Cosmetics, Personal Care Products, Household Products, and Cancer
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
EWG's Skin Deep
Sunlight is the best cosmetic. See our Sunlight page for more information.
Pure coconut oil is the best natural skin lotion. Apply a small amount and reapply as often as necessary as it soaks into the skin.
In 1997 the #2 censored story was cancer caused by cosmetics and personal care products. - www.project
You can make your own perfumes using health-promoting essential oils.
Applying talcum to the body can increase a woman's chances of developing ovarian cancer. - American Journal of Epidemiology 145: 5 (MAR 1 1997): 459-465 (Use baking soda or corn starch instead)
As a vegetarian, you don't need to worry that food dyes contain some form of animal product. They are all synthetic chemicals. Their danger lies in their carcinogenic potential. They might also weaken our immune systems, speed up aging, and cause allergies and hyperactivity in children. There is no agreement from country to country which ones are safe. - www.drweil.com
There is some concern that colorings in bath products, if used regularly, can concentrate in the bladder, possibly raising the risk of bladder cancer. If you have been using bath products containing food colorings, there probably isn't any reason to be immediately alarmed, but I do recommend switching to naturally colored (or non-colored) alternatives. - www.drweil.com
Lovers looking for the perfect Valentine's gift should think twice before giving a bottle of toxic chemicals to their sweethearts. - EHN and Cancer Prevention Coalition
Your hairdresser is in an occupation with higher risk for cancer.
Hair dyes may be responsible for 20% of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in women. - Safe Shopper's Bible
Carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products include: sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), propylene glycol, diethanolamine (DEA), cocamide DEA, lauramide DEA, fluoride, alcohol, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), aluminum, butane, dioxin, fluorocarbons, formaldehyde, glycerin, kaolin, lanolin, mineral oil, petrolatum, propane, talc, and hundreds more.
More than 38,000 cosmetic injuries requiring medical attention are reported annually in the US. Ingredients in shampoos, toothpastes, skin creams, and other personal care products, fabric softeners, make-up, hair care products, colognes, perfumes and other scented products can be dangerous to your health.
"A cosmetic manufacturer may use any ingredient or raw material and market the final products without government approval." - FDA
Part of the problem is the legislation for cosmetics and fragrances which regards ingredients as "trade secrets" that do not need to be disclosed on the product label. The industry is expected to be self-regulating and to place a warning on its product labels if any of the ingredients are unsafe.
In 1989, the National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health recognized 884 poisonous substances (many synthetically derived from petrochemicals) from a list of 2,983 chemicals used in the fragrance industry capable of causing cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders, allergic respiratory reactions, skin and eye irritations. When was the last time you saw this mentioned on a bottle of perfume or shampoo?
In The Toledo Blade News, "Synthetic Musks Linked to Environmental Risks," March 24, 1999, scientists report: "Synthetic fragrances used in perfumes, soaps, ... fabric softeners, cosmetics and scores of other consumer products have become a new and unexpected group of environmental contaminants. The chemicals are accumulating in human fat tissue, blood, breast milk, drinking water supplies, lakes and streams, fish and wildlife, and elsewhere in the environment. There is reason for public concern about possible effects of these fragrances. One compound, musk xylene, has carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, effects in laboratory mice. Another, musk ketone, damages genes in animal experiments and has other worrisome effects. Dr. Gerhard G. Rimkus estimated that 8,000 tons of synthetic musk fragrances are produced annually. The compounds can be absorbed through the skin and tend to build up in fat tissue. They get into the environment in sewage and wastewater. Synthetic musk compounds are major chemical contaminants in many samples of water and fish."
Recent analysis of Calvin Klein's "Eternity Eau de Parfum" (Eternity) by an industry laboratory specializing in fragrance chemistry revealed 41 ingredients. These include some known to be toxic to the skin, respiratory tract, nervous, and reproductive systems, and others known to be carcinogens. The analysis was commissioned by the Environmental Health Network (EHN) after members complained of asthma, migraine, sensitization, or multiple chemical sensitivity when exposed to Eternity.
Nearly 72% of asthmatics have adverse reactions to perfume, and at least 35 million Americans are afflicted with allergic reactions and hypersensitivity diseases.
In 1966 the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) was formed to test fragrance materials for safety. Most of the tests conducted by the RIFM revolved around skin effects of the materials. Only about 1,300 of the more than 5,000 materials available for use in fragrances have been tested. The testing does not include respiratory, neurological, or systemic effects.
A 1991 study performed by the EPA found numerous chemicals commonly used in fragrance products cause when inhaled, "central nervous system disorders, dizziness, nausea, incoordination, slurred speech, drowsiness, irritation to the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, lungs and GI tract, kidney damage, headache, respiratory failure, ataxia, and fatigue, among other symptoms and illnesses." Material Safety Data Sheets on each chemical confirm these findings.
There has been some speculation that hair dyes can increase the risk of bladder cancer. That's because the chemicals in the dye are absorbed, and concentrate in the bladder....In general, I would stay away from chemical dyes. If you do plan to use them, make sure you don't leave the dye on your head any longer than necessary. Rinse your scalp thoroughly with water when you're done. Wear gloves during the whole process. Henna is a plant-derived dye, which is OK. And you can find other natural dyes in health-food stores -- I would stick with those. - www.drweil.com
However, deodorants containing anti-perspirants commonly cause inflammation of sweat glands and the formation of cysts under the arm. I would say this is reason enough not to use them. - www.drweil.com
Which part of your body causes the most infections and is most important to keep clean? Your fingernails! Very few bacteria live on your skin, but billions live in the warm, moist environment under your fingernails. And your finger tips frequently touch your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, transferring these bacteria into your body. Keep your nails short. Do not coat them, so that oxygen can penetrate the nail and kill bacteria.
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