We all want to live a healthier life and choose safer products. Here is a list of the ingredients you don't want in your toothpaste, what they are and why you don't want them. Some may say, "oh it is just a small amount" or "The FDA is watching out for us". Unfortunately, these are not sufficient reasons.
Small amounts, especially of some ingredients accumulate in our bodies over time, resulting in negative consequences. Our bodies are bombarded with so many toxins everyday, that it is important to do the best we can to help it! Also, some ingredients are not as easily dispelled by our bodies, you will learn why down below.
Lastly, the FDA sadly, does not always have our backs. Congress, in 1958, added a clause to the Food, Drugs, and Cosmetic Act, mandating that the FDA "prohibits the use of compounds found to induce cancer when ingested [from food, cosmetics or drugs] by man OR animal, or if it is found after tests which are appropriated for the evaluation of the safety of the food additive, to induce cancer in man or animal". As you will learn in this post, they still continue to allow unsafe ingredients that have either been tested and proven to increase cancer risk in animals and/or people, and ingredients that haven't been tested enough to prove their safety. I'm not sure about you, but we don't want to be the test subjects for a harmful or potentially harmful ingredient.
What is Triclosan?
Chemical bactericide - kills bacteria.
Why is Triclosan bad?
The FDA recently banned it from the use in soaps, but so far no ban has happened for toothpaste - this alone should be enough reason to not use it! The EPA first classified it as a pesticide!
According to the FDA, studies show that it disrupts the levels of your thyroid hormones. A Toxicological Sciences study found that triclosan affected estrogen-mediated responses and many chemicals that imitate estrogen are also known to increase breast cancer risk. Triclosan also cuts off the thyroid hormone and therefore is an endocrine disrupter.
Triclosan also suppressed thyroid hormone in rats, and this is only one study in an accumulating body of research showing this chemical to be a potent endocrine disrupter. Previous research showed it disrupted thyroid hormone associated gene expression even at low levels and decreases circulating concentrations of the thyroid hormone thyroxine.
Another ongoing study has shown the potential of developing skin cancer after long term exposure to triclosan in animals.
Interferes with Muscle Function
Researchers found in a study, done on mice, a dramatic negative effect on muscle and cardiac functions. After exposure, mice heart muscle function reduced by 25 percent and grip strength decreased by 18 perfect.
They also exposed it to human heart and skeletal muscle cells in a dose similar to everyday exposure. This also disrupted muscle function and caused skeletal and heart muscles to fail.
What is SLS?
Chemicals responsible for the foaming action.
Why is SLS bad?
First off, SLS is usually used as a skin irritant in studies where medical treatments for skin irritation require an intentional irritating agent. It has shown to cause peeling of the mucous membranes lining inside your mouth. This oral membrane has been known as the health mirror - reflecting the health of that individual. It is a corrosive irritant that does damage by stripping your skin of protective oils and moisture. Increases your chance of getting aphthous ulcers aka canker sores. It was shown to cause cellular DNA damage in a test done in Japan.
What are Artificial Sweeteners?
Food additive to increase sweetness.
Why are Artificial Sweeteners bad?
Artificial sweeteners have been linked to an increased risk to heart disease, higher body mass/obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. It is made up of three chemical compounds: phenylalanine (amino acid), aspartic acid (amino acid) and methanol. In large doses the amino acids can be toxic.
When phenylalanine is chemically bound to other ingredients it is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream and not slowly in the digestive system (normal process of enzyme breakdown and liberation). Remember - your mouth is very absorbent and leads to your bloodstream. This amino acid can cross the blood/brain barrier and functions as an excitotoxin and can conflict with different neuronal processes. It can cause serotonin levels to decrease. It was also found in higher levels of people with HIV, sepsis, cancer and those undergoing trauma.
Methanol is a wood alcohol and is dangerous when consumed in aspartame. Some may say that methanol is harmless since it is naturally occurring in other foods, but that is different because it is bound to pectin and it is digested, instead of entering the bloodstream.
In aspartame it is bound to phenylalanine molecule and easily creates “free methanol” in times when the aspartame has been kept in a warm environment 85 degrees or more (such as in a warehouse or truck). The chemical bond decomposes before entering the body and “free methanol” converts to formaldehyde, also known as embalming fluid, which is carcinogenic.
