Organic Consumers Association


Previous Page

Click here to print this page

Make a Donation!


OCA & Cancer Prevention Coalition Warn of Hidden Carcinogens in Baby Care

Time to Protect Babies From Dangerous Products

CHICAGO, Feb. 28 (AScribe Newswire) -- From shortly after
birth, mothers tenderly wash and pamper their infants with a
wide range of baby products. These include soaps, shampoos,
lotions, and dusting powders, some of which are used several
times daily.

However, how would mothers react if they discovered that
these baby products contain a witch's brew of dangerous
ingredients? Hopping mad could be a reasonable

Most disturbing are three groups of widely used
ingredients known as "hidden carcinogens" -- ingredients
which are contaminated by carcinogens, or which break down
to release carcinogens, or which are precursors of
carcinogens -- to which infants are about 100 times more
sensitive than adults.

- The largest group of hidden carcinogens includes dozens
of wetting agents or detergents, particularly PEGs,
Laureths, and Ceteareths, all of which are contaminated with
the potent and volatile carcinogens ethylene oxide and
dioxane. These carcinogens could readily be stripped off
during ingredient manufacture, if the industry just made the
effort to do so. Another hidden carcinogenic ingredient is
lanolin, derived from sheep's wool, most samples of which
are contaminated with DDT-like pesticides.

- The second group includes another detergent,
Triethanolamine (TEA) which, following interaction with
nitrite, is a precursor of a highly potent nitrosamine

- The third group includes Quaterniums and Diazolidinyl urea
preservatives which break down in the product or skin to
release the carcinogenic formaldehyde.

Of additional concern is another group of common
preservatives, known as Parabens. Numerous studies over the
last decade have shown that these are weakly estrogenic.
They produce abnormal hormonal effects following application
to the skin of infant rodents, particularly male, resulting
in decreased testosterone levels, and urogenital
abnormalities. Parabens have also been found to accumulate
in the breasts of women with breast cancer.

The common use of Talc dusting powder can result in its
inhalation, resulting in acute or chronic lung irritation
and disease (talcosis), and even death. Additionally, Talc
is a suspect cause of lung cancer, based on rodent tests.

Fragrances, containing numerous ingredients, are commonly
used in baby products for the mother's benefit. However,
over 25 of these ingredients are known to cause allergic

A final ingredient of particular concern is the harshly
irritant sodium lauryl sulfate. A single application to
adult human skin has been shown to damage its microscopic
structure, increasing the penetration of carcinogenic and
other toxic ingredients.

Most disturbing is the ready availability of safe
alternatives for all these dangerous ingredients
(longstanding information on which is detailed on the Cancer
Prevention Coalition website,
So, why is it that the multibillion-dollar cosmetic and
toiletry industry has not acted on this information? The
answer is that the major priority of the industry's trade
association is "to protect the freedom of the industry to
compete in a fair market place." At the same time, the
association pursues a highly aggressive agenda against what
it claims are "unreasonable or unnecessary labeling or
warning requirements." As Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D.MA)
stated at 1997 Hearings on the FDA Reform bill: "The
cosmetics industry has borrowed a page from the playbook of
the tobacco industry by putting profits ahead of public

Astoundingly, the interests of industry remain reinforced
by the regulatory abdication of the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), in spite of its authority under the
1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics (FD&C) Act. Clearly,
the FDA is the lap dog, rather than the watchdog, of the

Of even greater concern is the reckless failure of the
federal National Cancer Institute and the "non-profit"
American Cancer Society to inform the public of the
avoidable risks of cancer from the use of baby products,
especially in view of the escalating incidence of childhood
cancers over recent decades. However, the silence of the
American Cancer Society is consistent with its over $100,000
annual funding from about a dozen major cosmetic and
toiletry industries.

The protracted failure of Congress to enforce FDA's
compliance with the FD&C Act has evoked the growing concern
of State legislatures. Assemblywoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey
Park) of the California Senate Health Committee, recently
introduced landmark legislation that requires disclosure of
all carcinogenic, hormonal, and otherwise toxic ingredients
in cosmetics. Strongly backed by a coalition of consumer,
womens, occupational, and church groups, but opposed by
powerful mainstream industry interests, the Bill failed to
pass. However, this shot over the bows of the reckless
mainstream industry marks the beginning of nationwide State
initiatives to protect consumers and their babies from
undisclosed dangerous products and ingredients. Safe
alternative products and ingredients, including organic, are
becoming increasingly available from non-mainstream


- Samuel S. Epstein, MD, Professor emeritus Environmental &
Occupational Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago
School of Public Health, Chairman, Cancer Prevention
Coalition, and Recipient of the 2005 Albert Schweitzer
Golden Grand Medal for Humanitarianism, 2121 West Taylor
Street MC 922, Chicago IL 60612; phone 312-996-2297; fax
312-413-9898; e-mail; Web

-- Ronnie Cummins, National Director, Organic Consumers
Association, 6101 Cliff Estate Road, Little Marais, MN
55614; phone 218-226-4164; e-mail; Web


Media Contact: Samuel S. Epstein, MD, 312-413-9898,
Ronnie Cummins, 218-226-4164,