used to mask offensive odors.
So, do you have to give up your favorite scent and trade it for blah, boring, unscented or undetectable scent products? Not at all. There are safe options to keep you smelling nice. Pure essential oils offer a safe and healthy alternative to commercial perfumes and fragrances. When used as an ingredient in a cosmetic or personal care product, most essential oils are safe. If youíre using an essential oil straight as a substitute for a perfume, make sure you choose your essential oils from a reputable company and learn how to use them properly. Caution may be advised for certain essential oils used full strength. Essential oils, appropriately chosen offer great therapeutic benefit.
A word of caution, however, about essential oils. If the oils are solvent or heat extracted, they are highly refined and lose their beneficial properties. Contaminants may remain in the finished product of solvent-extracted essential oils. Different brands vary in quality, effectiveness and safety. Ninety-five percent of the essential oils sold are altered and perfume or food grade and are not pure.
So choose carefully. You donít have to give up your favorite scents. Just make sure that the products you buy contain the highest quality pure essential oils and you know how to use them properly.
How to Make Sure Your Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Are Safe
Choosing safe products can be a daunting task without the proper knowledge and tools. Many product packages are deceptively designed to make you believe that the product inside the package is herbal, all natural, safe and gentle, when in fact the product contains little or no natural or herbal ingredients, is contaminated with carcinogens and is irritating to the skin. This is the case because of the lack of regulation in the cosmetic and personal care product industry. But armed with a little knowledge and some helpful tools, there is much you can do to protect yourself.
Here are ten things you can do to make safer and healthier choices when selecting your toiletries.
Read the ingredients on the label.
The packaging may say such things as natural, herbal or hypoallergenic. This has nothing to do with what's really in the product or how safe it is. Manufacturers make a lot of claims on the package to "sell" the product. They can do this because some of the terms don't have official definitions and they can use them however they want. To really find out what's in a product, you must read the ingredients in the small print, you know, the ones that you sometimes need a magnifying glass to be able to see.
Interpret and understand the ingredients.
Once you find the ingredients, you have to be able to know what they are and if they are safe, harmful, questionable or untested. A great many ingredients have chemical names that only a cosmetic chemist would understand. However, you don't have to be a cosmetic chemist. The book, Dying To Look Good, makes it easy for you to choose products with safe and healthy ingredients.
Choose products without parabens.
Parabens are xenoestrogens or endocrine disrupters. They disturb the hormone balance in your body. They are also skin sensitizers and have the potential to cause allergic reactions. They have been found in breast cancer tumors, but it is not known if they cause breast cancer.
Stay away from products containing amines.
Chemicals that fall into the category of amines can combine with nitrosating agents to form nitrosamines, which cause cancer. Nitrosamines are formed during the manufacturing process when an amine combines with a formaldehyde-releasing preservative. Some of the amines commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products are Cocamide MEA, Cocamide DEA, TEA, sodium lauroyal sarcosinate and amino methyl propanol. Several of the formaldehyde-releasing preservatives include sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin and diazonlidnyl urea.
Steer clear of products containing talc.
Talc is found in talcum powder, baby powder and makeup. It is a carcinogen if it contains asbestiform fibers. The quantity of asbestiform fibers in cosmetic-grade talc is unregulated in the U.S. Some research suggests a link between talc and ovarian cancer.
Be cautious about products that contain fragrance.
Manufacturers are not required to disclose the ingredients used in frgrances. A single fragrance may contain hundreds of different chemicals. Some of the chemicals used in fragrances are hazardous, such as benzyl chloride, methyl ethyl ketone, methylene chloride, toluene and phthalates. Fragrances may also contain chemicals that cause cancer. Even products listed as fragrance free may have fragrance added to mask offensive odors.
Avoid D&C and FD&C Colors.
Most D&C and FD&C colors are derived from coal tar which is a carcinogen. Most coal tar colors are potential carcinogens, may contain carcinogenic contaminants and cause allergic reactions. These colors must be certified by the FDA to contain not more than 20 ppm of lead and arsenic, but the certification does not address any other harmful effects these colors may have on the body.
Beware of products containing chemical preservatives.
Chemical preservatives can be irritating and are the number one cause of contact dermatitis. Some preservatives you should watch out for are benzethonium chloride, BHA, BHT, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, phenoxyethanol and methylisothiazolinone.
Watch out for "and other ingredients."
This means there are one or more ingredients that the manufacturer considers a trade secret and does not want to list on the label. There is no way of knowing if these ingredients are safe or not.
Be wary of products with long lists of ingredients.
Many of the chemicals used in cosmetics and personal care products have not been tested or have not been adequately tested. Even those that have been tested have only been tested individually, not in combination with other ingredients. Nobody knows the effects of the many different ingredients used in thousands of different combinations, the effects of using numerous different products, one on top of the other, or the effects of repeated use of ingredients or products over time.
