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7 cosmetic ingredients that can cause cancer

Even though they can enhance your appearance and make you feel confident, there are cosmetics (especially illegal ones) that contain chemicals that can trigger cancer. What are the harmful ingredients in cosmetics that can cause cancer?

7 cosmetic ingredients that can cause cancer

Cosmetic Ingredients that are at Risk of Causing Cancer

Be careful when choosing cosmetics, be it skincare, makeup or perfume products. The reason is, some of the ingredients in it are known to cause cancer.

These products carry the risk of storing carcinogens, toxic substances associated with the incidence of cancer.

Here are the various contents cosmetics that can cause cancer, including:

1. Mercury

Mercury is a cosmetic ingredient that is often used in skin lightening products. Its ability to inhibit melanin makes this material widely used in several cosmetic products.

According to information obtained from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), high exposure to mercury can increase the number of tumors in mice.

Even so, the link between mercury and cancer is still limited to animal studies. Regarding its effects on humans, the EPA stated that mercury does not cause cancer.

2. Parabens

One of the cosmetic ingredients that can cause other cancers is parabens. The function of using this chemical is as a preservative.

Parabens are thought to act as the hormone estrogen, a trigger for breast cancer. Therefore, products containing parabens are considered to increase the risk of developing this type of cancer.

Even so, there is no real evidence in humans. So far, the link between the two has only been discovered through animal studies.

Also Read: 8 Common to Rare Types of Breast Cancer

3. Arsenic

Another cosmetic ingredient that is carcinogenic, aka a cancer trigger, is arsenic. According to the EPA, there is a lot of strong evidence that points to this.

The content of arsenic in cosmetics can cause hyperpigmentation, keratosis, and trigger blood vessel complications.

In addition, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states that exposure to this ingredient can cause lung and lymphatic cancer. This is because arsenic can affect a number of organs, such as the kidneys, skin, lungs, and lymphatic system.

4. Phthalates

Similar to parabens, phthalates are chemical compounds that can interfere with the endocrine and several other hormone systems in the body, including the estrogen, progesterone, and androgen systems.

In fact, several studies have found that this cosmetic ingredient can cause breast cancer and various other health problems.

5. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is classified as a cosmetic ingredient that can cause cancer. You can find this chemical in hair straightening products, makeupskin care, and body care.

Frequent use of products containing this ingredient can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Research reveals that workers exposed to high doses of formaldehyde, for example in industrial workers, develop myeloid leukemia and rare cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer.

6. Coal Tar

Coal tar is a form of carcinogen from the processing of coal. This ingredient can be found in hair dye products, dandruff and scalp treatments, and shampoos.

Many health organizations in the world categorize coal tar as a carcinogen. The effect itself has been found in humans.

Also Read: Recognize 9 Types of Cancer that are Vulnerable to Attacking Children

7. Triclosan

Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent that can prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. This ingredient is often found in antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, and cosmetics.

Research has found that triclosan can be both estrogenic and anti-estrogenic.

That is, at low levels this ingredient can increase the growth of cancer cells that are sensitive to estrogen (estrogenic). While at high levels, triclosan can suppress the growth of cancer cells (anti-estrogenic).

Now research is still studying the long-term effects of triclosan on skin cancer risk.

Now, that’s some cosmetic ingredients that can cause cancer. Knowing the adverse effects that can occur, be careful in choosing the various cosmetic products that will be used.

Be sure to read product labels properly and avoid the ingredients mentioned above.

If you have doubts about a particular product and want to know its authenticity and safety, visit the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) website first. Check BPOM products here.

  1. Anonymous. 2019. Triclosan. (Accessed February 24, 2023).
  2. Anonymous. 2021. Phthalates. (Accessed February 24, 2023).
  3. Anonymous. Carcinogens in Cosmetics. (Accessed February 24, 2023).
  4. Anonymous. Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products. (Accessed February 24, 2023).
  5. Jains, Sunny. 2022. Beware of These Toxic, Cancer-Causing Elements in Your Beauty Products. (Accessed February 24, 2023).
  6. National Cancer Institute. 2022. Formaldehyde. (Accessed February 24, 2023).

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