Preliminary research by a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) team has shown that zinc oxide, a chemical commonly found in consumer products, may potentially cause cancer. The researchers were studying if certain materials can be harmful when they turn into nano-sized particles. This is because nanomaterials usually have very different properties, when compared to materials of a larger size.
The next time you use hair products or make-up, you may have to check if the ingredients contain zinc oxide, often found in sunscreen and other consumer products because of its ability to absorb UV light. Researchers found that when this chemical is turned into nano-sized particles, it’s able to enter human cells and may even damage human DNA. When in contact with cells that lack a tumour suppressor protein, cancerous cells may develop. Assistant Professor Joachim Loo, from NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, said: “This is a concern because these cells will continue to grow and proliferate, to cause what you call a tumour or a cancer.” But researchers said the study is still in its early stages, so consumers should not be alarmed. Assistant Professor Ng Kee Woei from NTU’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, said: “It doesn’t mean that if you use a certain product that contains zinc oxide, that you can actually get cancer. This is a preliminary study on cell cultures. The next step is to show the same thing happens in animals before we can actually consider whether the same effects can be shown in humans.” The team said the research is important because it may mean that companies have to reassess the health impact of nano-sized zinc oxide particles used in everyday products.
Currently, there are no regulatory guidelines to control how nanomaterials are being used in consumer products. In the future, the research team plans to design safer nanomaterials that can be used in consumer products. They’re also working with regulatory bodies to define what the safe scope is to use nanomaterials. In response, the Health Sciences Authority told Channel NewsAsia that it is monitoring the use of nanomaterials in cosmetic products and will take into consideration scientific developments in this area. To-date, it said it has not received any adverse reports related to the use of cosmetic products containing nanoparticle ingredients.
Don’t use zinc oxide alone as many lifeguards have been known to do. The best sunscreen is La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Lait SPF along with La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL tinted creme for the face as far as I am concerned.
Check out http://www.skincancer.org/ for the latest facts regarding skin cancer prevention and safety.