Take a look at the beta version of dw.com. We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.
We are exposed to a variety of chemicals every day. Some of them can even make us sick. And they can be found where we least expect them. Three recent studies reveal more.
Chemicals in cosmetics may harm women's health
Chemicals that are widely used in cosmetics and personal care products can cause changes in women's reproductive hormones, a new study has found.
The researchers at George Mason University in the US state of Virginia tested more than 500 urine samples from 143 women aged between 18 and 44. They analyzed these samples for chemicals found in beauty products, including benzophenones, which are ultraviolet filters; parabens, which are antimicrobial preservatives; as well as bisphenol A and chlorophenols.
They found that these chemicals had an effect on female reproductive hormones. Phenol and UV filters decreased levels of estradiol, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), whereas parabens increased levels of estradiol.
The researchers say that if these findings are confirmed by more studies the implications for estrogen-dependent diseases, such as breast cancer, could be severe.
"What we should take away from this study is that we may need to be careful about the chemicals in the beauty and personal care products we use," says Dr. Anna Pollack, lead author of the study.
Cleaning products might make children overweight
Common household cleaning products may influence children's gut bacteria and cause obesity, say researchers in Canada.
After analyzing the digestive bacteria of more than 700 infants, they discovered that babies aged three to four months showed altered gut bacteria when their homes were frequently cleaned with disinfectants, such as multi-surface cleaners.
These children were also more likely to be overweight at the age of three than children whose homes had been cleaned with detergents or eco-friendly cleaners.
Stomach bacteria are known to influence our health and have been shown to affect the development of diseases.
Dangers lurking in tattoo ink
Tattoos might have become exceedingly popular in Western countries, but the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) has warned that the restrictions and requirements concerning the substances in tattoo ink do not guarantee health safety.
According to the EADV, tattoo ink carries the risk of bacterial contamination, allergies and toxic effects. Currently, two in three people experience side-effects after being tattooed. Previous studies have also shown that some tattoo inks are contaminated with bacteria, such as staphylococci, streptococci and pseudomonas.
Read more: Why tattoo ink is less cool than you think
Additionally, tattoo inks are made up of dyes, pigments and additives, some even containing traces of heavy metals, which can cause toxic effects or allergies.
People with a heart condition, diabetes or a weakened immune system have a higher risk for infection and should not be tattooed. People, who want to have a tattoo, should make sure to consult their doctor and go to a certified tattoo parlor.