Early Puberty in African American girls may be a breast cancer risk, stimulated by hair products containing hormones.

Early Puberty in African American girls may be a breast cancer risk,
stimulated by hair products containing hormones. 
Written by:  Willette Monk, aka GreenSistah
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to finding a cure for this leading cause of death in U.S. women ages 34 to 44. The rate of incidence among women has risen from 1 in 22 in the 1940s to 1 in 7 in 2004, and breast cancer is also on the rise in men. This is a month in which we can all become more aware of the many ways to focus on creating and maintaining healthy breast.  One such way, is to understand how the products you may be using on your body, may be exposing you and your family to possible carcinogenic chemicals.  Just as urgent, understanding how your young children may be at an even greater risk due to everyday exposure to hair products that may be fueling the onset of early puberty, a risk factor for breast cancer.    
 
One of the least talked about precursors to breast and other estrogenic cancers is early puberty in girls. Moreover, African American girls are entering puberty significantly earlier than Caucasian girls.  For girls, signs of puberty include; underarm and pubic hair, development of breasts, and the beginning of the menstrual cycle.  Here are some of the startling statistics concerning the disturbing differences in the onset of puberty in African American girls versus Caucasian girls. 
 
According to the 1997 Pediatrics study, these are some of the numbers for early puberty:
·        The average age of breast development in African-American girls is 8.9 years; for white girls, it's around 10 years.
·        The average age of pubic hair in African-American girls is 8.8 years; in white girls, it's around 10.5 years.
·        Breast and/or pubic hair development occurs, on average, in African-American girls at 8.1 years of age and in white girls at 9.7 years of age.
·        Approximately 27 percent of African-American girls who are 7 years old have either breast or pubic hair development; the comparable number for white girls is 7 percent. These girls are usually in second grade.
·        Approximately 50 percent of African-American girls between the ages of 8 and 9 have either breasts or pubic hair; the comparable number for white girls is 15 percent. These girls are usually in third grade.

At this point, all the answers to the surge in early puberty and the unsettling difference between black girls are not clear, however, researchers hair products marketed to African Americans that contain placenta, and other estrogen mimickers are a factor.  Other names for this ingredient include placental extract, placentagen, and it may even be hiding under the name collagen peptides
 
One of the most classic documented claims of this theory is a 1998 paper in the Journal of Clinical Pediatrics.  Dr. Chandra Tiwary, the former chief of pediatric endocrinology at Brook Army Medical Center in Texas, reported an outbreak of early breast and pubic hair development in four young African-American girls  aged 14 months to 93 months who used shampoos that contained estrogen and placental extract. Discontinuing the use of the hair products resulted in regression of the breast or pubic hair.  
 
Placental extract is derived from the placenta, an organ that develops in female mammals during pregnancy, lining the uterine wall and attached by the umbilical cord to provide nourishment and oxygen to the fetus.  The placenta produces estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones which raise potential health concerns in personal care products.   Science has proven that the skin and scalp absorb whatever you put on it. 
 
In PETA’s Caring Consumer guide, they explain how placenta contains waste products eliminated by the fetus.  Animal placenta, which is derived from the uterus of slaughtered animals, is widely used in skin creams, hair products, shampoos, masks, etc.  Using products with animal placenta brings up another horrific issue, and that is possible risk of infectious disease from cows with mad cow disease, or Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.   Manufacturers do not have to identify the source of the placenta used in the product, so you just expose yourself to whatever when you use these products. 
 
Many of these products are marketed to African Americans because of the need for more oil based, conditioning, and softening products, due the naturally curly and dry nature of Black hair.  Also many of these products promise to repair damage done by chemical relaxers, heat, and color products, which also contain questionable ingredients. 
 
This report is so disturbing when it comes to the young girls and teens because exposing them to these products at a young age, means they will be exposed over longer periods of their lifetime, increasing their chances of breast cancer as well as other estrogenic cancers.  In an article written by Sena Christian in the Reno New and Review, in September 2008, she wrote, Across the board, African-American women have lower rates of breast cancer than white women, with the exception of women under 40 years old. Many breast cancer activists suggest this may have something to do with the frequent use of placenta-infused hair products by the younger demographic.”
 
What can you do to protect yourself and your daughter?  Choosing healthy cosmetics, hair, and skin products is a great place to start.  The Environmental Working Groups Cosmetic  Safety database http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/browse.php?containing=704919&&showmore=products&start=0
lists some of the  products that contain this questionable ingredient.  However, please read labels of all products you intend to use in your hair and skin as this is not a complete
 
The following is a list of specific products used by African Americans that previously contained placenta. If you are using these products or considering them, you may want to read the labels carefully as the ingredient list may have been updated.  
1. Placenta Shampoo
2. Queen Helene Placenta cream hair conditioner
3. Placenta revitalizing shampoo
4. Perm Repair with placenta
5. Proline Perm Repair with placenta
6. Hormone hair food Jojoba oil
7. Triple action super grow
8. Supreme Vita-Gro
9. Luster's Sur Glo Hormone
10. B & B Super Gro 
11. Lekair natural Super Glo 
12. Lekair Hormone hair trea tment with Vitamin E 
13. Isoplus Hormone hair treatment wit Quinine 
14. Fermodyl with Placenta hair conditioner 
15. Supreme Vita-Gro with allantoin and estrogen plus TEA-COCO 
16. Hask Placenta Hair conditioner 
17. Nu Skin body smoother 
18. Nu Skin Enhancer
19. Lustrasilk, Placenta and Jojoba Cholesterol
 
Sources:
Little Girl Gone:  Early Onset of Puberty, by Jennie Larson
Reno News and Review, September 2008
Ewg.org
Peta.org
Longhaircareforum.com
 
 A GreenSistah™ publication  ©2009 all rights reserved
Green Sistah is a movement to empower and educate as many beings as possible to transform the quality of their lives and health by eliminating toxic exposure from their daily lives. Willette Monk (aka)  GreenSistah™ is an advocate for change in policy, habits, to protect human and planet health. You may contact the author at:
greensistah@gmail.com

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