Shampoo Ingredient Linked to Brain and
One of the most common, and potentially toxic, compounds commonly found in personal care products is DEA (diethanolamine).
Belonging to a class of chemicals known as alkanolamines (which includes
monoethanolamine and triethanolamine or TEA), DEA has been linked with kidney,
liver, and other organ damage according to several government-funded research
According to a 1995 study funded by the
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, DEA has low acute toxicity
but significant cumulative toxicity. This is because it cannot be easily
excreted from the body but instead builds up in the fatty tissues of the liver,
brain, kidney, and spleen with repeated oral and dermal exposure.
As DEA collects in the tissues, it spurs an accumulation of abnormal
phospholipids that can lead to mounting tissue and nerve damage and premature
death (Matthew et al.,1995). Another study found that oral and topical
application of DEA in rodents resulted in anemia, kidney degeneration, and nerve
damage to the brain and spinal cord (Melnick et al., 1994). Even more disturbing
was that several animals died before the study ended. The authors concluded that
"DEA is toxic at multiple organ sites in rats, either by oral exposure in the
drinking water or by topical application."
DEA is one of the most common cosmetic and hair care ingredients.
Approximately 200 million pounds of DEA are produced annually in the U.S., most
of which goes into personal care products as emulsifiers, thickeners, and
wetting agents (USITC, 1990). Despite its popularity, however, research
indicates that this compound may be highly toxic.
The FDA accepts that the presence of DEA and TEA in cosmetics can pose a
significant consumer health threat In the 1970s it published a notice in the
Federal Register in which it urged the industry to remove these products from
cosmetics. --Steinman and Epstein, 1995
Many other potentially toxic petrochemicals are found in commercial
personal care products. Some quarternium compounds, like behentrimonium
chloride, can be fatal if ingested and can cause necrosis of the mucus membranes
in concentrations as low as one percent. Moreover, some synthetic colors, such
as FD & C Blue No.1, are suspected carcinogens (cancer causing agents).
"I would be leery of using any product with synthetic chemicals," said Ann
Perry, a New York consultant who previously worked for Helena Rubenstein. "At
the very least, they can cause dermatitis and eye irritation. And because many
of these petrochemicals have been inadequately tested, we have no idea of the
kind of harmful effects they can have with longterm exposure."
Reprinted with permission of Young Living, Lehi, UT 84043
Essential Edge, June/July 1999 issue, pg.14