Tags: cosmetics | chemicals | health | problems | cancer

Beware of These 6 Dangerous Chemicals in Cosmetics

By    |   Wednesday, 06 May 2015 03:40 PM


Cosmetics and other beauty products are loaded with chemicals, many of which have been linked to numerous health problems, including cancer. A survey by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the average American uses nine products every day that contain 126 unique ingredients, and a quarter of women apply 15 or more products daily. That's a lot of chemicals that find their way into our bodies.

Most people don't think twice when using shampoo, toothpaste, body lotion, lip balm, cosmetics, and other health and beauty products we're likely to use. But they can — and do — contain dangerous ingredients that aren't overseen by the government. According to the EWG, 10,500 unique chemical ingredients are used in the manufacture of personal care products.

Some ingredients are suspected or known carcinogens, but regardless, the government doesn't require health studies or pre-market testing of personal care products. In fact, the FDA expects the cosmetics industry to regulate itself, and during the past 40-odd years has only rejected 11 ingredients as unsafe. In comparison. the European Union has banned hundreds of chemicals from being used in cosmetics.

Many studies show that the chemicals from these products migrate into our bodies. Some groups are more at risk than others. A study from the University of Rochester found that prenatal exposure to chemicals called phthalates could damage the reproductive organs of male babies. Other tests have found phthalates in human urine, parabens in breast tumors, and components of perfumes in human fat.

Teens girls could be especially at risk because they use more personal care products than adult women, using an average of 17 each day with a total of 174 ingredients compared to the average adult woman's usage of 12. Also, the large number of products containing damaging ingredients comes at a time when girls' bodies are developing rapidly, and reproductive, immune, blood, and other systems are maturing. Even more frightening, one study showed that 16 chemicals were found in their blood and urine that have been linked to hormone disruption and cancer.


According to the EWG, these chemicals should vanish from cosmetics:

• Phthalates. Phthalates are commonly used to soften plastic products, but they're also used in some fragrances. They've been linked to reduced testosterone and sperm quality in men and early puberty in girls as well as reproductive abnormalities in baby boys. Since they don't have to be disclosed as an ingredient, avoid them by buying unscented products.

• Parabens. Used as preservatives in some cosmetics, parabens are hormone disrupters that can act as estrogens in the human body. One Harvard study tied parabens to fertility problems in women. Avoid products containing them by watching for the ingredients propylparaben, isopropylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben.

• Lead acetate. Lead is a powerful neurotoxin that can cause memory problems and high blood pressure in adults. It's also a probable carcinogen, and some men's hair dyes, such as "Grecian Formula" contain a version of it called lead acetate. While the European Union and Canada have banned the ingredient, our FDA allows its use.

• Triclosan and triclocarbon.
These are chemicals used in toothpastes (triclosan) and liquid hand soaps (triclocarbon) to kill bacteria. But studies have shown they interfere with the thyroid as well as male and female hormones, and many manufacturers have begun reformulating their products without triclosan.

Labels that claim "antimicrobial protection" can contain triclosan, and other manufacturers may replace it with a similar chemical called triclocarban. A report by the FDA found that antibacterial soaps containing the two ingredients weren't any more effective than washing with nonantibacterial soap, but there was evidence they may pose health problems. Last May, the state of Minnesota banned triclosan from soap beginning in 2017.


• Retinyl palmitate and retinoic acid. Retinyl palmitate is used in many sunscreens, and retinoic acid is a common ingredient in anti-aging creams. Research has found that both chemicals are easily absorbed by the skin, and studies show that they spur the development of cancerous lesions of skin exposed to sun, putting people at increased risk of skin cancer.


• Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, which is considered a carcinogen, is used as a preservative in many cosmetics. One study found that almost a fifth of all cosmetic products contained a form of formaldehyde. It's also used in some hair straighteners, and according to the EWG, they may contain as much as 10 percent formaldehyde. Ingredients containing formaldehyde include DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15, and methylene glycol.

The EWG has asked that the federal government set safety standards for cosmetic and other personal care products. It has also asked for manufacturers to reformulate products to remove potentially harmful ingredients.


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Cosmetics and other beauty products are loaded with chemicals, many of which have been linked to numerous health problems, including cancer. A survey by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the average American uses nine products every day that contain 126...
cosmetics, chemicals, health, problems, cancer
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2015-40-06
Wednesday, 06 May 2015 03:40 PM
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