The Sense of Smell and Its Transformative Power

Paul L. Hubbard

By Paul Hubbard
Guest Column

Of the five senses, the sense of smell is believed to have the most transformative power to make us remember things in the past such as Mama’s Apple Pie and what fragrances our past girlfriend or boyfriend put on.

There are almost 200 refences to perfumes and fragrances in the Bible; Jesús being gifted frankincense is the most Christmas familiar verse. However, the scents we smell also have consequential physiological power. According to a study published in Medical Hypotheses, many fragrance ingredients have been shown to disrupt healthy hormone balance. These compounds are called endocrine-disrupting chemicals because they mimic natural hormones and therefore dysregulate the body’s delicate endocrine system.

Janet Nudelman, of Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, says the body cannot distinguish between naturally occurring and synthetic hormones. Nudelman said EDC (endocrine disrupting chemicals) and synthetic fragrances can contribute to early puberty and increased breast cancer risk.

The Epoch Times notes that multiple studies have shown that EDCs such as Phthalate, a common ingredient of synthetic fragrances, impair fertility and are associated with an increased chance of breast cancer.

Natural fragrances are made with botanical ingredients found in nature, but synthetic fragrances are made of man-made chemicals. There is no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirement for labeling ingredients in fragrances. The African American and low-income communities experience a lot of synthetic fragrances being sold within them.

The impact of fragrances doesn’t just affect perfume enthusiasts and cologne connoisseurs. Fragrances affect most folks, considering that we implemented in most household cleaning and personal care products. Watch the type of candles we buy also. Our ancestors had all the natural scents with flowers and spices.

Paul L. Hubbard MSW, President of Comfort Adult Day Care Services.