In the modern age there are many toxic substances thrown into the environment, many of which are from the consumption of fossil fuels and plastics. Most people recognize that their environment can contribute to their chances of getting cancer, but most people don’t recognize that some of those toxic substances are in everyday cosmetics. Unfortunately, many cosmetics contain nasty chemicals that can increase your chances of cancer, or can lead to other health problems.
The FDA does not test all of the chemicals used in cosmetic products, so there is an opportunity for toxic chemicals to make it into cosmetic products that would not happen with food products or drugs.
This article will list a number of the chemicals that you need to avoid, so check the ingredients list on your cosmetic products and throw out any that have them. Some of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, others are known irritants and others can actually interfere with your production of hormones in the body.
Coal tar dyes are synthetic dyes that are created from coal tar, a fossil fuel. Sounds appealing right? Well these dyes are used in many cosmetic products and even in some foods. Coal tar dyes are definitely allergenic and have possible links to cancer. Many of the dyes can contain heavy metals which are very bad for your health.
Diethanolamine (DEA) is a wetting agent that is frequently used in shampoos, lotions and other cosmetics. It is often used to help create a lather in shampoos and shaving creams. By itself the chemical is harmless, but when it is mixed with other chemicals it can change to a carinogen called nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). This is when it gets serious, because NDEA can be absorbed through the skin and has been linked to liver cancer, bladder cancer and stomach cancer.
Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives that are often added to products to preserve fat. They prevent the oxidization of fats, giving products a longer shelf life. There is evidence that the human body cannot metabolize these chemicals well and the oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity.
Paraben is another chemical compound widely used by the cosmetic industry as a preservative in their products. Paraben can be found in everything from shampoo to personal lubricants, tanning sprays and toothpaste. The checmical has the ability to mimic estrogen when introduced into the human body, a hormone which plays a role in the development of breast cancer. Additionally, the chemical has been found inside breast cancer tumors.
Polyethylene Glycols (PEG compounds) are petroleum based products frequently used in cosmetics as softeners, thickeners, solvents or moisture-carriers. PEG compounds can carry ethylene oxide, which is a known carcinogen and hazardous to the environment. The chemical doesn’t biodegrade easily, so once it goes down the shower drain it can reside in waterways for many years.
Petrolatum is the commonly found petroleum jelly. It’s often used to keep moisture in the skin and can be found in hair products. The product can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which have been found to cause cancer after prolonged contact with human skin.
Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasing preservatives are also found in many cosmetic products, in particular baby shampoo and hair products. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and you should avoid exposure to it at all times.
Other chemicals that should be avoided due to their interference with hormones or cancer causing attributes are: Dibutyl phthalate, Siloxanes and Triclosan.
It pays to read the labels of your favourite cosmetics because they could be impacting your health, or in the worst case scenario, increasing your cancer risk. Of course, the safest way to buy cosmetics and avoid toxic chemicals is to use natural and organic products that are derived from plants.