12 Hidden Cancer Chemicals in Your Shampoo

So-called safe ingredients may release carcinogens

12 hidden cancer chemicals in your shampoo

12 hidden cancer chemicals in your shampoo

A preliminary HealthyLivinG Foundation investigation has found that toxic ingredients watchdog groups once thought were no longer being used in the most popular shampoo brands are returning big time with new disguises. Brands such as Pantene and Dove contain these ingredients.




Cancer Criminals Identified

Here’s the inside story.

A few years ago, bubble baths and shampoo products listed ingredients such as diethanolamine (DEA), triethanolamine (TEA) and cocamide-DEA on their labels. These ingredients were used as emulsifiers or foaming agents and found at levels of 1-5% of a product’s formulation. Often they were found attached to other ingredients such as TEA-PEG 3 cocamide sulfate or completely disguised as with cocamide-MEA.

In 1998 the federally funded National Toxicology Program found DEA to be carcinogenic. Both cocamide-DEA and DEA belatedly made their way onto the list of prohibited chemicals in California under the 1986 Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. With the sixth largest economy in the world, companies began removing these chemicals. But now they’ve begun adding them back under other names.

Products do not list cocamide DEA or DEA on their labels but they are instead using ingredients that contain these cancer-causing impurities and not revealing this information to shoppers.

In a December 9, 1999, the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Office of Cosmetics issued a Fact Sheet that noted the 1998 NTP study found an association between the topical application of DEA and certain DEA-related ingredients and cancer in laboratory animals. For the DEA-related ingredients, the NTP study suggests that the carcinogenic response is linked to possible residual levels of DEA. The NTP study did not establish a link between DEA and the risk of cancer in humans. Still, the Fact Sheet went on to note, “FDA takes the results of the NTP study very seriously and has made the assessment of public health risk one of the highest priorities for the cosmetics program.”

However, consumers wishing to avoid cosmetics containing DEA or DEA-related ingredients may do so by reviewing the ingredient statement that is required to appear on the outer container label of cosmetics offered for retail sale to consumers.

The following are some of the most commonly used ingredients that may contain DEA and brands that list these ingredients:

1. Cocamide DEA (Shapiro MD Shampoo) REFERENCE

2. Cocamide MEA (Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care With Almond Oil 2-in-1 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo and Conditioner; TRESemmé Shampoo, Moisture Rich Shampoo)

3. DEA-Cetyl Phosphate

4. DEA Oleth-3 Phosphate

5. Lauramide DEA

6. Linoleamide MEA

7. Myristamide DEA

8. Oleamide DEA

9. Stearamide MEA

10. TEA-Lauryl Sulfate

11. Triethanolamine

12. TEA-dodecylbenzene sulfonate (Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Hydrating Shampoo, 25.4 FL OZ; Dove Men+Care Shampoo)

REFERENCESAnonymous. “Carcinogenicity attributed to FREE DEA in NTP dermal studies.” CFTA/TRN, 1998; 12(1): 1-2.
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