Presentation on Chemicals in Everyday
My name is Shelley Kramer, and I am the Local
Office Director for the Cancer Prevention Coalition of Los
Angeles, CA. Our Coalition group is a 501c3 non profit,
educational and advocacy group educating the public on various
The Cancer Prevention Coalition was founded in
1994, and is headed by Dr. Sam Epstein, MD, leading cancer
researcher and professor of Environmental Medicine at the
University of Illinois, School of Public Health. Dr. Epstein
wrote the Safe Shoppers Bible in 1995 together with Dr.David
Steinman. Dr. Epstein also wrote The Politics of Cancer
Revisited, Breast Cancer Prevention Program and his newest book,
Unreasonable Risk, How to Avoid Cancer From Personal Care and
Cosmetics, and has published over 300 articles in scientific
journals and peer reviewed applications.
The topics I will be covering here include
just the tip of the iceberg on this most important health issue
*To Become aware of being a wise consumer and
learn about the chemicals in everyday personal hygiene and
*The scientific information validating this
important health issue and
*How you can find safe, non toxic
I would like to tell you a little about myself
and my background
*In 1974, I discovered I had skin cancer all
over my face and hands. I did grow up in So Cal, at the beach
and in the sun, but never imagined how much I had damaged my
skin over the first 20 years of my life. The doctor gave me an
acid to put on my face to eat off the actinic keratosis cancers.
Then In 1985, I had a 5cm basal cell tumor removed and ľ" of my
lip cut out and another 3cm removed from my back. Then again in
1998, I discovered I had another basal cell tumor and had 75% of
my lower right eyelid removed and rebuilt It started as a tiny
sore that would bleed, peel, ooze, heal, then repeat the cycle
again. I was operated on for 4 hours, 5 cutsfor a 5cm,deep tumor
and took 30 stitches to rebuild my lower eyelid. I almost lost
my eye. Again in 1999, I had another 3 cm tumor removed from
under my left eye.
* My beautiful mother died in 1982 at age 56,
from breast, lymph and lung cancer. She had worked for Revlon
cosmetics for 15 years, putting cosmetic chemicals on women
across the United States, she was known as "Miss Shirley Marks",
from the House of Revlon. For 5 years prior to that she worked
for Helena Rubenstein cosmetics. I really began to see clearly
my field of work, finding out why there are so many cancers and
hoping to make a difference in the cancer prevention area.
been doing research on the reasons why we
get cancer and diseases ever since 1974, when I first found out
I had skin cancer and tumors. I went back to school, studying
health for more than 26 years.
February,1998, I saw an alarming and shocking
CBS National Television
News Special Report by reporter
Roberta Baskin called "Skin Deep", documenting the use of
inexpensive and hazardous chemicals in most shampoos. It
featured the FDA Director, Dr. Dr. Sam Epstein, and a research
chemist. They showed how shampoo was made and what ingredients
and chemicals went into making regular stock shampoo. They
stated that the cost of making such hair care products was
documented at costing a mere 8.9 cents per bottle, and could
sell for about $12. to $14.00 per bottle.
The cap on the
bottle cost more than the shampoo.
It was stated that since the early
formulations of these products, back in 1938, that the major
cosmetic companies, many of which were grand-fathered in with
the old laws. There have been no new laws on any of our
products since 1938, yet over 850,000 new
chemicals have been added to our products since then without
proper testing or analysis. Anyone Öcan put
products on the market without anyÖ FDA regulations. They donít
even need to list the ingredients they use any longer. They
did away with the regulation of registering new products back in
"In the last few years you have probably heard
on the radio, seen on TV and read articles
about this information on chemicals in our everyday products and
are probably as confused as I was. (emphasize)
in toothpaste! engine degreaser in shampoo! I was totally
shocked and really delved further into this research. Bill Moyer
had a PBS show special in March of 2001 called "Trade Secrets"
that exposed the chemical industry and the hidden truths about
their cancer causing products.
Is this a shock to some of you? It was to me.
I read the report from the Research to Prevent
Blindness studies, and the Department of Toxicology Studies
about sodium laurel sulfate causing eye tissue damage,Ö. another
report from the Wall Street Journal about Kids who Hate Baths,
it talks about the chemical dea, diethanolamine, together with
sodium laurel sulfate, causing liver and kidney damage.