Every animal, except for humans, converts formaldehyde into formic acid which is harmless. Humans don’t have the enzymes required for this change which is why animal studies don’t always show the real damage that methanol can do to the human body. The process in humans is called methyl alcohol syndrome. (read more HERE).
Saccharin is another sweetener that has potential to cause damage too. It was first discovered from coal tar derivatives. It is commonly manufactured by combining anthranilic acid (which is used as a corrosive agent for metal) with nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia. Studies have shown it to possibly increase bladder cancer risk in rats and humans (and another study and another one - the list goes on).
What is Fluoride?
It is the simplest anion of fluorine. Fluoride ions occur on earth in several minerals, particularly fluorite, but are only present in trace quantities in water. Natural occurring fluoride is calcium fluoride. Fluoride added to the water system is sodium fluoride and hydrofluorosilicic acid.
Why is Fluoride bad?
Fluoride can be a controversial one since we have been told for so long how great it is for our teeth. There are two sides to this story however. We are impacted by fluoride in two main ways - in our water system and in toothpaste. Calcium fluoride (natural) is not well absorbed by the body, so it does not pose much or if any problems.
The fluoride that is added to the water system is not the naturally occurring fluoride and it is more easily absorbed. This is the difference between naturally occurring and what causes the problem.
Hydrofluorosilicic acid (HFS or FSA) is what is added to the water system currently. It is a by-product of the process that creates phosphate fertilizers that is considered toxic waste. HFS also contains arsenic - yes, arsenic! EPA (supposed) MCLG (maximum contaminant level goal) standards for arsenic in the water supply is zero, due to arsenic cancer-causing impact, but they still allow it into our water system!
HFS also causes pipes to leach lead at a much higher rate than sodium fluoride. Lead crosses the blood/brain barrier (also to babies in pregnant women) and has been shown to have harmful effects, such as cancer, hormone disruption, increased lead absorption, negative effects on the brain, endocrine system, pineal gland, increase diabetes risk, immune system, reproductive system, liver, kidney, gastrointestinal system and more.
There are a lot of countries who ban fluoridation in their water supply and more are joining them. There is no considerable link between healthier teeth and water fluoridation when comparing countries that do and don’t have it in their water supply.
FLUORIDE in TOOTHPASTE
Fluoride in toothpaste is most commonly sodium fluoride. The body can accumulate fluoride over time since sodium fluoride is not normally digested, but it goes into the bloodstream. It can cause skeletal fluorosis, a disease where there is excess fluoride in the bones. It causes damage to the bones and joints. In children, dental fluorosis can occur, which is excess fluoride in the teeth, which prevents enamel from forming normally. This can cause permanent staining (white spots on the teeth) or pitting of the teeth.
Sodium Fluoride is also used as the active ingredient of wood preservatives, fungicides, rat poison, and insecticides. It works on rats by causing lesions in their stomachs, which lead them to bleed to death! You may think you are only getting a small amount each day, but that accumulates. Especially when combined with the fluoride in our water system, our bodies are being bombarded daily.
What is Propylene Glycol?
Type of mineral oil derived from petroleum. Found in antifreeze, paints, airplane de-icers, enamels, additive for synthetic dyes and flavors in food, and many personal care products.
Why is Propylene Glycol bad?
Irritates the Skin
Can cause dermatitis and aggravate skin problems.
Disrupts Our Cells and Lowers Immune System
Propylene glycol is a surfactant and can break the barrier between fat and water. Our cell membranes are made with thin layers of fat molecules, which can be disrupted by propylene glycol. When cells are exposed to propylene they become more permeable to other molecules. In another study, even at a low concentration, it showed that propylene glycol destroyed gut cells. We know now how much of our immune system is in our gut and how important it is to have a healthy gut system.
When exposed, propylene glycol is absorbed quickly into your small intestine, reaching it’s peak levels an hour after ingestion. Almost 50% is eliminated and the rest is still left after 4 hours. 55% of this is metabolized into pyruvic and lactic acids and the rest is disposed of by the kidneys.
This causes the blood to become more acidic. The kidneys, at low doses, can re-balance the blood alkalinity. However, higher doses of propylene glycol can cause the blood to become acidic and damage the kidneys and leading to toxicity. In large doses it can require immediate medical attention.
