8 Products Women Commonly Use That Can Cause Inflammation In The Body

by Kristine Fellizar
Ashley Batz/Bustle

As you maybe aware, inflammation can lead to different health issues. Although what you eat plays a big role in controlling the amount of inflammation in the body, the products you use on a daily basis may be putting your health at risk. According to experts, there are a number of products that can cause inflammation without you realizing it.

"Inflammation is an important part of our body's immune response," Janette Nesheiwat, M.D., family and ER medicine and medical news correspondent, tells Bustle. "It's the body's mechanisms of healing and repairing itself." When your body's inflammatory response is working properly, your body can work to fight "foreign invaders" and heal injuries. However, continued inflammation can weaken the immune system, making you more prone to heart diseases, stroke, and infection.

Things like the food you eat can cause or reduce inflammation in the body. As Dr. Robert Zembroski, clinical nutritionist and author of REBUILD, tells Bustle, "The extent of the inflammation is influenced by diet, physical inactivity, exposure to toxins, too much stress, and genetics."

Toxins are present in a ton of different products, some of which, you probably use everyday. So here are some products women commonly use that can cause inflammation in the body.



Ashley Batz/Bustle

A 2016 University of California Berkeley study published in the journal, Environmental Health Perspective, found cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, and other personal care products that women commonly use contain a number of chemicals that can throw your hormones out of whack. According to Dr. Nesheiwat, cosmetic brands that aren't specifically labeled "organic" or "natural" are loaded with toxic chemicals such as phthalates, sulphates, chromium, and formaldehyde preservatives. "These not only cause skin irritation but sometimes, these chemicals are absorbed into the body," she says. Overall, it's best to use organic or more natural products to minimize your daily exposure to chemicals.


Perfumes, Fragrances And Lotions

Ashley Batz/Bustle

The UC Berkeley study also found that teen girls who switched to more natural personal care products such as lotions and soaps had significantly lower levels of chemicals in their body after a three-day trial period. According to Dr. Nesheiwat, ingredients in lotions and perfumes contain chemicals like pthalates and acetone, which can cause dermatitis and eczema flare ups, among other things. Read the labels of your products, and be sure to ask a dermatologist if you have any concerns.



Ashley Batz/Bustle

Aluminum and mercury have been found in some antiperspirants, which are active ingredients used to help plug your pores. "This can be toxic because its absorbed by the body and has even been associated with breast cancer," Dr. Nesheiwat says. It is important to note that research is still inconclusive about the direct link between using antiperspirants and developing breast cancer, but to be on the safe side, looking for deodorants without aluminum or mercury is a good bet.


Clothes That Have Been Dry Cleaned

Ashley Batz/Bustle

Getting your clothes dry cleaned can expose you to the harmful chemicals that some cleaners may use. "These chemicals can be cancer-causing and affect the brain, kidney, liver," Dr. Nesheiwat says. A 2010 study published in Neurology Today even found that exposure to to dry cleaning solvents put people at an increased risk for Parkinson's disease. When in doubt, look for a dry cleaner that uses more natural-based products.


Plastic Containers

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Studies have found bisphenol-A (BPA), an ingredient used in many plastic containers can damage brain cells. As Dr. Nesheiwat says too much exposure to BPA can affect memory, brain function, and even your mood. In fact, a 2015 study report published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences stated that prenatal exposure to BPA is associated with hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, and depression in girls. Even exposure to low doses of the chemical has been linked to neurodevelopment disorders and behavioral problems in children. Despite that, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement in early 2018 saying that the amount of BPA we consume right now is “safe.” Scientists, however, do not completely agree. Overall, there’s definitely more research that still needs to be done. But it's not a bad idea to limit your exposure to BPA by avoiding packaged foods as much as possible, stop microwaving plastic, and drink from glass bottles.


Nail Polish

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

When you're shopping for nail polish, Dr. Nesheiwat says to avoid polishes that contain ingredients such as camphor, pthalates, and formaldehyde as these can be toxic to the skin and cause irritation in the lungs. In fact, a 2011 found that formaldehyde can actually induce lung inflammation.


Shampoo And Conditioner

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Typical drug store shampoos, conditioners, and body washes can cause inflammation due to the fragrance and dyes that are added. As Ahlam Abbas, former nurse and founder of The Dirty Lamb, tells Bustle, "Sure the products may look pretty and smell amazing but what isn't realized is what its actually doing to our skin. These sometimes undisclosed fragrances are clogging pores and causing more breakouts or flare ups of conditions such as eczema and acne." According to Abbas, a common ingredient to watch out for is sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a cheap foaming agent that is linked to skin toxicity.


Cell Phones

Ashley Batz/Bustle

"There has been concern that high levels of radio frequency (RF) may be possibly be linked to neurological diseases, immune disorders, and cancer," Dr. Nesheiwat says. According to the American Cancer Society, numerous studies have looked at the possible links between cell phone usage and brain tumors. The results are pretty mixed. Most studies have found that patients with brain tumors actually don’t report more cell phone usage than control groups. However, several studies have found an increased risk of tumors on the side of the head where the phone usually gets held, but only after 10-plus years of use. Another study of 800,000 women also found no significant link between cell phone use and brain tumors. However it did find a possible link between long-term cell phone usage and acoustic neuroma, which is a noncancerous growth between the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain. Again, more research needs to be done in order to know if cell phone usage actually causes brain issues. But in general, limiting the amount of time you use your phone can help reduce exposure.

Too much inflammation in your body can lead to a number of different health issues. So it never hurts to be aware of the products you're using on a daily basis and how it can possibly affect you.