Short-term problems from fragrance products
Include headaches, dizziness, nausea, respiratory issues, and skin irritation. Some people may also be allergic to certain fragrances, and exposure can trigger asthma attacks or other severe health reactions.
Some fragrances contain harmful toxins that can damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system.
What many people don't realize is that fragrances can have a significant impact on our hormone levels. Studies have shown that certain fragrances can disrupt the body's natural hormone balance, causing various problems, including reproductive and thyroid problems. For example, endocrine-disrupting phthalates can interfere with the body's hormones and have been linked to early puberty in girls and decreased sperm count in boys. As a result, the European Union has banned certain fragrances in cosmetics because they could cause hormone disruption.
Potential cancer risk
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization (WHO). IARC studies different agents to determine if they are carcinogenic or cancer-causing. For example, the IARC has classified several fragrance ingredients as possibly carcinogenic to humans. These ingredients are found in various products, including perfumes, colognes, air fresheners, and laundry detergents. Studies have shown that exposure to these chemicals can increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
A few fragrance ingredients that have cancer-causing potential are musk xylene 2. Other cancer-causing chemicals found in fragrance products include diethyl phthalate, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate 3, and benzophenone. 4
Styrene is also a potentially cancer-causing ingredient. It's a compound used in producing plastics, rubber, and insulation. It is also a common ingredient in fragrances. Although styrene is considered safe when used in small amounts, it has been classified as a possible human carcinogen again by IARC. In animal studies, exposure to styrene has been linked to an increased risk of cancer in the blood and lymphatic system. Styrene can also cause damage to the liver, kidney, and nervous system. 5
One woman in my community had an infant boy who was hospitalized. After arriving home with the newborn, she scoured her house and promptly threw out her plug-in air fresheners; why? Because fragrances can harm our gut health and our immune system.
The gut is home to a complex and diverse ecosystem of microbes essential for gut health. However, outside factors, including synthetic fragrances, can easily disrupt this delicate balance. When these fragrances are released into the environment, they can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Once they reach the gut, they can alter gut microbiota composition, leading to gut dysbiosis. This can lead to several health problems, including gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, skin problems, immune system dysfunction, and even depression. Therefore, it is essential to be aware of fragrances' potential gut health risks.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body and plays a vital role in protecting us from the outside world. However, the skin is also susceptible and can be easily irritated by harsh chemicals and fragrances. This can be a significant problem for people with skin conditions like eczema. Did you know fragrance ingredients are one of the most common causes of eczema flare-ups? Eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become red, itchy, and inflamed, and it can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. Chemicals in fragrances can trigger flare-ups and make existing symptoms worse. In some cases, they can even cause new skin problems to develop. Once, our washer was on the fritz, so I trekked to the laundromat. I noticed they only had fragrance-free laundry soap. So I asked the proprietor why and he said people doing their laundry always request fragrance-free brands because other soaps bother their skin. So obviously, for people with sensitive skin, it's essential to avoid products that contain fragrances.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments that can help to lessen the symptoms. However, one potential trigger for psoriasis flare-ups is fragrances. Many perfumes, colognes, and other scented products contain chemicals that can irritate the skin, making psoriasis worse. In addition, fragrances can also trigger headaches and migraines in some people.