In today’s world, it’s easy to be slip into thinking that anything and everything is contributing to our demise – including our beauty products. Founder of Content, Imelda Burke, shares her views on the ingredients in beauty products and their links to cancer.
Carcinogens in your Beauty Products
‘Over the years brands, many of them natural, have used the fear over ‘cancer-causing’ ingredients to motivate a consumer to purchase a product containing ingredients deemed ‘better’. I consider using the term ‘cancer’ when trying to sell products the lowest form of sales speak. Natural products deserve far better than using fear to sell them – they can stand on their own two feet.
If you use the EWG Cosmetic Database you will be aware of which ingredients have studies showing a carcinogenic effect on the body and we are still yet to discover the effects of long term use of some ingredients. But even with that, you and I both know that cancer is a complicated affair and as in life, what may affect one person does not always affect another.
What I am interested in, is trying to avoid some of the manufactured chemicals where I can. While I can’t avoid pollution, I can question the food that I eat, the cleaning products and household chemicals, the dyes that our clothes are coloured with and the unnecessary ingredients in our skincare. If you are interested in limiting your chemical load you can download a list of Preventable Exposures Associated With Human Cancers, as published by the Oxford University Press.
What does appear on the World Health Organization Group 1 ‘Carcinogenic to Humans’ list, that relates to beauty products and the industry are: formaldehyde, ethylene oxide, untreated or mildly treated mineral oils, ultraviolet-emitting tanning devices and solar radiation. Agents from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IRAC) have also classified talc-based body powder (perineal use) as ‘probably carcinogenic or possibly carcinogenic to humans and associated cancer sites’.
Colours that are banned due to concerns over being carcinogenic are: D&C Orange No. 17, D&C Red No. 8, D&C Red No. 9 and D&C Red No. 19. Also avoid carbon black (D & C Black No. 2, acetylene black, channel black), sometimes, although hopefully rarely, found in cosmetics such as eyeliners and brow products. While California’s Environmental Protection Agency Proposition 65 List (chemicals known to the State to cause cancer) identifies cocamide diethanolamine (DEA) as an ingredient to avoid. And if you use loose mineral powders apply a small amount at a time to avoid airborne particles being inhaled – keep your mouth shut!
The World Health Organization lists tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity as the major cancer risk factors worldwide and these are also the four shared risk factors for other noncommunicable diseases. Read more about prevention and early diagnosis.