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Cancer and Anti-Aging Creams

CHICAGO, IL, October 6, 2009 –/WORLD-WIRE/– Anti-aging skin products are known as cosmeceuticals, as they overlap the distinction between cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. These products are the fastest growing sales sector of the entire cosmetics industry, and are widely marketed as being safe. But Cancer Prevention Coalition Chairman Dr. Samuel S. Epstein warns that altering the physical structure of skin with chemicals to look more youthful comes at a hidden price to the skin, and even more so to overall health.

The term cosmeceutical, applied to anti-wrinkle and anti-aging creams, was first adopted by the cosmetics industry in 1984. It was developed as a way to avoid subjecting the industry’s claims to the authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The idea was to create a new category of products that did more than just improve the appearance of the skin, yet do somewhat less than pharmaceutical drugs.

But Dr. Epstein wants to alert consumers to the dangers of cosmeceuticals, including the increased risk of skin cancer.

In addition, he is urging the new FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. to take “appropriate regulatory action to protect the unsuspecting public from the dangers of cosmeceuticals.”

Here is what we know of the overwhelming majority of cosmeceuticals, says Dr. Epstein, based on toxicology and clinical testing.

To increase the permeability of skin, hydroxy acids are widely sold on store shelves and used in cosmetic salons. Both alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), and beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) are common ingredients in cosmeceuticals.

Worse still, Dr. Epstein warns, AHAs are used in an estimated 5 percent of all products without any labeling to this effect.

Even the industry’s Cosmetics Ingredient Review Compendium has admitted that these ingredients strip the skin of its protective surface, which absorbs long-wave ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and tanning salons.

Apart from increased risks of sunburn, exposure to AHAs also increases risks of a dangerous skin cancer, known as malignant melanoma. Although it is one of the less common types of skin cancer, malignant melanoma is responsible for roughly 75 percent of all skin cancer-related deaths.

Reacting to these concerns, in 1992 the FDA issued a consumer warning that products containing these ingredients “could destroy the upper layers of skin, causing severe burns, swelling and pain.” However, the FDA took no regulatory action to protect consumers, and the agency still has taken no regulatory action, Dr. Epstein points out.

Bisabolol is another cosmeceutical ingredient which strips off the surface layers of skin. This chemical is also a penetration enhancer, meaning that it increases the absorption of cosmeceutical ingredients through the skin.

Limonene is also a common ingredient in anti-aging products. “Apart from being an irritant, it is a well documented carcinogen,” says Dr. Epstein.

Parabens are commonly added to cosmeceuticals as preservatives. However, Dr. Epstein cautions consumers that even when tested at low concentrations on the skin of pregnant rodents, parabens induce toxic hormonal effects in male embryos and infants.

“Nano-particles are more recent and ultra-dangerous ingredients in cosmeceuticals, particularly anti-wrinkle creams,” warns Dr. Epstein. “By reducing the size of ingredients to the ultra-microscopic scale, they penetrate readily and deeply through the skin into the blood and organs all over the body.”

“Ninety percent of all cosmetics sold in the world today are probably cosmeceuticals,” says Dr. Albert Kligman, the dermatologist who first coined the term, in a 2005 interview with the journal Dermatologic Surgery.

“The terminology regarding the distinction between cosmetics and drugs is a marketing game in the U.S.,” Kilgman said. “If you reverse aging, you are a drug. If you smooth skin, you are a cosmetic. Categorization depends more on the language on the bottle rather than the product in the bottle.”

Dr. Epstein says, “These statements raise troubling concerns regarding the identity and safety of ingredients in cosmeceutical products. So many women, and even some men, slather these products all over their skin, the largest body organ, in the naïve belief that they have nothing to fear but aging.”

“The industry markets cosmeceuticals with anecdotal or even wild claims of effectiveness, rather than scientific data, and with reckless disregard for safety,” Dr. Epstein cautions.

He points to a 2007 warning from the respected Mayo Clinic that cosmeceuticals have rarely been tested for safety, and also that they may contain “powerful active ingredients that can affect biological processes.”

