Is Your Moisturizer Increasing Your Risk for Skin Cancer? A study has found that topical applications of moisturizers such as Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream, or Vanicream could increase skin cancer risk. Irradiated mice who were treated with the moisturizers exhibited a significant increase in their rate of tumor formation and increase in tumor size per mouse. Treatment of the mice with Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin, or Vanicream for 17 weeks increased the total number of histologically characterized tumors by 69 percent. According to the study, as reported by Green Med Info:"The results indicate that several commercially available moisturizing creams increase the rate of formation and number of tumors when applied topically to UVB-pretreated high-risk mice. Further studies are needed to determine the effects of topical applications of moisturizing creams ... in humans." This also applies to tanning oils and lotions—which many of you may be using right now with summer in full swing—as well as the baby oil or lotion that many parents unwittingly slather on their babies. Sources: Green Med Info The Journal of Investigative Dermatology February 2009: 129(2):468-75 Dr. Mercola's Comments: Many skin lotions, creams and oils contain mineral oil, as do many tanning products. Mineral oil may sound safe enough, but… it's not. Mineral oil is actually a derivative of petroleum, the same stuff you put in your car's engine. Because it's very viscous (slippery), many products use mineral oil as the main ingredient, as it allows the lotion to be spread easily across your skin. This despite the fact that it's a known carcinogen! It's also comedogenic, which means it blocks your pores and your skin's natural respiration process. Blocked pores can lead to blackheads and pimples. And, because mineral oil can create an impenetrable film on your skin, it may also block the absorption of any beneficial ingredients that might exist in the product. Moisturizing Creams with Mineral Oil Can be Tumorigenic. The featured study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found that commonly used moisturizing creams containing mineral oil are tumorigenic when applied topically to UVB-pretreated high-risk mice. What this means is that these creams and lotions can increase the rate at which skin tumors form. The study tested four common skin lotions:
Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream
What these creams have in common is that they all contain mineral oil. Mice that were at high risk of developing skin cancer received a topical application of 100 mg of one of the creams once a day, five days a week for 17 weeks. The researchers concluded that the rate of tumor formation significantly increased, as did the tumor size per mouse. In fact, the number of histologically characterized tumors increased by a whopping 69 percent!
According to the authors:
"The results indicate that several commercially available moisturizing creams increase the rate of formation and number of tumors when applied topically to UVB-pretreated high-risk mice. Further studies are needed to determine the effects of topical applications of moisturizing creams on sunlight-induced skin cancer in humans."
Watch Out for Tanning Oils Containing Mineral Oil!
In light of the potential tumorigenic effects effect of mineral oil on UVB-exposed skin, it stands to reason that this is NOT an ingredient you want in your suntan lotion or tanning oil. However, that's just what you'll find in many tanning products. Unfortunately, just because you don't see it on the label, it doesn't mean it's not in there. Mineral oil has countless different names, but each has the same effect... one you'll want to stay away from!
Alternate names include: Adepsine oil AlboleneDrakeol Lignite oilLiquid paraffin / paraffin oil Mineral seal oil Petrolatum White oilBaby oil
Mothers: Beware What You Put on Your and Your Baby's Skin. Many women who breast feed will apply cream to their breasts without too much consideration for what's in it. Hopefully, you now will not be one of them. Studies have actually found that mineral oil paraffins can bioaccumulate in both fat tissue and human breast milk. According to the authors of one 2008 study:
"Mineral paraffins might be the largest contaminant of our body, widely amounting to 1gram per person and reaching 10 grams in extreme cases."
It's believed that your baby may receive about one percent of the mineral paraffin accumulated in your body and breast milk. A previous study sums up the problem of using mineral oil-containing skin creams when you're breastfeeding:
"Beside exposure of babies via human milk, the intake by direct licking off salves (in the worst case consisting of Vaseline) from the breast of their nursing mothers may be much higher. In a worst case situation, daily intake from breast care products by babies is estimated to reach 40mg/kg bw.
Many compositions do not comply with the specifications and a temporary group ADI of 0-4mg/kg bw established by the SCF. This possible exposure of babies either calls for a toxicological re-evaluation of the mineral paraffins or for measures ensuring that exposure of babies is reduced."
The concern is a valid one, especially in light of the fact that mineral oil has been linked to no less than 23 different diseases and health problems, according to GreenMedInfo.com's excellent research database, including autoimmune diseases and a number of different cancers.
With that in mind, please avoid using creams and lotions that contain mineral oil (especially Vaseline) on your breasts while you're still breastfeeding. It would also be wise to avoid putting baby oil on your baby's skin, as most baby oil brands contain straight mineral oil!
You Can Absorb MORE Toxins from Skin Care Products than Food Remember, your skin is your largest organ -- and also the thinnest. Less than 1/10th of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Worse yet, your skin is highly permeable. Most items you rub on your skin will end up in your bloodstream, and will be distributed throughout your body. This is why I'm so fond of saying "don't put anything on your body that you wouldn't eat if you had to..." and a petrochemical is certainly not something you would eat!
Putting chemicals on your skin may actually be worse than eating them. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down and flush it out of your body. However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind, going directly to your delicate organs. And once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down. When you add up daily exposure over the course of a lifetime, it really adds up!
Safer Alternatives Most of the personal care products in supermarkets and even high-end department stores contain toxic ingredients that can harm your health—mineral oil is just one among thousands of harmful chemicals lurking in these products. You and your family deserve better, and there are other options. One of the easiest ways to ensure that you're not being exposed to potentially hazardous agents is to simply make your own personal care products, using simple all-natural ingredients that many of you may already have in your home.
Two great all-natural moisturizers are pure emu oil, and pure coconut oil. Both can be used for facial and body moisturizers and lotions. Coconut oil has been used to moisturize skin for ages, and is also a potent source of the beneficial fat lauric acid. You can also find many organic skin oils and lotions these days. Just be sure to read labels and check products out before buying them to make sure you're not being fooled by less-than-honest claims. EWG's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database is an excellent resource for finding and evaluating healthful personal care products. They also recently published their 2011 special report on sunscreens.
Finally, if you're perusing your local health food store for some safe, natural options, here are my top guidelines to keep in mind:
Look for the genuine USDA Organic Seal.
If you can't pronounce it, you probably don't want to put it on your body. Ask yourself, "Would I eat this?"
Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds -- even thousands -- of chemicals, and fragrances are a major cause of allergic reactions.
Pay attention to the order in which the ingredients are listed. Manufacturers are required to list ingredients in descending order by volume, meaning the first few ingredients are the most prominent. If calendula extract is the last ingredient in a long list, your calendula body wash isn't very natural.
Stick to the basics. Do you really need 20 products to prepare for your day? Simplify your life and rescue your bank account.
Buy products that come in glass bottles rather than plastic, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a serious concern; make sure any plastic container is BPA free.
Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly and green.
Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Mercola, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Mercola and his community. Dr. Mercola encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product. This content may be copied in full, with copyright, contact, creation and information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Dr. Mercola is required. Copyright Dr. Joseph Mercola, 2011. All Rights Reserved.