cosmetics chemicals

The U.K.’s largest national health food retailer, Holland & Barrett recently announced they were banning certain beauty products known to contain toxic ingredients from sale in their 525 stores.

Commended by the Cancer Prevention Coalition, based in Chicago, Illinois, however the coalition also warns that many other products containing a wide range of other toxic ingredients remain on the shelves.

The ban originally announced on October 6, 2009, was a result of a yearlong study by Holland & Barrett and subsequent reformulation of all of their private label products. After working with suppliers they decided to reject certain well known brands from their stores.

Of particular concern to the company in this ban are a group of hormonal preservatives known as “parabens” and an unrelated harsh detergent known as “sodium lauryl sulphate”.

While they are the first to announce such a ban, they are not alone. In mid October, Morrisons, one of the nation’s leading supermarket chain with over 400 stores announced they would review concerns regarding the dangers of parabens.

Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition warns numerous published scientific studies over the past two decades have shown the parabens – methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl and benzyl pose toxic estrogen-like effects.

“Parabens readily penetrate the skin of immature female rodents, where they can pass directly into the blood and stimulate premature uterine growth” said Dr. Epstein in a recent press release. “Even at low concentrations parabens have also been shown to stimulate the growth of estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells in laboratory test” he added.

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Despite the warnings, evidence on the danger of parabens and sodium lauryl sulphate is still denied in the Cosmetic Ingredients Review’s annual U.S. Compendium. This document details the industry’s claim on the safety of about 1470 ingredients listed on the labels of cosmetic and personal care products including parabens and sodium lauryl sulfate.

A writer and photographer, Spowart has publication credits in Canada, United States, Europe and Norway with such publications as The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Sun Media, Canwest News, and Canada News Wire.

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