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List of the More Widely Known Dangerous Ingredients in Body & Food Products

This list only contains the more widely known chemicals and additives in body and food products. There are thousands more in use. Many of the chemicals listed below are suspected or known carcinogens, toxins, hormone disruptors, poisons and contaminates.

Acesulfame K
Sugar substitute found in pudding, chewing gum, non-dairy creamers, instant coffee mixes, tea mixes and gelatin desserts. May increase cancer in humans.

Also known as Dimethylketone, 2-Propanone, Beta-Ketopropane. Inhalation of moderate to high amounts, even for a short time results in entry of acetone into bloodstream where it is carried to all other organs. Nose, throat, lung and eye irritant, headaches, confusion, increased pulse rate, effects on blood, nausea, vomiting and unconsciousness, coma. Shortens the menstrual cycle in women. Effects of long-term exposure include kidney, liver and nerve damage, increased birth defects, metabolic changes and coma. Found in nail polish remover.

Found in many nail care products. Known to cause cancers in humans and experimental animals.

Acrylamide, produced naturally in some foods when cooked at high temps. Manufactured for use in polyacrylamide gels, sometimes used as a treatment for drinking water and/ or wastewater. Acrylamide causes cancer in animals and in large doses, nerve damage in humans. Smoking is a major acrylamide producer as is frying, deep frying or extended micro-waving.

Implicated in oral cancer. Found in mouthwash, astringent, toothpaste, cleansers.

Alkyl-phenol Ethoxylades
May reduce sperm count. Found in shampoo and bubble bath.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid
Destroys skin cells and leaves skin more susceptible to damage from the environment and skin cancer. Actually ends up aging skin. Found in anti-aging facial creams and lotions.

Heavy concentrations may be linked to Alzheimer’s dementia. Aluminum is in many antiperspirants and prevalent in water supplies. Processed foods contain dietary aluminum.
Sodium aluminum phosphate appears in pickles, cheese and baking soda.

Ammonium Glycolate
A photosensitizer with potential to increase risk of sunburn and skin cancer by intensifying UV exposures in deep skin layers. This sensitizer can instigate immune system response that includes itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin. It is also a penetration enhancer which alters the skins’ structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deeper into the skin, thus increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream. Found in body products.

Ammonium Persulfate
Found in hair color and bleaching kit sensitizer - can instigate immune system response that can include itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin, lung sensitizer - can instigate immune system response that can include asthma attacks or other problems with the lungs and airways.

Immune system toxin, respiratory toxicant, skin or sense organ toxicant, classified as toxic in one or more government assessments.

Genetically Modified, synthetic sugar substitute. People report dizziness, headaches and even seizures. Scientists believe it can alter behavior due to altered brain function. Long term effects of this genetically modified organism on human health has not been studied or tested. Found as a sweetener in foods and some body products, such as shaving gel. See our Genetically Modified / GMO Foods section for more information.

Benzalkonium chloride, cetrimonium chloride and lauryl dimonium hydrolysed collagen Found in hair treatment products. Both are toxic and allergenic.

Inhalation of high levels can cause headaches, rapid heart rate, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness and death. Hodgkin’s and Lymphomas result from inhalation. Used in detergents, drugs, pesticides and adhesives.

Benzoic Acid
Inhalation affects nervous system and is moderately toxic by ingestion. Severe eye and skin irritant. Used as a food preservative and in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics

Benzoic / Benzyl / Benzene
Contains carcinogens, endocrine disruptor, may cause birth defects. Found in shower gels, shampoos, bubble bath.

Benzoyl Peroxide
In acne treatments, bar soap, facial cleansers and food additives! Highly toxic/ irritant.

Bisphenol A or BPA
Toxic plastic chemical used as a can lining in brands of some infant formulas. Also found in water bottles, this chemical is used to produce polycarbonate and epoxy plastics. For babies, check food container labels and beware of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. Chemical reactions can occur when plastic is heated.

Banned in other countries, these two preservatives are considered carcinogenic but remain in U.S. manufactured foods that contain oil as they retard rancidity. Found in foods and body products.

May break down into formaldehyde, may form carcinogenic nitrosamines. Found in body products.

Potential breast cancer risk and endocrine disruptor raising concern for impaired fertility or development, increased risk for certain cancers, itching burning and blistering of skin. Found in body products.

Causes cancer in animals. Used in cosmetics, inhalation could cause chemical pneumonitis.