Members of the Cancer Prevention Coalition
Released the following Press Release beginning in 1998
COSMETICS AND PERSONAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS POSE
HIGHEST CANCER RISK TO GENERAL PUBLIC - HIGHER THAN SMOKING
Cancer and health risk experts just concluded
reviews that indicate mainstream cosmetics and personal hygiene
products pose the highest cancer risk exposures to the general
public, higher than smoking cigarettes. The derivations are not
surprising after correlating U. S. Government research report
that the Cancer Prevention Coalition received via the Freedom of
The CPC Director, Dr. Sam Epstein, pursued
obtaining the report after reading a letter, in 1997, from
Senator Ed Kennedy to President Clinton concerning the severity
of this subject to the public health of the nation. The letter
addressed many known cancer causing, and reproductive hazardous
chemicals used to make most of our everyday personal hygiene and
beauty products. The letter also addressed the need for
immediate actions to protect the public, and rescind the "Buyer
Beware Approach" used within the government, cosmetic and
industrial chemical industry.
A 4.5 million dollar lawsuit was settled
between 51,000 people when clumps of their hair and scalp began
to fall out. Many are still bald. Making safe products is not
rocket science and can be done. It may cost a few pennies more
which gets into profit margins, but it is still cheaper than
chemotherapy, or other medical bills.
Cancer rates have essentially grown from 1 in
1,000,at the beginning of the century to 1 in 2 in the last 100
years. We are in an epidemic that is expected to get
much, much worse. At the current cancer growth rate, by the year
2030, essentially every American can expect to contract
Most scientists agree that cancer is initially
caused by industrial chemicals, and or radiation exposures.
Everyone comes in contact with these chemicals in food,
water, air (tobacco smoke), but the biggest risk now appears to
be absorption and inhalation of chemicals in our daily used
Hereís a Quote from the The Safe Shoppers
Bible it warns consumers by saying "Not
a single cosmetic company warns consumers of the presence of
carcinogens in its products - despite the fact that several
common cosmetic ingredients or their contaminants are
carcinogenic themselves or are carcinogenic precursors."
"Consumers have an inalienable right to know
what ingredients are in products they use daily, and to be
certain that chemicals posing chronic health risks will be
phased out when alternatives are available. These are rights
regardless of one's perception of the risk of the ingredient.
Yet walk down the aisle of any supermarket and you will quickly
see how minimal regulation has led to grossly inadequate
"How bad is the situation?
Some leading household products do not disclose to the consumer
that they contain carcinogens, neurotoxins or other hazardous
substances. Shoppers may choose these
products anyway and may want to continue using them, but they
deserve complete labeling information to make
an informed choice."
*It has only been discovered this past decade
that over 98% of our personal hygiene and beauty cosmetic
products contain controversial ingredients and other chemicals which
are now known carcinogens.
You are probably asking How can the government
let this happen? This sounds like another the tobacco scandal.
It took the government 60 years to recognize cigarettes as
carcinogens, yet they donít take them off the market, and what
about alcohol, they know that is dangerous too? It is being
uncovered, and it will take a long time to change any laws.
What about those warning labels on
toothpastes, bubble baths and mouthwashes?
Those warning labels are there for a reason.
Most Toothpastes and Mouthwashes contains sodium fluoride, a
known toxin, which is listed on MSDS sheets as "severe poison".
Bubble baths contains sodium lauryl sulfate and propylene
glycol, (propylene glycol has been listed as a carcinogen on the
9th report on Carcinogens). These chemicals are also
irritating to skin and membranes and could cause kidney and
liver damage. Here is the box from a toothpaste, let me read you
the warning label
One FDA study has shown
that washing your hair just once
with shampoo containing these ingredients, sodium
lauryl sulfate and cocoamide dea and propylene glycol, puts as
many nitrates into your blood stream as if you had eaten a
whole pound of bacon. These chemicals have been found to
cause liver and kidney disorders and cancer.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health
has identified over 800 chemicals available for use in
cosmetics which have been reported to the government as
toxic substances and known carcinogens.
The Wall Street Journal published an article
about Kids Who Hate Baths, about the hazardous chemicals in
*As of 1997
Senator Ed Kennedy went before
Congress with information from
the FDA and General Accounting
Office of our government that has
identified over 125 known controversial ingredients in our personal care
products. He has since published
several articles to Congress and was on the cover of the Boston
Globe identifying this problem, yet nothing has been done.
The FDA does not require any regulations on these products, and
can only take action if something is reported to
Isnít this very disturbing to think that for
all these years we have been using chemicals on our bodies that
could harm our skin and could potentially cause cancer." There
are many scientific studies, articles and books that we can read
about this information.
There are many studies that show that these
chemicals have small molecules and enter your blood stream
immediately when you put them on your body and they are taken up
by your heart, lungs, kidneys liver and brain. They are
finding propylene glycol in peopleís livers and other organs.
Some studies show that sodium laurel sulfate literally causes
the hair follicles to fall out.
