Perfumes and fragrances: A potential health hazard

Perfumes and fragrances: A potential health hazard
Updated 10 January 2013

Perfumes and fragrances: A potential health hazard

Perfumes and fragrances: A potential health hazard

A rose may be a rose, but that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely. It might well be concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer. Makers of popular perfumes, colognes and body sprays market their scents with terms like floral, exotic or musky, but they don’t disclose that many scents are actually a complex cocktail of natural essences and synthetic chemicals — often petrochemicals.
Products we put on our bodies should not contain chemicals that could damage our health. Over the last 20 years, fragrance contact allergy has become a major global health problem. Many scientists attribute this phenomenon to a steady increase in the use of fragrance in cosmetics and household products. Fragrance is now considered among the top five allergens in North America and European countries. Research confirms that many of the ingredients in fragrances are neurotoxins, meaning that they have poisonous effects on the brain and nervous system. Additional studies link other negative emotional, mental, and physical symptoms to various fragrance ingredients. Until recently, scientists believed that the brain was protected by an impermeable mechanism, known as the blood-brain barrier. This is only partly true. Recent studies show that this system allows many environmental toxins — including those found in perfumes and other scented products — access to the delicate brain. Once found in the brain, they can take decades to eliminate. Decades that can result in substantial damage in the form of inflammation and plaque build-up in the brain, two of the precursors to serious brain disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Some fragrance ingredients disrupt our natural hormonal balance, causing any number of possible emotional concerns. These include anxiety, mood swings, and depression. Feeling down? It could be the scent you’re wearing. Even if you can’t smell perfumes, you may be suffering ill effects from exposure.
Not all scented products are created equally. Commercial brands of perfumes and colognes primarily comprise synthetic chemicals. Even many natural products contain synthetic fragrance ingredients so it’s important to start reading labels on personal care products. If there’s no ingredient list, the manufacturer may have something to hide. Also, beware of “fragrance oils” masquerading as essential oils. The former is synthetic, while the latter are derived from flowers, leaves, and other natural substances.
There are over 500 potential chemicals that can be used under the single name “fragrance” found on the label of many products. These are not just perfumes and colognes. Fragrances are found in air fresheners, room deodorizers, cosmetics, fabric softeners, laundry detergents, candles, and more. Some of these chemicals cause irritability, mental vagueness, muscle pain, asthma, bloating, joint aches, sinus pain, fatigue, sore throat, eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, dizziness, swollen lymph nodes, spikes in blood pressure, coughing, and burning or itching skin irritations. Many of the scent chemicals used in fragrance formulations are unstable and tend to oxidize and break down when exposed to sunlight and air, during storage or when applied to human skin. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Acetaldehyde, a common ingredient in perfumes, is a probable human carcinogen. This means it may cause cancer in living tissue. In animal studies, it crosses the placenta to a fetus. The chemical industry’s own Toxic Data Safety Sheet lists headaches, tremors, convulsions, and even death as a possible effect of exposure to acetonitrile, another common fragrance ingredient. Bronchial spasms may be caused by perfume for those with asthma, according to groups like the American Lung Association and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Allergy sufferers can also develop other upper respiratory problems from exposure, a serious health risk. Hormonal reactions can occur from known and unknown chemicals in perfume. A study commissioned by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics revealed 12 hormone-disrupting chemicals in tested products. Some chemicals mimic the hormone estrogen (the female sex hormone) and others are associated with thyroid effects.
The National Cancer Institute finds lavender and tea tree oils, in particular, have effects similar to estrogen. They may also block or decrease the effect of androgens (male sex hormones). Long-term use is linked to breast enlargement in pre-pubescent boys. Cancer patients should consult a physician before using perfumes with ingredients that can cause interference with hormones.
Switching to products with natural-based ingredients and less synthetic additives may help.
“The way to the heart is through the nose,” says Haarmann & Reimer, a leading fragrance manufacturer. But we may want to think twice about giving a bottle of cologne or perfume to our loved ones.

— Muhammad Waqar Ashraf is professor of Environmental Chemistry at Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University.

Email: [email protected]


What We Are Eating Today: Pita Pack

What We Are Eating Today: Pita Pack
Updated 25 February 2021

What We Are Eating Today: Pita Pack

What We Are Eating Today: Pita Pack

Pita Pack is a Saudi sandwich shop with a diverse international menu. From traditional proteins to fresh salads, Pita Pack offers the experience of a quick bite that is both wholesome and familiar, which you can enjoy alone or with friends.

The recipes are inspired by a fusion of western culture and Arabian flavors.

The shop has a lively approach to naming its orders — deploying pop-culture puns, energetic language and casual vocabulary.

The sandwiches are made with fresh, light, medium-size pita buns, tortillas and brioche bread.

In addition to the more than 30 options on the menu, including vegan, seafood, beef and chicken, their tender American Philly cheesesteak sandwich is one of the best.

If you were thinking of offering your friends in the office or your family a brunch or dinner on the go, the shop offers "Pita box," a family-size option that includes an array of 20 different sandwiches of your choice.

Each order has its special sauce to complement the ingredients used. The restaurant also offers a selection of internationally inspired appetizers and salads.

It is located in Jeddah, Hilmi Kutbi Street, Al-Zahra district.

For more information visit Instagram @pitapackksa.
 