Propylene Glycol toxicity can also result in similar symptoms to sepsis or severe inflammatory response syndrome.
What is DEA?
A “wetting” agent that functions as an emulsifier for the product to produce foam/bubbles. Can be used to adjust the products pH.
Why is DEA bad?
It is a hormone disrupter and can react badly with other ingredients to form a potential carcinogen NDEA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine). NDEA is easily absorbed and is linked to cancers of the stomach, esophagus, liver and bladder.
EWG (Environmental Working Group) ranks it most toxic due to the high concerns of organ system toxicity, contamination concerns and irritation, and moderate cancer risk. The California Environmental Protection Agency also lists DEA as a possible human carcinogen.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) also found it to be a carcinogenic.
Also be aware that it can be under a different name on the label, such as:
What are Microbeads:
Tiny, spherical polystyrene beads exactly the same size, typically 0.5 to 500 micrometers in diameter.
Why are Microbeads bad?
It causes environmental damage when it goes down your drain. They are able to go through the filters at most wastewater treatment plants and into the environment. They absorb and are attracted to the surface of certain types of cells or bacterias, and easily absorb toxins. This causes a huge problem when they enter the marine ecosystem because they are eaten by a wide variety of marine life and, ultimately, humans too.
They are designed to get into hard to reach places and can get trapped in your gums. This gives food and bacteria an entrance to your gum line, which can lead to gum disease. More and more countries and companies are moving towards banning microbeads.
What is Chlorine Dioxide?
Why is Chlorine Dioxide bad?
It has been shown to be toxic when swallowed (despite spitting out your toothpaste, some always gets swallowed), can cause skin and eye irritation and damage, and it is toxic to aquatic life when it gets into the water system. It has also been shown to cause DNA damage.
What is Titanium Dioxide?
Inorganic compound that is of white pigment. Is used in paints, sunscreens, food coloring and personal care products.
Why is Titanium Dioxide bad?
According to the EWG it has a moderate cancer concern. The highest concern is when it is inhaled. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified it as a Group 2B carcinogen, aka possibly carcinogenic to humans.
There is an increase in products using titanium dioxide nanoparticules, and that may have a different and worse consequence. Nanoparticles are ultramicroscopic in size, which allows them to more easily penetrate your skin (in your mouth too!) and travel to your blood vessels, bloodstream, and your brain. Toxicity studies have shown that nanoparticles have a negative effect on brain cell function and viability (ability to survive and work properly). One study shown that titanium dioxide nanoparticles had “an increase in reactive oxygen species generation, and a decrease in mitochondrial membrane potential, suggesting mitochondrial damage”. They believed exposure to these particles can lead to neurological dysfunction. The particles were also found to harm astrocyte cells, which help regulate serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters.
What is Carrageenan?
Derived from red seaweed, It helps bind ingredients and increase thickness.
Why is Carrageenan bad?
You may think since it is derived from seaweed it can’t be all that bad, well it is definitely questionable. It is being banned from organic foods, but is still in some toothpastes. Your mouth is very absorbent which can cause problems. Carrageenan is processed through an alkaline procedure. However, degraded carrageenan is processed in an acidic solution - only a few pH points below and it is known to cause inflammation.
It is also has been linked to being a laxative, large bowel ulceration, fetal toxicity & birth defects, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance, inflammation, immune system suppression, and it promotes the growth of abnormal colon glands leading to polyps. Eliminating this from your diet can improve your gastrointestinal system.
What are Artificial Dyes?
Color dye, most common in toothpaste: blue 1, blue 2 and red 40.
Why are Artificial Dyes bad?
Well, first off - Do you really need blue or red toothpaste?
Why do you want to put color dye on your pearly whites? That should be a good enough reason, also artificial colors have been shown to increase certain health problems. Artificial coloring has been linked to behavioral problems (Europe requires it to be on the label), and to being carcinogenic.
What is Hydrated Silica?
Derivative of silica used as an abrasive and teeth whitener.
Why is Hydrated Silica bad?
It can cause damage to the enamel and prevents re-mineralization (which is so important for teeth health). Think about it like sandpaper against glass, eventually it will cause wear and tear. It not only can cause damage to your teeth, but the gum mucous membrane as well. It also can be contaminated with crystalline quartz which has shown to be carcinogenic.