Cosmeceutical manufacturers “make a calculated decision not to make claims that will result in scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the product as a drug,” stated Dr. Mary P. Lupo of the Tulane University School of Medicine in a 2005 issue of Dermatologic Surgery. “Clinical testing could also draw the attention of the FDA, so some manufacturers opt instead to allow the consumer arena to become the test market.”

“So there you have it!” Dr. Epstein says, “People who use cosmeceuticals are guinea pigs in reckless and self-serving industry experiments to test whether these products are safe for human health. This should be a loud siren wakeup warning for anyone who still believes that these products have been tested for toxicity by the industry, and approved by the FDA.”

In spite of these disturbing concerns, dermatologist Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of three New York Times best selling books, is an active proponent of a “Men’s Skin Care Line,” his patented product based on nanoparticles.

Apart from the ineffectiveness of the great majority of cosmeceutical products, most are highly priced. In 2006, Consumer Reports magazine evaluated anti-wrinkle creams on the market, and concluded there was no correlation between price and possible effectiveness. “The best advice is prevent those wrinkles in the first place,” read the review. “Stay out of the sun and don’t smoke.”

Dr. Epstein says that the cosmeceutical product Restylane is an exception to his warnings. “This Swedish anti-wrinkling agent is based on the natural ingredient hyaluronic acid, one of the very few scientifically proven safe and effective cosmeceuticals,” he says.

Besides Botox injections, which have been on the market long enough to be accepted as safe, there are emerging green alternatives to the wide range of conventional anti-aging products now on store shelves.

Dr. Epstein says these include natural botanicals, such as date palm oil, which have been found to be safe and effective for certain types of wrinkles, and topical green tea cream, which has proven effective for treating sun damaged skin.

Dr. Epstein anticipates that Dr. Hamburg, the highly respected new FDA Commissioner, will take appropriate regulatory action to protect the unsuspecting public from the dangers of cosmeceuticals.

Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is professor emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health; Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition; The Albert Schweitzer Golden Grand Medalist for International Contributions to Cancer Prevention; and author of over 200 scientific articles and 15 books on cancer, including the groundbreaking The Politics of Cancer (1979), and Toxic Beauty (2009).

Samuel S. Epstein, MD
Professor emeritus Environmental & Occupational Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition
Chicago, Illinois


October 18, 2009 at 5:09 pm Leave a comment

Today is LiveStrong Day!

From the Austin Statesman.  If you can, make a small donation.


Armstrong: Put cancer at top of global agenda

Friday, October 02, 2009

Today is LIVESTRONG Day, a global day of action to raise awareness in our communities about the fight against cancer.

Today is also the 13th anniversary of my own cancer diagnosis. Like most 25-year-olds, I was fearless, ready to conquer the world and, because I was in the midst of changing employers, without health insurance. I was lucky. One of my sponsors, Oakley, stood up for me and threatened to take all of their business elsewhere if their insurance carrier refused to cover me. Without their help, I might not be alive today. Or I might be completely broke, still trying to dig my way out of a massive pile of medical bills.

That kind of luck shouldn’t have anything to do with whether the 12 million people around the world who will be diagnosed with cancer this year go broke trying to get the treatment they need to survive.

Cancer is projected to become the world’s leading cause of death next year. More than 28 million people around the world are living with cancer today and, without greater progress in detection, prevention and treatment, that number could triple by 2030.

If the cancer epidemic continues to grow as predicted, it will have a devastating effect on world economies. A new Economist Intelligence Unit study commissioned by the Lance Armstrong Foundation pegs the global economic impact of the disease at more than $300 billion in 2009 alone. In coming years, developing nations will be forced to spend increasing amounts of money on treatment and on public assistance to patients. In the U.S. and Western Europe, where aging populations are already straining public health costs, the rise in cancer means an ever greater percentage of national budgets will be devoted to healthcare.

That’s the big picture. But the disease also has a devastating personal economic impact. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, cancer survivors in the U.S. and Europe were 37 percent more likely to be unemployed than those who have not been afflicted by the disease. This is a health and economic crisis on par with the worldwide recession.