Coal Tar Dyes – (includes D&C Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 33, etc.)
Even though their carcinogenicity has recently been proven, the 1938 Act includes a specific exemption for them. Severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, fatigue, lack of concentration, nervousness, increased risk of Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Found in bubble bath, hair dye, dandruff shampoo, toothpaste and foods. For more information, see the Dyes Commonly Used in Food and Body Product Section.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine
May contain harmful impurities or form toxic breakdown products, itching, burning and blistering of skin. Synthesized from coconuts, this chemical is found in body products and may be labeled natural or organic.

Formerly the active ingredient in rat poison. A carcinogenic ingredient used in the manufacturing of deodorants, shampoos, skin fresheners and perfumes.

D&C Yellow 11
Found in: Lip gloss, polish remover, nail polish, bath oil/salts/soak, body spray, mositurizer, lipstick, styling gel/lotion, bar soap, after sun products, cologne, nail treatment. Color safe for external use only, found in ingested products, Color not approved for use around eyes, in eye products

DEA: Diethanolamine
A chemical used as a wetting or thickening agent in shampoos, soaps, hairsprays and sunscreens, blocks absorption of the nutrient choline, which is essential to brain development in a fetus.

An additive that tastes like butter causes a serious lung condition called bronchiolitis obliterans, or “popcorn workers’ lung. Found in foods, especially microwave popcorn.

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
A chemical used to keep nail polish from chipping, has been connected to cancer in lab animals as well as long-term fertility issues in newborn boys. Banned in Europe, but still in use in the U.S. Found in nail polish.

A silicone emollient, which coats the skin not allowing toxins out. May promote tumors and accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes. Found in lotions and creams.

Damage and weaken tooth enamel allowing more staining and discoloration to take place. Found in tooth whitening products.

Disodium EDTA
Harmful if swallowed or inhaled, causes irritation to skin, eyes and respiratory tract. Found in cosmetics.

Diazolidinyl Urea
Found in facial cleansers, shampoos and conditioners. Linked to neurotoxicity and immunotoxicity

DMDM Hydantoin
Contains formaldehyde , an ingredient linked to cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity. Allergenic, can be an irritant to eyes skin and lungs. Common in manicure/pedicure products and hair treatment packages.

Found in some mascaras's suspected as a cause of cancer in humans, based on studies of human populations or laboratory animals.

Suffocates skin by not allowing moisture in or out. Found in facial creams and body lotions.

May contain lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Accumulates in body and contributes to bone disease. Carcinogenic. Found in toothpastes.

Suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin, it may be fatal if swallowed, absorbed through skin, inhaled or swallowed. Can cause spasms, edema, chemical pneumonitis and is extremely destructive to tissue of the mucous membrane, this chemical is found in many nail care products. Known to cause cancers in humans and experimental animals. Found in baby shampoo, bubble bath, deodorants, perfume, cologne, hair dye, mouthwash, toothpaste, hair spray, nail polish.

Fragrances (Synthetic)
Some perfumes / fragrances contain hundreds of chemicals. Some, such as methylene chloride are carcinogenic. Some cause brain damage or are neurotoxins. Avoid unless you can be sure they are not carcinogenic.

Glycolic Acid
Penetration enhancer which alters skin structure, allowing other chemicals to penetrate deeper into the skin, increasing the amounts of other chemicals that reach the bloodstream, skin or sense organs. As a sensitizer it can instigate immune system response that can include itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of skin. Toxicant, neurotoxin, kidney toxicant, gastrointestinal or liver toxicant. Found in creams, lotions, cosmetics.

GMO/Genetically Modified Organism
Plants, animals or foods that have been genetically modified, genetically engineered or BT/Biotechnology modified. Genetic engineering enables scientists to create plants, animals and micro-organisms by manipulating genes in a way that does not occur naturally. Minimal testing shows that animals fed GMO feed, refuse to eat it. When force-fed the feed (corn, soy, tomatoes etc.) the animals developed stomach lesions and malformations of organs. GMO food is not labeled as such in the U.S. Almost all other countries have banned the use of GMO in food and body products due to insufficient testing. See GMO section for more information.

Hydroabietyl Alcohol
Found in styling gel/lotions. Unsafe for use in cosmetics according to the fragrance industry's International Fragrance Association.

High Fructose Corn Syrup/HFCS
High fructose consumption has been fingered as a causative factor in heart disease. It raises blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. It makes blood cells more prone to clotting, and it may also accelerate the aging process. See Sugars, Insulin Resistance and Glycemic Index section for more information.

Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated Oils
Hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats. A trans fat is an otherwise normal fatty acid that has been radically changed by high heat. Trans fats are poison: just like arsenic. Partially hydrogenated oils will not only kill you in the long term by producing diseases like multiple sclerosis and allergies that lead to arthritis, but in the meantime they will make you fat! See Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils section for more information

A severely toxic and very powerful chemical. Banned in the United Kingdom, but still used in the U.S. Found in skin lightening products and hair dyes, this chemical alters the skins natural structure inhibiting the production of Melanin. Without natural protection, the skin is more susceptible to skin cancer. Prolonged use of Hydroquinone will thicken collagen fibers damaging the connective tissues. The result is rough blotchy skin leaving it with a spotty caviar appearance.

Used in cosmetics. Inhalation could cause chemical pneumonitis.

Imidazolidinyl Urea
This allergenic chemical finds its way into deodorants, shampoos, hand cream and some mascaras.

Potential breast cancer risk. Itching, burning and blistering of skin. Found in body products.

Isoproponal/Isopropyl Alcohol
Moderately toxic chemical causing flushing, pulse rate decrease, blood pressure lowering, anesthesia, narcosis, headache, dizziness, mental depression, drowsiness, hallucinations, distorted perceptions, respiratory depression, nausea, vomiting and coma. Used to clean/disinfect skin, lower temperatures. Found in some body products.

Kajoic Acid
A chemical that inhibits melanin production. Used in skin lightening products, it damages the skin and makes it more susceptible to cancer.

Can cause eyelashes to fall out. Found in mascara.

While lanolin itself is skin beneficial, it may contain carcinogenic pesticides such as DDT, lindane, dieldrin and other neurotoxins. Can cause rashes. Found in body products.

Can dry and damage skin. Found in bars of soap.

Magnesium Stearate / Stearic Acid
May contain phosphatidyl choline which collapses cell membranes and selectively kills T-Cells which breaks down the immune system. An execeptant that is used to bind medicinal tablets and make them smooth it is also used in pharmaceuticals, foods, talcum powder, ammunition, and as a drying agent in paints.

MEA: Cocamide DEA, Lauramide DEA, Linoleamide DEA, Oleamide DEA
NDEA (N-nitrosodiethanolamine) forms when DEA reacts with nitrosating agents or the actual addition of nitrite as a preservative. As there is no way to determine if NDEA has been formed, it is imperative to avoid all products containing DEA as it is a known carcinogen. Often used in cosmetics to adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids to convert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser.

Methylisothiazoline, or MIT
Causes neurological damage. Found in shampoo.

Methyl Methacrylate
May cause fingers and nails to inflame. Found in nail polish.

Potential breast cancer risk and endocrine disruptor raising concern for impaired fertility or development of fetus, and increased risk for certain cancers, itching, burning and blistering of skin. A close cousin of benzoic acid: poisonous and moderately toxic it is found in body products.

Mineral Oil
A derivative of petroleum, this additive clogs pores, locks in toxins, suffocates and dries skin and inhibits your skins natural oil production further increasing dehydration. Causes testicular tumors in the fetus, deposits accumulate in the lymph nodes and prevent absorption of vitamin A from the intestines. Found in blush, baby oil, lotions, foundation and creams.

Monosodium Glutamate/MSG
MSG is an excitotoxin, which causes nerve damage and allergic reactions. Found in hundreds of foods, often under other names. See our Monosodium Glutamate / MSG section for more information

Gasoline additive. Known as a “likely” human carcinogenic.

Neotame is a reformulated aspartame that will require smaller amounts than aspartame to achieve the same sweetness. Neotame, like aspartame, contains aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and a methyl esther. Animal studies reveal aspartic acid and glutamic acid load on the same receptors in the brain, cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an additive fashion. People who are sensitive to processed free glutamic acid (MSG) experience similar reactions to aspartame, and people who are sensitive to aspartame experience similar reactions to MSG. People who currently react to MSG and/or aspartame should expect to react similarly to Neotame. Found in soft drinks, pharmaceuticals, processed foods of all kinds.

Nitrate – Nitrite
While nitrate itself is harmless; it is readily converted to nitrite. When nitrite combines with compounds called secondary amines, it forms nitrosamines: extremely powerful cancer-causing chemicals. The chemical reaction occurs most readily at the high temperatures of frying. Nitrite has long been suspected as being a cause of stomach cancer. (See Sodium Nitrite)

Extremely powerful, cancer-causing chemicals formed at high temperatures when the preservative nitrite combines with compounds called secondary amines.

