Can Your Shampoo Cause Cancer?

Monday, 05 Mar 2012 04:15 PM

 

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Could your shampoo be increasing your risk of developing cancer? Or your moisturizer? Many personal care products you use daily pose a danger to your health. Ingredients that are banned in Europe for use in personal care products such as shampoos, deodorants, and body lotions, are sold to unsuspecting Americans every day. Several of these products are probably in your home right now.
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Some contain a cocktail of harmful ingredients, including DHA (diethanolamine), phthalates, formaldehyde, benxene, para-dioxane, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and petroleum. They have all been linked to many diseases, including cancers.

Personal care products aren’t regulated by the FDA for safety. According to the Environmental Working Group, only about 11 percent of the over 10,500 ingredients used in personal products have been tested for safety.

The following are some of the most frequent offenders:

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS is an ingredient used in commercial shampoos, but it's also used in engine degreasers. It can be stored throughout the body including in the eyes, brain, heart, and liver, and can even change genetic information in cells. It can react with other ingredients in shampoos and body cleansers to form carcinogenic nitrates and dioxins. With just one shampooing, large numbers of nitrates can be absorbed by the skin and enter the blood supply.

Propylene glycol. Propylene is a major ingredient in industrial antifreeze as well as brake and hydraulic fluid. In personal care products, it helps retain moisture. It’s used in toothpastes, deodorants, lotions and shampoos, and it can cause kidney and liver damage.

Para-dioxane. Para-dioxane, also known as 1,4-dioxane, is a probable carcinogen that is found in some children’s shampoos at levels above those deemed safe by the FDA. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics commissioned a study of baby-care products that found 1,4-dioxane in 67 percent of products tested. The Environmental Working Group estimates that more than 25 percent of all personal-care products contain the chemical. Personal care products containing para-dioxane have been banned in Europe.

Diethanolamine (DEA). DEA is found in hundreds of personal care products and is probably in your soap and shampoo. It causes cancer in rats when applied to the skin as well as damage to the liver, kidneys, and other organs.

Rules of thumb for avoiding harmful products:

• Don’t buy products that contain ingredients with long names. They are usually synthetic and haven’t been tested for safety.
• Don’t buy highly scented products. They contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which easily enter the bloodstream, killing brain cells and causing cancer. Avoid products listing “perfume,” “fragrance,” or “scent,” as ingredients.

Instead, choose products labeled “organic” or “all-natural” and products made with plant-based oils such as almond or jojoba.
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