Breast cancer and impurities. EWG's assessment of product ingredient labels and data on cancer-causing chemicals identified three common impurities in personal care products that are linked to mammary tumors in animal studies — ethylene oxide, PAHs, and 1,3-butadiene.
The ingredients for which these impurities are of concern are used in one of every four personal care products on the market (Table 4).
Among girls born today, one in eight is expected to get breast cancer and one in 30 is expected to die from it (NCI 1996, 1997, 2000). A review by scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory shows that as many as one of every five chemical carcinogens causes mammary tumors in laboratory studies, indicating that the breast is more sensitive to carcinogens than almost any other tissue in the body (Gold et al. 1991). EWG's identification of three impurities linked to breast cancer does not represent a full accounting of possible mammary carcinogens in personal care products. Instead, it is a partial accounting based on the National Toxicology Program's assessment of mammary carcinogens (NTP 2000) and other sources in the peer-reviewed literature. Further study would likely identify additional ingredients in personal care products that raise concerns with respect to breast cancer.
PAHs. PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are common contaminants in petrolatum, also called petroleum jelly and sold under well-known brand names like Vaseline. Petrolatum is found in one of every 14 products on the market (7.1 percent of the products assessed by EWG), including 15 percent of all lipstick and 40 percent of al baby lotions and oils. FDA restricts petrolatum in food to no more than 10 parts per million, and requires petrolatum used in food packaging or drugs to meet impurity restrictions for PAHs (21 CFR 178, 21 CFR 172.880).
But the agency allows any amount of petrolatum of any purity in personal care products, many of which are applied directly to the lips and swallowed
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