A new study released by the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) School of Public Health raises fresh concerns about the safety of using conventional lipstick products, as many of them were found to contain dangerously high levels of aluminum, cadmium, lead and other toxins.
Testing of 32 commonly sold lipsticks and lip glosses found they contain lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals — some at potentially toxic levels, according to researchers at the University.
"Just finding these metals isn't the issue.It's the levels that matter," says co-author S. Katharine Hammond, professor of environmental health. She says some of the toxic metals are occurring at levels that could pose health problems in the long run.
"This study is saying, 'FDA, wake up and pay attention,' " she says.
Lipstick and lip gloss are ingested or absorbed by the user. The health effect depends partly on how often and how heavily the product is applied.
For even the average user, the study found that some of the lipsticks could result in excessive exposure to chromium, a carcinogen linked to stomach tumors. High use could potentially cause overexposure to aluminum, cadmium and manganese.
Hammond says the results are preliminary and more research needs to be done, because there's no U.S. standards for metal content in cosmetics. The European Union views cadmium, chromium and lead as unacceptable ingredients, at any level, in cosmetic products.
Although the study is small, Hammond says, the 32 tested products are common brands sold in stores nationwide. The studies findings appear in the the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
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