While fat-free, this additive has a fatal side effect: it attaches to valuable nutrients and flushes them out of the body. Some of these nutrients, called carotenoids, appear to protect us from such diseases as lung cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration. Olestra replaces fats in ‘fat-free’ foods.

Padimate-O (PABA)
Nitrosamines, potent carcinogens, may form in products that contain Padimate-O. There is no way of knowing if they have formed. Found in cosmetics and sunscreens.

Possible carcinogen. Found in cosmetics and food.

Toxic flame retardant, used in baby bedding to slow advance of fire. Residue found in breast milk.

It is rocket science! Perchlorate is a by- product of rocket fuel, discovered in over 90% of the U.S. lettuce and milk supply. It interferes with thyroid function can cause thyroid cancer and or hypothyroidism.

PEG Stearates
Potentially contaminated with or breaking down into chemicals linked to cancer or other significant health problems. Found in cosmetics, creams and foods.

PEG (Polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, oxynol: any ethoxylated compound, including SLES)
May contain ¼-dioxane which is a possible carcinogen, estrogen mimic and endocrine disruptor. Can only be removed from a product through vacuum stripping during processing. Avoid all ethyoxylated products as a precaution. Found in foods and body products.

PEG-12 Distearate
May contain harmful impurities or form toxic breakdown products linked to cancer or other significant health problems. Found in creams, lotions, cosmetics and foods.

PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate
May contain harmful impurities or form toxic breakdown products linked to cancer or other significant health problems, gastrointestinal or liver toxicity hazards. Found in cosmetics, creams, lotions and foods.

May contain harmful impurities or form toxic breakdown products linked to cancer or other significant health problems. Found in foods, lotions, creams and cosmetics.

Petroleum (Petrolatum)
Suffocates skin and traps toxins in body, clogs pores. Found in lotions, skin creams, and body jelly.

PFOA or C8
Used when processing polytetrafluroroethylene (PTFE) or Teflon. This toxic chemical remains in animals and humans for indefinite periods.

Perflurooctanotane sulfonate. A fluorocarbon used in producing repellents and surfactant products, like stain resistant fabric.

Possible connection to reproductive or developmental harm to fetus, potential for reduced fertility, classified as toxic and an irritant, potential risks to wildlife and environment through excretion of body product toxins and disposal of cosmetics.

Accumulates in the body; proven damage to liver, lungs, kidneys and reproductive systems. Appears in vinyl flooring, plastic wallpaper, perfume, hair spray, deodorant, nail polish, hair gel, mousse, body and hand lotion. Look for it in children’s toys, as; DEHP, BBP and DBP.

Polyethylene Glycol /PEG
Moderately toxic, eye irritant and possible carcinogen. Many glycols produce severe acidosis, central nervous system damage and congestion. Can cause convulsions, mutations, and surface EEG changes. Found in cosmetics, body products, foods, lotions.

Possible carcinogen. Found in lipstick, mascara, baby soap, eye shadow.

Used in cosmetics. Inhalation could cause chemical pneumonitis .

May contain harmful impurities or form toxic breakdown products linked to cancer or other significant health problems. Found in body products.

Potassium Bromate
An additive that increases the volume and crumb of bread, is banned worldwide except in the U.S. and Japan. Considered carcinogenic.

p-Phenylenediamine (PPD)
Very toxic substance, used in hair dyeing, shampoo’s and hair spray. Highly carcinogenic, developmental and reproductive toxicity, it is allergenic and can cause skin irritation issues.

Propylene Glycol
Kidney damage, liver abnormalities, inhibits skin cell growth, damages cell membranes causing rashes, surface damage and dry skin.

Absorbed into blood stream and travels to all organs. Many glycols produce severe acidosis, central nervous system damage and congestion. Can cause convulsions, mutations, and surface EEG changes. It is derived from petroleum products. The Material Safety Data Sheets on propylene glycol warns against contact with eyes, skin and clothing. It also says inhalation can cause irritation of nasal passages, ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Research also shows that it alters cell membranes and causes cardiac arrest. Found in shaving gel, lotions, shampoo, conditioners, foods, deodorant.

Potential breast cancer risk and endocrine disruptor raising concern for impaired fertility or development, and increased risk for certain cancers, itching burning and blistering of skin, gastrointestinal or liver toxicity hazard. A close cousin of benzoic acid: poisonous and moderately toxic. Found in body products.

PVC/ polyvinyl chloride
When produced or burned, this common plastic releases dioxins, may cause cancer, affect immune and reproductive systems.

