Tampons and Asbestos - Fact or Fiction?
There is an email doing the rounds of the internet which starts like this -
'For your information, please read and forward on. If you are a woman and use pads, but especially if you use tampons, read this and pass it on to your friends. For the men receiving this email, please forward it to your friends, significant others, sisters, mothers, daughters, etc. Thanks!
Check the labels of the sanitary pads or tampons that you are going to buy the next time and see whether you spot any of the familiar signs stated in this email. No wonder so many women in the world suffer from cervical cancer and womb tumors.
Have you heard that tampon makers include asbestos in tampons? Why would they do this? Because asbestos makes you bleed more, if you bleed more, you're going to need to use more. Why isn't this against the law since asbestos is so dangerous? Because the powers that be, in all their wisdom (not), did not consider tampons as being ingested and, therefore, did not consider them illegal or dangerous?. etc'
If you receive this email - STOP - before you pass it on.
The first time I received the email myself - I could hardly believe that it was true - it seemed outrageous. Doing some research on the net I did discover the truth behind the claims.
The main claims in this email are:
1. There is asbestos added to Tampons so you will bleed more.
2. There are dangerous levels of dioxins in tampons
3. The use of rayon in tampons increases the danger of TSS
Presence of Asbestos in Tampons - FALSE
According to the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) 'In the last six months, unfounded rumors on the Internet have suggested that U.S. tampon manufacturers add asbestos to their products to promote excessive menstrual bleeding in order to sell more tampons. FDA has no evidence of asbestos in tampons or any reports regarding increased menstrual bleeding following tampon use.
Before any tampon is marketed in the U.S., FDA reviews its design and materials. Asbestos is not an ingredient in any U.S. brand of tampon, nor is it associated with the fibers used in making tampons. Moreover, tampon manufacturing sites are subject to inspection by FDA to assure that good manufacturing practices are being followed. Therefore, these inspections would likely identify any procedures that would expose tampons products to asbestos. If any tampon product was contaminated with asbestos, it would be as a result of tampering, which is a crime. Thus far, FDA has received no reports of tampering. Anyone having knowledge of tampon tampering is urged to notify FDA or a law enforcement officer.'
Harmful Levels of Dioxins in Tampons - FALSE
According to the FDA, in the past the bleaching methods used on the Rayon in tampons did produce a potential source of Dioxins in tampons, but those methods are no longer used. Any dioxins found in tampons are more likely due to the dioxins present in our air, water and ground due to past pollutants. It is important to remember that these dioxin levels are negligible and that dioxins turn up in a lot of goods we consume regularly e.g. milk cartons, fish, meat and diary products.
Use of Rayon in Tampons increases risk of TSS - FALSE
Rayon is made from cellulose fibres derived from wood pulp. Most tampons in the US are made from a combination of cotton and rayon - the rayon adds super absorbency to the tampon.
The FDA states 'Research conducted by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suggested that use of some high absorbency tampons increased the risk of TSS in menstruating women. A few specific tampon designs and high absorbency tampon materials were also found to have some association with increased risk of TSS. These products and materials are no longer used in tampons sold in the U.S. Tampons made with rayon do not appear to have a higher risk of TSS than cotton tampons of similar absorbency.'
Choosing to use organic 100% cotton tampons instead of normal tampons may be a healthier choice for some. Cotton farming is notoriously chemically dependant so going organic will reduce the amount of chemicals and pesticides you are exposed to. But it may not necessarily reduce your risk of TSS.
More on TSS
The main cause of TSS is a common bacterium, Staphylococcus Aureus. It is thought the bacterium produces toxins (poisons) which cause the symptoms of TSS. Tampons may facilitate the infection because their use may cause lacerations and ulcerations of the vaginal wall. These lacerations allow bacteria to enter into the vaginal wall. Super absorbent tampons are especially dangerous, because as in some cases they expand so much they actually stick to the vaginal wall. When the tampon is removed, a layer of the vaginal lining may be scraped or peeled off.
The only ways to reduce your risk of TSS is:
- Avoid super absorbent tampons - choose the lowest absorbency rate to cope with your flow.
- Alternate the use of tampons with sanitary napkins or mini-pads during your period.
- Never leave a tampon inserted overnight.
- Change tampons frequently, at least every 4-6 hours.
- When inserting a tampon, be extremely careful not to scratch the vaginal lining. Plastic applicators may cause an increased risk because of the sharp edges produced when opening the applicator. If your vagina seems dry, use a water-soluble lubricating jelly to ease insertion.
- Do not use a tampon between periods because it may dry out the vagina.
The only way to avoid vaginal TSS completely is to avoid tampons completely.
What does it all Mean?
The only good thing I can see about this email hoax is that it may help women to become more aware of how their choice of menstrual product choices affects their overall health.
There are many different menstrual products on the market including:
- disposable pads and tampons,
- disposable organic pads and tampons,
- reusable washable cloth pads and
- reusable menstrual cups.
Every woman needs to make an informed choice as to what product best suits her and her lifestyle.
So if that email about asbestos and tampons arrives in your inbox - think twice before sending it on.
If you would like more information go to the following web sites
http://www.snopes.com/toxins/tampon.htm#add - contains full version of hoax email.
http://www.menstruation.com.au/periodpages/asbestosandtampons.html - contains full version of hoax email.
http://www.menstruation.com.au/periodpages/tss.html - information on Toxic Shock Syndrome
Written by Nadia MacLeod