Just when you thought it was safe to go back in.
A new book, “Fatal Conveniences: The Toxic Products and Harmful Habits That Are Making You Sick — and the Simple Changes That Will Save Your Health,” due out Tuesday, warns of the chemicals and other ugly ingredients we’re exposed to minute by minute in our daily life.
Written by controversial wellness guru Darin Olien, co-host of Netflix’s “Down to Earth with Zac Efron,” whom critics have accused of peddling pseudoscience a la Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, the book claims danger lurks in our food supply , on the clothes we wear and in our showers and beds.
“The list of fatal comforts is almost endless and is constantly growing as new products and new fabrics are introduced to the market and into our homes and lives,” writes Olien.
“In many cases, the harm is not even caused by the convenience itself. It’s caused by a hidden, unnoticed ingredient that comes with it: the preservative. The propellant. The seasoning. The dye. The emulsifier. The thickener. The lining of the container. The completely unnecessary smell that is only there to make you love the product a little bit more.
These are some of the most common products you’ve probably used today that Olien says could be harmful to your health.
Phthalates, a group of so-called “everywhere chemicals” used to strengthen plastics, are often found in soaps to make them more fragrant, according to Olien. That’s not a good thing.
“Previous research has linked the chemicals used to an increase in preterm birth, gestational diabetes, obesity, breast and thyroid cancer, and infertility,” he writes. “Diethyl phthalate is used to make the fragrance last longer in soaps, but the FDA does not require a listing of individual fragrance ingredients.”
A 2020 study found “moderate evidence that [Diethyl phthalate] exposure can lead to developmental effects”, but concludes that more research is needed to best suspect its effects.
Keep an eye out for any product that voluntarily lists the chemical as an ingredient, advises the author.
When shopping, look for products made with as few simple ingredients as possible and sold in eco-friendly packaging.
When it comes to jeans, it’s time to let go.
Women who wear tight-fitting jeans are susceptible to urinary tract infections “from the buildup of bacteria due to moisture not being able to escape.”
Both sexes can get acid reflux from the tight pants in addition to abdominal cramps along with meralgia paresthetica — “a painful nerve condition affecting the legs, all caused by clothing-induced compression of the lower body.”
Research from 2019 linked tight jeans to vulvodynia, a vaginal pain that lasts for months.
According to Olien, men are at risk of lower sperm counts and blood loss from twisted testicles.
There is a simple solution: “Don’t buy pants that choke you below the waist. Give your genitals a little breathing room.
What your child wears can even affect his behavior and performance at school, Olien warns. No, not because of style, but rather garments that contain chemical phthalates.
“Phthalates also affect brain development in children, putting them at greater risk for learning, behavior and attention disorders,” he writes. “In 2017, the federal government banned the use of phthalates in children’s toys and other products, but for some reason not in their clothing.”
A 2020 study “suggested that new clothing is also a major route of phthalate exposure in preschoolers.”
Here’s what to look for when your little one gets a new wardrobe.
“Wherever possible, buy garments made of organic cotton or other natural fibers. The same goes for bibs, despite the fact that a cotton bib is more difficult to keep clean than a plastic one,” he writes. “Avoid anything that is stain-resistant, wrinkle-resistant, or waterproof.”
He’s boo on the moo. Olien’s beef with milk from cows, particularly in the United States, is that farmers feed cows the chemicals recombinant bovine growth hormone and bovine somatotropin – banned by both the European Union and Canada.
“Their concern is that milk from bST-treated cows has higher levels of something called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that can increase the growth of cancer cells,” writes Olien.
According to the American Cancer Society, “It is not clear that drinking milk produced using rBGH significantly increases IGF-1 levels in humans or increases the risk of developing cancer.”
Research from 2019 shows that the dreaded antibiotic residues are much more common in conventional milk than in organic.
Cut back on AC use this summer — all that forced, filtered air can make you more susceptible to illness, headaches, and lead to lethargy, according to the author.
Research during South Korea’s 2018 heat wave found that those who used air conditioning for long periods of time were more likely to develop these symptoms.
“The likely reason is that air conditioning’s ability to dehumidify dries out the mucous membranes in our nose, throat and ears,” writes Olien. “When that happens, we lose some of our ability to fight infection.”
Olien admits the options here are limited, especially in warmer climates. Still, he urges caution: “Leave it off until it’s really painful to live without,” he wrote.
“First see if opening a few windows and turning on a fan or two is enough to make life bearable. Try to wear less clothes at home.”