Quaternium-7, 15, 31, 60 etc.
Toxic, causes skin rashes and allergic reactions. Formaldehyde releasers. Substantive evidence of casual relation to leukemia, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. Found in body products.

Sodium Chloride
Table salt (processed at high heat). Eye irritation, some hair loss, and dry and itchy skin. Found in shampoo as a thickener.

Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
Potentially contaminated with or breaking down into chemicals linked to cancer or other significant health problems. Found in facial moisturizer, facial cleanser, facial treatments, skin fading and lightening products, anti-aging products, eye makeup remover, concealer, makeup remover, around eye cream, acne treatment, shampoo, conditioner, styling lotion and gel, styling mousse and foam, hair spray, hair relaxer, tanning oil and sunscreen, after tanning products, body cleanser and wash, body exfoliants, body firming lotion, baby soap, baby lotion, baby wipes, baby bubble bath, pain and wound products, hand sanitizer.

Sodium Nitrite
Makes meat look red rather than gray, and gives meat an overly long shelf life of months. Clinically proven to cause leukemia, brain tumors and other forms of cancer.

Contains several naturally occurring compounds that are toxic to humans and animals. Soy foods block calcium and can cause vitamin D deficiencies. One health agency estimates than 100 grams of soy protein provides the estrogenic equivalent of the pill. Processing and all modern soy foods contain MSG, which cause neurological problems. Soy products inhibit thyroid function, which may lead to fatigue and mental issues. Infants on soy formula are vulnerable to developing autoimmune thyroid disease when exposed to high amounts of isoflavones over time. These Isoflavones have been found to have serious health effects, including infertility, thyroid disease or liver disease, on a number of mammals. Long term feeding with soy formulas inhibits thyroid peroxidase to such an extent that long term elevated thyroid stimulating hormone levels can also raise the risk of thyroid cancer. It is said that two glasses of soy milk a day over the course of a month contains enough of the chemical to change the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Only eat soy if it has been fermented: such as soy, misu and tamari and if it is labeled as organic or non-GMO. See our Genetically Modified Foods section for more information

SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate)
Builds up in heart, lungs, brain and liver from skin contact and may cause damage to these organs. Corrodes hair follicles and may cause hair to fall out. Damages immune system. Contain endocrine disruptors and estrogen mimics. Impairs proper structural formation of young eyes. May contain carcinogenic nitrosamines. This is a detergent derived from coconut oil and may be labeled natural or even organic. Found in toothpaste, soap, shampoo, body wash, bubble bath, facial cleansers.

SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate)
Ether mixtures may contain carcinogenic nitrosamines. Avoid ethoxylated compounds as a precaution. May form 1.4 dioxane, a potential carcinogen, endocrine disruptor and estrogen mimic. Allows other chemicals to penetrate skin more deeply and enter bloodstream. May cause hair loss when applied to scalp. Found in shampoo, toothpaste, bubble bath, body wash, soap.

Stearalkonium Chloride
Toxic and causes allergic reactions. Used in hair conditioners.

Can cause reactions in asthmatics, and lead to death. Sulphites are now banned on all foods except raw potatoes, wine and dried fruit.

Carcinogenic when inhaled, may result in fallopian tube fibrosis. Found in blush, condoms, baby powder, feminine powders, foot and body powders.

At one time in most vaccines for children. Still believed to be in many vaccines. This form of organic mercury, functions as a preservative. It is highly toxic as it metabolizes into methylmercury.

TEA: Tea, Triethanolamine
TEA causes allergic reactions including eye problems, dryness of hair and skin, and could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects (although still in use in the U.S.)

Repeated skin applications of DEA-based detergents resulted in a major increase in the incidence of liver and kidney cancer. Found in shampoos, skin cream, bubble bath, shaving gel, conditioner, lotions.

Poison to humans. Hallucinations, bone marrow changes, may cause liver and kidney damage and birth defects, endocrine disruptor and potential carcinogen linked to brain cancer. Irritates respiratory tract. Found in nail polish and cleaning products.

Found in a lot of antimicrobial soaps and toothpaste products, it can react with chlorine in the tap water to create Chloroform. This is a toxic chemical that can give you cancer. If you breathe enough chloroform, you will die. When you wash your hands with antibacterial soap that contains Triclosan, you are getting the fumes emitted from this chemical reaction.

Vinyl chloride
Used to create PVC (polyvinyl chloride) a known carcinogen. Often found in toys. Children chewing on toys can release toxins into their bodies. * see PVC

Zinc Stearate
Carcinogen. Found in blush and powder foundation


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