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They Make You Smell, Feel, and Look Good but Can Cosmetics Increase Your Risk of Cancer?

Chicago. October 22, 1996.

Chicago — Tough standards are essential for phasing out diethanolamine (DEA) from cosmetics and toiletries.

In a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released today, the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC) urged the labeling or phasing out of DEA in cosmetic products. DEA is a precursor of nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA), a proven carcinogen as recognized by four Federal agencies and institutions and the World Health Organization. The proposed label would read, "Caution - This product may contain N-nitrosodiethanolamine, a known cancer-causing agent."

DEA-based detergents are widely used in shampoos, lotions and creams. Since 1976, workers exposed to NDEA in metal working fluids, at levels similar to those in cosmetics, have been warned of cancer risks and steps are taken to protect them.

Aubrey Hampton, founder of Aubrey Organics, noted that DEA is not an essential ingredient in hair and skin care products. There are natural, safe and effective alternatives to DEA that pose no financial hardship for the manufacturer or the consumer"

In 1979, the FDA urged the cosmetics industry to take "immediate action to eliminate" NDEA in cosmetics. However, the FDA has taken no subsequent action while industry remains unresponsive. In striking contrast, the EEC has sharply reduced permissible uses of DEA. German cosmetic industry has also resolved this problem by phasing out DEA detergents, thereby preventing the formation of NDEA

Dr. William Lijinsky, leading international nitrosamine researcher, emphasized, "The continued use of DEA is unacceptable especially in view of the overwhelming scientific evidence of its cancer risks and the availability of safe alternatives."

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D., professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the University of Illinois School of Public Health and chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition said that, "Faced with escalating cancer rates, the FDA and other health agencies should take overdue action to reduce avoidable exposures to carcinogens. NDEA in cosmetics, used by many million consumers for many decades, is a prime example of such an avoidable carcinogen.


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