What We Are Buying Today: BEES

What We Are Buying Today: BEES
Photo/Supplied
Updated 20 February 2021

What We Are Buying Today: BEES

What We Are Buying Today: BEES
  • BEES offers a variety of raw honey products and types, including white clover, twohig, konak and manuka, in small and large jars

BEES is a Saudi brand that supports the production of local and imported honey, and aims to spread awareness about bees and healthy food.
The company works with beekeepers and food producers from around the world to bring the finest products to the Saudi market.
BEES offers a variety of raw honey products and types, including white clover, twohig, konak and manuka, in small and large jars.
Manuka honey is said to possess natural medicinal and antibacterial powers, and is ranked according to a “unique manuka factor,” which indicates its healing properties.
The company’s portable mini honey packets allow honey to be taken anywhere. The 5 gm packets are available in all honey types, and will help you start your day with a healthy dose of sweetness in your tea or hot drink.
For more information visit Instagram @bees.sa or check linktr.ee/BEES.SA


Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2021

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
  • “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before”

JEDDAH: The ketogenic diet has become one of the fastest-growing dietary trends, but experts have warned that many of its advocates are unaware of the dangerous side effects the diet can cause.

According to Healthline.com, the ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with low carb and Atkins diets. A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
However, the diet has led to severe side effects for some people.
“The keto diet should only be done under clinical supervision, and only for brief periods of time,” Dr. Ruwaida Idrees, a nutritionist, CEO and owner of Hayati Ghethaei, a catering company, told Arab News.
She added that the keto diet should only be considered in “extreme cases,” because it can do “more harm than good.”
Idrees said: “It can cause damage to the heart, since the heart is also a muscle.”
Consulting a doctor, completing necessary tests and discussing goals with a clinical dietitian should all be considered before starting a keto diet, she added.
Idrees said there are many misconceptions surrounding the keto diet and exercise, adding that exercise can still reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and other health conditions.
People need to be careful about the types of exercises they practice, she said. “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before.”
Fouz Ghannamil, a fitness trainer, told Arab News that the diet appeared to work for many people. “It is good, but my own opinion is that the human body needs more nutrition than just fat and a really small dose of carbohydrates.”
She added: “It has a high portion of proteins which is good, but the fat sources, no matter how good they are, are a bit too much. It is better in my opinion that the portion of fat and carbs is balanced.”
Ghannamil suggested a better alternative for people looking to shed pounds this year — sticking to a diet of “80 percent healthy food and 20 percent junk food.
“Because naturally, your mind will desire junk food that is not natural, however, it has loads of fat in and your body can use it as an energy source.”
She warned people considering a new diet to stick to a balanced nutrition pyramid that contains everything they need: Protein, carbohydrates and fat.
She added that people should avoid diets based solely on numbers rather than personal experience.
Idrees, on the other hand, proposed the Mediterranean diet as a simpler alternative to the keto diet, saying that it has a good balance of seafood and other sources of proteins, moderate portions of dairy and a limited intake of red meat.


What We Are Eating Today: Maui

What We Are Eating Today: Maui
Photo/Supplied
Updated 19 February 2021

What We Are Eating Today: Maui

What We Are Eating Today: Maui
  • Customers can also create their own poke bowls using their favorite ingredients, marinades, toppings, and sauces

A Hawaiian-concept restaurant is bringing the taste of the tropics to Saudi Arabia.
Based in Jeddah, Maui offers an array of classic dishes — with a Japanese and Mexican twist — from the Pacific US state including poke bowls, soups, salads, and juices.
The eatery, that accepts online orders only, has a mouthwatering menu consisting of sushi burritos or sushi wrap sandwiches using seaweed nori sheet instead of flatbread. They are available with five different fillings including fresh raw salmon or tuna, tempura shrimp or chicken, and vegan and vegetarian choices.
Customers can also create their own poke bowls using their favorite ingredients, marinades, toppings, and sauces.
Maui is available on delivery platforms @lugmety, @thechefz_, and @careemksa.


Startup of the Week: A Jeddah-based store offering eco-friendly alternatives

Startup of the Week: A Jeddah-based store  offering eco-friendly alternatives
Photo/Supplied
Updated 16 February 2021

Startup of the Week: A Jeddah-based store offering eco-friendly alternatives

Startup of the Week: A Jeddah-based store  offering eco-friendly alternatives
  • The startup is planning to add wooden utensils, bamboo straws and key charms made from coconut shells to its line of products

C.B. Jeddah is a store where you can find high-quality, handmade coconut and wooden bowls, which are ideal for all kinds of food, from ice cream to soups, salads and even hot curry. The Jeddah-based store ships orders all over the Kingdom.
Shaima Agil, a public administration student, inaugurated the store last month.
The idea came to her when she decided to adopt a more health-conscious lifestyle and went online to look for recipes. “I saw a picture of a smoothie in a coconut bowl, and I was fascinated by how beautiful it was! It was hard to get one here in Saudi Arabia, though, so I thought: Why don’t I buy these bowls myself and try to sell them here? I’ve been always interested in natural, environment-friendly products, so I bought many bowls and created an Instagram account to display them.”
The startup is planning to add wooden utensils, bamboo straws and key charms made from coconut shells to its line of products.
C.B. Jeddah imports its bowls from Indonesia, where coconut palms grow in abundance and where talented local artisans make the bowls by hand.
Agil explained that artisans first split the coconuts in half, drain them of water, carve out the flesh, then craft and polish them gently until they shine.
“Nature gives us everything we need, so let’s be nice and not harm it with industrial waste,” she said.
Environmental sustainability was at the heart of her startup.
“The huge amounts of coconuts used by companies to produce their different products result in much waste. Some countries burn them, which increases carbon and other harmful emissions. That is why reclaiming them and recycling them helps our planet.”
Customers can text C.B. Jeddah via direct messages on their Instagram account @c.b.jeddah.
“Our products are suitable for those who love nature, decorating and food photography. They also make great gifts,” said the founder.