Become a label reader and learn how to decipher the ingredients for safety.
Every day we are bombarded with information about food products that are healthy, all natural, have no artificial ingredients, no preservatives, low fat, no fat, no cholesterol, sugar free, vitamin fortified and provide 100% of your daily vitamin requirements. Are these foods as healthy as the advertising tries to make us believe they are?
Let's look at the facts. There are more than 3000 different chemicals added to our food. The company that wants to produce the chemicals or use the chemicals in the foods they produce usually does the testing for safety. Safety testing has only been done for individual additives, not for combinations of additives. Nobody knows the effects of the many different additives used in the thousands of different combinations. To make matters worse, because of political pressure, the FDA allows manufacturers to add small amounts of cancer-causing substances to our food. So, not only are many of our foods not healthy, they're unsafe.
The FDA has even approved, as safe, additives it has known to be unsafe. Take, for example, Olestra, the fat substitute which was approved by the FDA over the objections of many leading food scientists. Olestra can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping and may even contribute to cancer, heart disease and blindness. Foods containing Olestra must have a warning label on the package.
Then there's the artificial sweetener aspartame, also known as Nutrasweet. Aspartame was approved and claimed safe by a specially appointed FDA Commissioner after his own Board of Inquiry that investigated aspartame claimed it unsafe. Aspartame can cause birth defects, central nervous system disturbances, menstrual difficulties, brain damage in phenylketonurics, seizures, death and a long list of other reactions too numerous to mention. It may cause irreversible health damage over the long term.
Fats are another story. A certain amount of the right kind of fat is necessary for your nervous system, your immune system, the formation of cell membranes, and the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins. The problem is that over 90% of the food produced today contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, which contributes to heart disease, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, non-insulin dependent diabetes and cancer. Research even shows an association between attention deficit disorder and hydrogenated oils.
The next time you grocery shop, look at the label of every item before you buy. Unless you already buy all organic and natural foods, almost every item you pick up will contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Instead, choose products that say no hydrogenated oils. Use raw organic butter instead of margarine, and extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil or flaxseed oil (flaxseed oil should never be heated).
If you're eating more chicken, turkey and fish, because it's healthier, you may be surprised to learn that sliced chicken and turkey from the deli contains nitrites. And nitrites cause cancer. Nitrites are found in almost all processed meats, including luncheon meats, hot dogs, sausages and bacon. Then there's tuna, a healthy choice if it only contains tuna and water and is only eaten occasionally. But, most tuna contains broth or hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which contain MSG. And MSG is not required to be listed on the label because it is an ingredient in the broth, not directly added to the tuna. This is the way food manufacturers hide MSG in the food they produce. And hidden MSG can be a very serious problem to those who are sensitive to it. MSG can cause a wide variety of symptoms including migraines, numbness and tingling, asthma, seizures, diarrhea, panic attacks and heart problems.
Other sources of hidden MSG include autolyzed yeast, boullion, stock, malt extract, malt flavoring, barley malt, maltodextrin, natural flavors, pectin, seasonings, carrageenan, soy sauce, soy protein, whey protein, anything enzyme modified, fermented, protein fortified, or ultrapasteurized, fast foods, chips, condiments, salad dressings, lunch meats, sausages and soups. In fact, most processed foods contain MSG according to Kathleen Schwartz of the nonprofit group NoMSG.
So, buyer beware! Even if the label says "all natural ingredients" and "no preservatives," the product could contain harmful additives. So, how do you know which foods are really safe to eat? You need to read the labels and know how to interpret the information on the label.
Here's a few hints on what to eat and what to avoid: Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, good quality protein and healthy fats. Avoid these additives:
Aspartame or Nutrasweet
MSG and Free Glutamates
Nitrites and Nitrates
BHA and BHT
Brominated vegetable oil or BVO
Olestra or Olean
Here's a general rule of thumb: If the list of ingredients is long, there are probably a lot of chemical additives in the product, and you're risking your health by eating it. If the list of ingredients is short, it may or may not have harmful additives in it, so you need to read the label carefully before you purchase it.
Dr. Christine Farlow has made it easy for you to identify which additives are harmful and which are not. In her handy pocket-sized book, FOOD ADDITIVES: A Shopper's Guide To What's Safe & What's Not, she classifies 800 commonly used food additives according to safety, whether they may cause allergic reactions and if they are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA. In just seconds, you can find out if an additive in the food you're buying is harmful to your health. It's clear, concise and easy to use. Make this book your constant grocery shopping companion and you'll never again wonder about the safety of the ingredients listed on the package. You'll know.
Dr. Christine H. Farlow, D.C. is "The Ingredients Investigator." She has been investigating and researching the safety of ingredients used in food, cosmetics and personal care products since 1991. She is committed to finding the truth about these chemicals, many not adequately tested and used far too often, by manufacturers in products we put in and on our bodies.