The global economic downturn that began in 2007 is only now showing signs of easing. Governments have made history-setting stimulus efforts to stabilize their financial systems. It would be easy to simply say, “Sorry … we have to wait to fight cancer.”

The problem is, cancer won’t wait. The threat grows minute by minute. Making the tough decision now to combat that threat will pay dividends in the decades to come by driving down the costs of treatment and public assistance.

Put plainly, the impact of diseases like cancer won’t subside with the recovery of global markets.

Knowing that every country is confronting the growing burden of cancer and seeking answers, the sixth annual LIVESTRONG Day for the first time is being marked globally. So at more than 1,000 events around the world today, people are taking much-needed action to put cancer at the top of the global agenda and make it impossible to ignore.

And to this day, my family and I remain on Oakley’s insurance plan. We are the lucky ones. We can no longer allow luck to determine the fate of people with cancer.

Armstrong, seven-time winner of the Tour de France, is a cancer survivor and founder of the LIVESTRONG movement whose goal is to support survivors throughout the world and make cancer a global priority.

October 2, 2009 at 6:49 pm Leave a comment

Hearing Back from Rep. Waxman

Just thought you’d like to know what my congressman is up to!

Dear Ms. Goldsmith:

Thank you for contacting me to express your support for H. Res. 727, the National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month resolution.  I was glad to hear from you.

I completely agree that we must do more to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and actively work to find effective treatments and a cure.  As you know, if ovarian cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early stage before the cancer spreads, the survival rate is as high as 90 percent.  I look forward to supporting H.Res. 727 and other efforts in Congress to promote early recognition of all forms of cancer.

One of the best ways to make progress in the fight against cancer is to adequately fund the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Throughout my years in Congress, I have fought aggressively for the highest possible funding levels to research, treat and prevent illnesses, and have stressed the importance of understanding warning signs and the necessity of early testing. Earlier this year, I joined with other concerned Members of Congress in a letter to House appropriators requesting an increase of at least 7% in funding for NIH in Fiscal Year 2010.  You can view this letter at, and you can be sure I will do everything I can to ensure that NIH receives these funds.

With kind regards, I am



Member of Congress

September 29, 2009 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

Favorite Mascara

As many of you know, I’m a huge Mirenesse mascara fan.  So big a fan that when they stopped selling online in the states, I started to order from Australia.  They’d send samples of other products, such as lipsticks, cleansers, etc. – many of which I also fell in love with.

After I read “Anti-cancer:  a new way of life” (Servan-Schreiber), I started to get really conscious about what I was putting on my skin.  It’s harder than you think to avoid parabens and phthalates.  Origins is a good line here in the US, but the Mirenesse mascara was so good I just continued to use it.

I always liked the fact that Mirenesse frequently gives their profits to cancer charities in Australia.  Today I discovered that their products are organic to Australian standards, and have no parabens or other bad ingredients.

In my book, I like supporting brands that support us.  Great products + socially-conscious company = a winning formula for healthy beauty!!

P.S.  If you sign up for their mailing list, you’ll be inundated daily, but sometimes there’s a great offer that you just can’t pass by.  Shipping is just about the same as here in the US and it arrives quite quickly.

September 21, 2009 at 7:01 pm Leave a comment

On the eve of the President’s health care speech…

…a word from Bill Moyer’s – really worth the listen!

September 9, 2009 at 4:39 pm Leave a comment

Give…and maybe win a new washer/dryer!

For A Cause

This September, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Electrolux and Kelly Ripa are again stepping up to help raise support for OCRF.

Throughout the month, you can donate $5 to the cause1 by
texting the word “KELLY” to 85944
from your mobile phone – or by logging on to

Visitors to Kelly Confidential can further help the cause by sending a virtual T-shirt “T-mail” to a friend. For every T-mail sent, Electrolux will donate $1 to OCRF2.

In addition, every day you log on to the web site, you will be entered for a chance to win a luxury front load washer and dryer from Electrolux in Turquoise Sky, the color inspired by the teal ribbon of ovarian cancer awareness.

For more information, visit

1Standard text messaging rates apply
2With a minimum of $15K and a maximum of $20K

September 9, 2009 at 4:10 pm Leave a comment

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