(NaturalNews) If you use store-bought, conventionally-formulated shampoos, conditioners, body washes and other similar personal care products on a regular basis, you could be exposing yourself to high doses of a cancer-causing chemical that few people are even aware exists. The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) recently published the findings of an independent study it conducted which found that 98 tested shampoos, soaps and other personal care products contained high levels of cocamide diethanolamine (cocamide DEA), a hidden foaming and thickening agent that is a known carcinogen.
Most NaturalNews readers are probably already familiar with some of the other more well-known chemical culprits found in personal care products, which include things like petroleum-based parabens or sodium lauryl sulfate, for instance. Many companies have already voluntarily phased these and other "big name" chemicals out of their products to meet growing demand for clean, toxin-free products. But there are still a number of other harmful chemicals out there like cocamide DEA that continue to be used in prominent personal care product brands, including some that are marketed as "natural" and organic.
Perhaps not surprisingly, several large corporate brands, including Colgate Palmolive and Paul Mitchell, were identified in the study as manufacturing products that contain cocamide DEA. Other brands that might come as more of a surprise include a lemon-scented kitchen hand wash sold by Trader Joe's and a ginger shampoo made by a company known as "Organix." Other implicated brands include American Crew, Palmolive, Equate (Walmart), At One With Nature, Simple Pleasures and Moroccanoil.
Companies still selling products with cocamide DEA in California are breaking the law
While labeling that indicates the presence of DEA is obviously required on personal care products, labeling that indicates levels of the chemical is not. This is problematic, especially in California where a law passed last year prohibits the chemical from being added to any products sold in the state beginning in June 2013. This ban came after the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that cocamide DEA can cause cancer in mammals.
"Most people believe that products sold in major stores are tested for safety, but consumers need to know that they could be doused with a cancer-causing chemical every time they shower or shampoo," says Michael Green, executive director of CEH, about the new findings. "We expect companies to take swift action to end this unnecessary risk to our children's and families' health."
CEH recently sent letters to the nearly 100 companies it identified as still selling products that contain cocamide DEA, notifying them that their continued use of the chemical is a violation of California's Proposition 65, which pertains to cancer-causing chemicals. CEH has also reportedly filed lawsuits against Walgreens, Lake Consumer Products, Vogue International and Ultimark Products due to the presence of cocamide DEA in their products, with eventual plans to file lawsuits against the other 94 involved companies in the coming weeks and months.
"I don't think anybody wants to add one more thing to the list of cancer-causing chemicals that we're exposed to," says Caroline Cox, research director at CEH, as quoted by the San Francisco Gate. "There's lots of ways to make shampoo without it. This is one we don't really need."