If the average person were to review the ingredients of just a small sample of cosmetics from a drugstore shelf, they would likely notice a recurring pattern of certain unfamiliar chemical names. One such common chemical cosmetic ingredient is triethanolamine.
Triethanolamine is used as an emulsifier and surfactant in everything from hand cleaners and cosmetics to paints and printing inks. It is a relatively cheap ingredient that has been known to cause allergic reactions including dermatitis.
But the overuse of potentially dangerous chemicals has earned the attention of researchers. In fact, “The National Cancer Institute nominated triethanolamine for study because of its widespread use in cosmetics and other consumer products, its high potential for worker exposure due to its many industrial uses, and its potential for conversion to the carcinogen N-nitrosodiethanolamine.”(1)
From rat research, it was determined that “The incidences of hepatocellular adenoma and hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma (combined) were significantly increased in all dosed groups of females.” and “The incidence of hemangiosarcoma of the liver in 630 mg/kg males was marginally increased. The incidences of eosinophilic focus in all dosed groups of mice were greater than those in the vehicle controls.” The mice also showed skin lesions that increased in severity with increasing applications.(1)
Thus, we may conclude from the study that Triethanolamine is potentially carcinogenic as well as a possible skin irritant in humans.
It is recommended that the consumer research the ingredients of their favorite moisturizers and cosmetics and avoid products that are still using triethanolamine.
(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15213765 NTP toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of triethanolamine (Cas No. 102-71-6) in B6C3F1 mice (dermal studies).
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