The 1st, 6th and 9th
Reports on Carcinogens put out by the General Accounting Office
of our government on Propylene Oxide (which propylene glycol is
a derivative) and Mineral Oil and coal Tars, as known
carcinogens are in so many products on the market today.
"What are these damaging Surfactants and
why are there warning labels on them?
Surfactants or detergents such as certain
alcohols, polysorbates, cocoamide diethanolamine (from the
coconut plant) and sodium laurel sulfate and laureths are in a
wide range of personal care products including shampoos, hair
conditioners, cleansers, lotions, and creams, besides household
products such as soaps and cleaning products, contain These
ingredients are generally contaminated with high concentrations
of the highly volatile dioxane, which is both readily inhaled
and absorbed through the skin.
carcinogenicity of dioxane became
discovered in 1965 and subsequently confirmed in other studies
including by the National Cancer Institute in 1978
On the basis of such evidence,
the Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that
"the presence of dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is
a cause of concern." These avoidable risks of
cancer in numerous personal care, besides other consumer,
products is inexcusable, particularly as the dioxane
can be readily removed from surfactants during their manufacture
by a process known as "vacuum stripping."
does the governing arm of this industry, the Cosmetic, Toiletry
and Fragrance Association, have to say about all this?
I went to the annual meeting back in
November,2001, and the first chemical they brought to the table
was cocoamide DEA, diethanolamine and TEA, triethanolamine. They
acknowledged that they knew it caused cancer back in 1983, and
again in proven studies in 1998, but they still will not take it
off the market. They will also not take Mineral Oil off the
market, even though it has been reported as having killed small
children who have drank it. They only want to put a "warning
label" on products containing harmful and known carcinogens and
feel that is enough to protect consumers..
We all ask ourselves "Which one should I
choose?" Think about a time when you
might ask yourself this question, probably everyday. The choices
you make are important, especially when they concern your
health. You need to learn how to make wise decisions about the
health products and services you buy and use.
How Can you Become a Wise Health
Perhaps you think there is nothing much to
learn about buying products. Wise, shopping, however, is not
always that simple. Many people have learned that the most
costly products are not always the best ones. Questions you
should ask before you buy are
What ingredients are in the product and what
do they mean? Can I buy something better if I take more time to
look and think about it?
Who Can Help you Become a Wise Health
Public Health Educators, Health Care
professionals, nurses, pharmacists, doctors can give you some
advice about health care products. The library has a good source
of materials that can help you be a smart shopper, such as Dr.
Sam Epstein's and David Steinmanís, Safe Shoppers Bible, Judi
Vance's Beauty to Die, Donít Go to the Cosmetic Counter Without
me, and Aubrey Organics book about the toxins in products. News
reports and scientific articles are good sources also. Also the
www and FDA website has some information about products. And
Material Safety Data Sheets list all the chemicals that are in
our everyday products and their measure of safety or hazard.
Almost every University has these sheets.
How Can Advertising Influence You as a
Advertisements are sources of information that
help make people aware of different products or services. Some
ads give helpful information about a product. Not all give you
the information you need and want. Some give scientific claims
and those can be checked out with the facts in writing. The
product may or may not be a good choice for you.
Some companies spend millions of dollars each
year developing advertising promos to sell their products. Often
the price of a shampoo is higher simply because it comes in a
fancy container, but in reality the cap on the bottle costs more
than the shampoo itself.
What does the Cancer Prevention Coalition
recommend for us as consumers to do?
The Cancer Prevention Coalition urges the
public to do the following things to greatly reduce the risk of
cancer and safeguard their health from other diseases and birth
1- Check your products for obvious hazardous
chemicals such as propylene glycol, cocoamide DEA, lauramide
DEA, TEA, MEA, sodium lauryl and laureth sulfates, synthetic
glycerin, lanolin, sodium fluoride, polyethylene glycol, PG,
PEG, mineral oil, coal tar, petrolatum, petroleum, forms of
2. - Only manufacturers of safe products
deserve your business.
Only use products from companies that provide
proof that they do not use known toxins, carcinogens, or
reproductive hazardous chemicals in their products. Natural
products are no longer good enough. Poison ivy is natural, but
plants do not always contain safe chemicals. Again, safe
products might cost a few cents more, but you will save time,
money, health, and sick leave in the long run.
"Our goal is to encourage industry to provide
consumers more information and to produce safer products by
reducing reliance on toxic chemicals."
Wouldn't you rather lather with
effective, safe products rather than carcinogens or controversial ingredients?
I simply switched from buying
the harmful kind to buying the "safe" kind.
It has been my pleasure to have presented this
information to you. If you have any questions and would like to
read more information, you may find the information on my
For your Choice
of safe products without controversial ingredients
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