With the rising trend for natural, organic, fair trade and vegan beauty, many of us are clearing out our makeup bags to ensure our favourite cosmetics are kind on our skin - and good to the planet. But, if we're to take a 360 wellness approach to our wellness[/link], and work towards becoming the healthiest version of ourselves, we need be looking closer at what we're putting into our bodies, too.
A switch in our lifestyle habits couldn't come a moment too soon, according to worrying new research that's come to light in , which suggests that American children are undergoing puberty earlier than ever before.
The research explains that while it's difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons for the biological advances occurring in prepubescent children, our widespread exposure to synthetic chemicals could be behind the developing trend.
In a 2012 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American girls who had been exposed to high levels of common household chemicals were found to have their first periods seven months earlier than those with lower exposures.
"This study adds to the growing body of scientific research that exposure to environmental chemicals may be associated with early puberty," said CDC researcher and lead author on the study Danielle Buttke.
In the same year, a study was conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which found African-American boys were starting puberty at around age nine, while Caucasian and Hispanics were starting on average at age 10. In other words, American boys are reaching puberty six months to two years earlier than a few decades ago.
One possible answer could lie in rising levels of obesity. Researchers have identified that by building reserves of fat tissue and kickstarting their reproductive capacities, young people's bodies could be triggering puberty earlier on.
Another potential culprit for the onset of premature puberty could be "hormone disrupting" chemicals, such as Dichlorobenzene, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen, and Bisphenol A (BPA), a synthetic chemical in some plastics, which public health researchers believe "mimics" estrogen in the body.
The good news is that there are active steps we can take to reduce the "toxic burden" on our bodies, such as eating organic food, and cutting back on meat and dairy, which contain excess hormones and antibiotics, and reducing our use of household cleaning products. A bona fide excuse to skip weekend chores and head down to the farmer's market, if you ask us.