Carcinogens

This year over 563,000 Americans are expected to die of cancer.

That’s more than 1,500 people per day.      

In fact, more people have died from cancer in one year than the total number of American soldiers who have died in combat over the last 100 years.

Nearly 5 million lives have been lost to cancer since 1990.

Personal Care and Cosmetic Products May be Carcinogenic

Do you use toothpaste, shampoo, sunscreen, body lotion, body talc, makeup, hair dye? These are among the personal care products the American consumer has been led to believe are safe but that are often contaminated with carcinogenic byproducts, or that contain substances that regularly react to form potent carcinogens during storage and use.

Consumers regularly assume that these products are not harmful because they believe that they are approved for safety by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But although the FDA classifies cosmetics (dividing them into 13 categories), it does not regulate them. An FDA document posted on the agency’s World Wide Web home page explains that “a cosmetic manufacturer may use any ingredient or raw material and market the final product without government approval.” (This is with exception of seven known toxins, such as hexachlorophene, mercury compounds, and chloroform). Should the FDA deem a product a danger to public health, it has the power to pull a cosmetic product from the shelves, but in many of these cases the FDA has failed to do so, while evidence mounts that some of the most common cosmetic ingredients may double as deadly carcinogens.

Examples of products with potential carcinogens are:  Clairol “Nice and Easy” hair color, which release carcinogenic formaldehyde as well as Cocamide DEA (a substance which can be contaminated with carcinogenic nitrosamines or react to produce a nitrosamine during storage or use); Vidal Sassoon shampoo (which like the hair dye, contains Cocamide DEA); Cover Girl makeup contains TEA (which is also associated with carcinogenic nitrosamines); Crest toothpaste which contains titanium dioxide, saccharin, and FD&C Blue#1 (known carcinogens).

One of the cosmetic toxins that consumer advocates are most concerned about are nitrosamines, which contaminate a wide variety of cosmetic products. In the 1970s nitrosamine contamination of cooked bacon and other nitrite-treated meats became a public health issue, and the food industry, which is more strictly regulated than the cosmetic industry, has since drastically lowered the amount of nitrosamines found in these processed meats. But today nitrosamines contaminate cosmetics at significantly higher levels than were once contained in bacon.

The FDA has long known that nitrosamines in cosmetics pose a risk to public health. On April 10, 1979, FDA commissioner Donald Kennedy called on the cosmetic industry to “take immediate measures to eliminate, to the extent possible, NDELA (a potent nitrosamine) and any other N-nitrosamine from cosmetic products.” Since that warning however, cosmetic manufacturers have done little to remove N-nitrosamine from their products, and the FDA has done even less to monitor them.

Individual FDA scientists are speaking out. The FDA’s Donald Harvey and Hardy Chou proclaimed that the continued use of these ingredients contradict what should be a social goal: keeping “human exposure to N-nitrosamines to the lowest level technologically feasible, by reducing levels in all personal care products.”

Student Researchers: Robin Stovall, Garvin Grundmann, and Erika Well

Faculty Evaluator: Debora Hammond, Ph.D.

An awareness of the ingredients in the products

you use every day is essential

for the safety of your family!!