Carcinogens in products stir up new health concern

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“We all seem to be swimming in a sea of cancer-causing stuff… though most remain harmless if in small amounts and if not used frequently,” feel experts.

Hyderabad: "We all seem to be swimming in a sea of cancer-causing stuff… though most remain harmless if in small amounts and if not used frequently," feel experts.

Recently there was a controversy pertaining to a possible negative impact on health due to presence of monosodium glutamate (MSG) as well as tertiary-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)- a chemical preservative derived from petroleum industry in certain brands of instant noodles.

Now, according to CBS News in the US, "Procter & Gamble is recalling aerosol dry shampoo and conditioner spray products from half a dozen brands sold nationwide after finding benzene in some of them."

The recall according to the news service involves products produced in the United States from the P&G brands Aussie, Herbal Essences, Pantene and Waterless, the Cincinnati-based consumer goods conglomerate said Friday in a notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration. Previously discontinued aerosol dry shampoo products from its Hair Food and Old Spice brands are also included in the recall.

This has sparked a new debate and concern among people since P&G products are used across India as well.

Dr Srinivas Chakravarty, who is American Board Certified in Medicine, Haematology and in Medical Oncology, said: "Benzene is a known cancer causing chemical and is present in many commonly used brands. Most remain harmless if it is in small amounts and if such products are used infrequently." Referring to the recall, he said, "It is usually done to study the quantities and their potential impact and also for legalities."

According to Dr Janaki K Yalamanchili, Dermatologist, Benzene by itself is a known carcinogen, it enters through skin, hair, and nails. You need to be very careful about the quantity of benzene you are exposed to, if it is a long-term exposure, it could be harmful, and all such products should be withdrawn.

In fact, withdrawal of certain products by P&G in the US is important. A detailed analysis is must since in India benzene is listed under the carcinogenic product. It is better to choose products that do not contain benzene. In fact, products with benzene should be banned.

Most of the good shampoos do not contain benzene, to know about it you need to check the ingredients list of the shampoo. Usually, in the country, all aftershave lotions have benzene, if it gets absorbed through the skin it can lead to cancers including leukemia, bone marrow, and other blood disorders.

Head of surgical oncology SVIMS hospital Tirupati and other experts said that most of the chemical-based shampoos use benzene. But then what is important is to know the percentage of it. If it is in less quantity, and if not used regularly, they may not be harmful. But nothing can be said with certainty till a detailed analysis is done.

Exposure to high percentage of benzene, doctors say can result in cancers including leukemia and blood cancer of the bone marrow, as well as life-threatening blood disorders. That is why it is important to know the percentage of it in products like shampoos.

Principal of S V Ayurvedic College said, "In India it is very difficult to say the exact ingredients in any item as the rules are not very stringent. Not only shampoos, but even fruits, vegetables and several other items have cancer causing elements."

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