Typically we take for granted the safety of cotton products such as gauze, bandages, swabs, pads, wipes — and even feminine products, like tampons and sanitary pads. But a 2015 Argentinian study should give us pause for thought.
As it turns out, researchers from the University of La Plata found that a vast majority of these products contain glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s wildly popular Roundup herbicide and the same chemical that’s considered a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization.
If that’s not enough to get your attention, glyphosate is also associated with IQ loss/intellectual disability, autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, obesity (both child and adult), diabetes, infertility and cardiovascular disease. Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of chemical you want absorbed by wounds, or worse, through the vagina.
“Chemicals absorbed through the vagina are easily and effectively distributed throughout the body, without being metabolized. for example, when estrogenic drugs are administered vaginally, the resulting systemic levels of the drug in the body can be 10-80 times higher than when the very same dose is given orally.” [source]
Not only did the research team find 85 percent of the cotton products tested positive for glyphosate, but also discovered that 62 percent of the samples contained AMPA (or aminomethylphosphonic acid) — an environmental metabolite of glyphosate, which is potentially 1,000 times more toxic once inside the body.
However, the numbers were higher for some of the products. Says lead researcher Dr. Damian Marino:
“Eighty-five percent of all samples tested positive for glyphosate and 62 percent for AMPA, which is the environmental metabolite, but in the case of cotton and sterile cotton gauze the figure was 100 percent.”
All the samples — gauze, swabs, wipes and feminine care products — were purchased in the La Plata area from local pharmacies and supermarkets.
Video: Ladies, Study Says You Might Be Putting Glyphosate-Tainted Tampons in Your Vagina
“It might not be the most popular thing to discuss, but we probably should. I admit I chose this title on purpose to catch your attention, but now that I have it, have you ever considered that the majority of cotton (in the U.S. anyway) is genetically modified, and as such, it might be tainted with cancer-causing, endocrine-disrupting, infertility-promoting glyphosate?” [source]
Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, president of the congress, draws attention to the fact that most cotton production is now genetically modified, where Roundup “is sprayed when the bud is open and the glyphosate is condensed and goes straight into the product.”
In the U.S. alone, farmers sprayed an astonishing 2.6 billion pounds of the herbicide over agricultural land between 1992 and 2012. The chemical not only contaminates crops like cotton — but also the soil, air and waterways.
Gambling With Women’s Health
This isn’t the first time feminine care products have come under fire for unregulated safety issues. According to Women’s Voices for the Earth, health hazards include:
Tampons: Toxic ingredients: dioxins and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), pesticide residues and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns: cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and allergic rash.
Pads: Toxic ingredients: dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Exposure concerns: cancer, reproductive harm and endocrine disruption. Studies link pad use to allergic rash.
Feminine Wipes: Toxic ingredients: methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, parabens, quaternium-15, dmdm Hydantoin and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns: cancer and endocrine disruption, allergic rash.
Feminine Wash: Toxic ingredients: unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, methylchloroisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, dmdm Hydantoin, d&c red no.33, ext d&c violet #2, and fd&c yellow #5. Exposure concerns: endocrine disruption, allergic rash, and asthma.
Douche: Toxic ingredients: unknown fragrance chemicals and the spermicide octoxynol-9. Studies link douche use to bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical cancer, low-birth weight, preterm birth, HIV transmission, sexually transmitted diseases, ectopic pregnancy, chronic yeast infections, and infertility.
Feminine deodorant (sprays , powders and suppositories): Toxic ingredients: unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, and benzethonium chloride. Exposure concerns: reproductive harm, endocrine disruption and allergic rash.
Feminine anti-itch creams: Toxic ingredients: may include unknown fragrance chemicals, parabens, methylisothiazolinone and an active ingredient, benzocaine, a mild anesthetic. Exposure concerns: endocrine disruption, allergic rash, and unresolved itch.
Thankfully, safer options are available in organic cotton and innovations like the silicone menstrual cup. Natural creams, soaps, wipes and washes are also a possibility. But until the toxicity of feminine care products becomes common knowledge, women around the world will continue to be put at serious risk.
- www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Chem-Fatale-Report.pdf [PDF]