Focus on Health…
- Scientists find that restrictive bras suppress the lymphatic system—needed to flush toxins from your breasts and lymph nodes and to help prevent breast cancer;
- Despite wide appeal of synthetic athletic apparel, medical studies show that synthetic fibers cause muscle fatigue— which can make the difference between winning and losing for competitive athletes;
- A study of 24–27-year-old-males, showed that natural linen long sleeved shirts were worn for five hours—and then polyester ones were worn for another five hours. Their arms were monitored during both with electrodes measuring skin temperature and velocity of the men's muscle tissue. No changes were measurable when they wore linen. However, when they donned polyester they endured a range of muscle disruptions.
- While individual chemicals might not endanger your health, the synergistic effect of multiple chemicals (a “toxic soup”) interacting can have unpredictable negative health effects;
- Choose natural fibers. While not always as easy to find, its best to do so when possible:
Cotton — preferably organic still remains the “king” of textiles. Organic accounts for less than one percent of worldwide production;
Flax — one of nature’s strongest fibers;
Hemp — grows without any need for fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides because it’s naturally insect-resistant. Its fibers are reported to be four times stronger than cotton. This is NOT the hemp known for its mind-altering properties;
Silk — known as the “queen of fabrics.” Watch out for the use of synthetic dyes in this fiber.
Wool — most of today’s wool is contaminated with chemicals, i.e., pesticides used to kill parasites. But organic wool is becoming more common.
Other — alpaca, angora, camel, cashmere, mohair, ramie, aluyot.
You Need to Know…
The Organic Trade Association estimates that one non-organic cotton T-shirt uses one-third pound of pesticides and fertilizers. Cotton production uses one-fourth of the entire world’s fertilizers. It’s another good reason to choose organic cotton to add to the ones above.
Don’t get over-whelmed, start small. Choose organic for clothing closet to your skin most of the time—underwear, sleepwear, camisoles, sheets/pillow cases, etc. Build on your organic wardrobe as you replace items.
Are You Getting a Charge? Electrostatic charges accumulate in synthetic clothing. There are reported incidents of shocking mini-explosions from mixing layers of synthetic clothing with synthetic carpeting. And get this…synthetic undergarments contribute to infertility in men.
A 24-month study of male dogs wearing either loose-fitting polyester underpants or loose-fitting cotton ones showed that wearing polyester created significant decreases in sperm count and degeneration of the testes. The animals wearing cotton suffered no side effects. (And, please, no emails to the editor about dogs wearing underwear. I agree, it sounds silly but no humans would volunteer!)
Scientists hypothesize that polyester traps body heat, encourages chemical absorption, and creates electrostatic buildup… which all affect sperm count.
I'm mindful of the problems with synthetic fibers and dyes because (cancer concerns aside) I'm sensitive to a wide range of chemicals as are most of my patients.
A few years ago I bought a beautiful set of sheets from an upscale store. The label said they were 100 percent cotton, but after sleeping in them a few nights I experienced all my old fibromyalgia pains that had long ago resolved (unless I eat foods in the nightshade genre or consume MSG) and I was now again experiencing bone and muscle pain from head to toe. Repeated washings didn't get out whatever the offending substance was—it never does.
I got a terrible reaction from the dyes or maybe the chemicals used to make those all-cotton sheets "no-iron." You can only imagine what true synthetic cloth can do to us; after all, it's largely a product of the oil industry. After I switched to a high-quality set of organic sheets, all my symptoms were resolved.
We have the illusion that clothes made from synthetic fibers are safe, but the materials are in fact full of invisible chemicals the clothing industry prefers we donft think about.
A hundred years ago, clothing was made of natural fibers like cotton, flax, wool, and silk—synthetics weren't developed until the early 1900s.
Although rayon was introduced in 1924, the first truly synthetic fiber was nylon, made by DuPont from the petro-molecule toluene. Nylon was first used because it was a popular material for women's stockings and later panty hose.Other synthetics followed:
- Acrylic (1950), aka, "wash-and-wear fabrics"—a "revolutionary time-saving leap" for homemakers.
- Polyester (1953), "wrinkle free" fabrics developed from xylene and ethylene.
- Spandex and olefin (1959), which became the mainstay of sportswear, swim suits, and thermal underwear. Olefin is produced by "cracking" petroleum molecules into propylene and ethylene gases.
The Way I See It
Don't wait until you or a loved one has a health issue before changing the products you purchase. Yes, organic cotton does cost a bit more...but then...isn't it more cost effective to stay healthy than to get well?
I'm especially concerned about pregnant woman and their newborn children, make the decision as parents and grandparents to create a safe nontoxic nursery beginning with non-toxic no VOC paint to hard surface flooring, the crib and bedding and the clothing used for a newborn whose immune system is not fully developed to provide maximum protection, naturally. Resources:
- www.cancerdefeated.com Clement, Anna Maria, and Clement, Brian, Killer Clothes: How Seemingly Innocent Clothing Choices Endanger Your Health . . . And How to Protect Yourself! Hippocrates Publications, 2011. p. 75.
- http://www.cool-organic-clothing.com/organic-clothes.html Much of the information in this article was taken from the book Killer Clothes, by the Clements.