Cancer in a Bottle?

By: Joe Hamilton
By: Joe Hamilton

Do you know what are in the personal care products you’re using? In an in depth special investigation, we found that you probably don’t. Most of the products don’t list all of the ingredients they use, and some of these ingredients have been linked to cancer in animals.

When you look up and down the isle at your local supermarket, there are literally thousands of personal care products in which to choose from, but most of these products have a chemical called phthalates that is neither listed on the label nor visible to the naked eye. It is now a source of controversy around the globe about its safety.

Every day we care for our loved ones with the products that we have used and trusted for years, but a government loophole allows companies to hide some of the ingredients that we inhale and put on our skin. Their called phthalates, and they may be putting you in danger.

Phthalates have been used for years and are found virtually everywhere from lotions to perfume and from car seats to solvents. Phthalates are used to enhance a product’s fragrance and to soften certain plastics.

The debate over the use of phthalates first started a decade ago when the consumer product safety commission called on manufacturers to phase out the use of phthalates in baby teethers and certain medical devices after studies showed that these chemicals have been found to cause cancer and reproductive defects in laboratory animals.

A recent report by the center for disease control found phthalates in just about every person tested, predominately in women.

Charlotte Brody was one of nine people who had their body burden profiled to see just how many environmental chemicals and pthalathes remain in our bodies. She heads an environmental group in the U.S. that is now pushing to have phthalates banned, even though their effects on humans is still not known.

"We don’t demand testing on any products before they re put on products. Companies get to do what ever they want, said Charlotte Brody, Health Care Without Harm,” she says.

Brody recently tested 72 products and found 52 of them to have moderately high levels of phthalates, but the cosmetic industry sees the findings as nothing but hype, because they say phthalates are safe.

"We have tested Phthalates and they are safe, said Gerry McEwen, spokesman with the cosmetic industry.

But across the globe, the European union isn’t taking any chances. They are banning the use of phthalates in cosmetics because of their suspected links to cancer. And since manufacturers don’t list them on their products, it is impossible for consumers to avoid them.

It’s because a little known government loophole allows anything used in making a fragrance or considered a trade secret to be left off the label. Only nail polish is required to list phthalates as an ingredient.

"I want to see products have the word phthalates on the label so consumers can decide if they want to use them and I want our products to be as safe as Europe’s, Said Brody.

Something the cosmetic industry says already are.

“The cosmetics are safe. Consumers don't have to worry about Phthalates. We have tested them and they are safe,” said McEwen.

While scientists and the government debate the safety and use of phthalates, consumers will in the meantime have to decide for themselves if they’re in good hands with the products they use.

The FDA does regulate the amount of phthalates that can be used in food containers and in some medical devices, but they are waiting for further testing to be done before they consider removing them from cosmetics.

If you would like to see if you’re using a product that contains phthalates you can log onto www.nottopretty.org/goodbad.htm

If you would like to learn more about the debate over phthalates you can log onto www.noharm.org and www.ctfa.org


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