CHICAGO, IL, January 12, 2010
use of nanoparticles in personal
care products known as
cosmeceuticals poses a generally
unrecognized but major public
health hazard, warns the
Cancer Prevention Coalition.
"Nanoparticles, less than
1/10,000 of a millimeter in
size, readily penetrate skin,
and can invade underlying blood
vessels and produce body-wide
toxic effects, including brain
degenerative disorders, and
nerve damage," stresses CPC
Chairman Dr. Samuel S. Epstein.
Based on a January 6, 2010 Skin
Deep report by the Environmental
Working Group, at least 7 of 26
of Dr. Perricone skin products
were found to contain
nanoparticles, while a total of
25 contain a wide range of other
These include carcinogens such
as acrylamide, and carcinogenic
contaminants such as ethylene
oxide, dioxane, nitrosamines and
acrylamide, and formaldehyde,
Dr. Epstein emphasizes. They
also include allergens, and
toxic hormonal ingredients.
Accordingly, the Environmental
Working Group rated 25 of
Perricone's products as posing
"moderate to high hazards."
Yet, Dr. Nicholas Perricone
posted a full page ad on his
Cold Plasma product in the
December 26, 2009 New York Times
Magazine. The ad promised that
the product, "gives skin
everything it needs," and "works
better for skin than anything
else ever used."
Dr. Perricone's products, known
technically as "cosmeceuticals,"
promise to rejuvenate wrinkling
or sagging skin in aging women.
According to his website, Dr.
Perricone is noted for his
"holistic approach to aging,"
and developing a program that
"will enhance your life with
better overall health and
However, Dr. Epstein warns, "His
claims are baseless as they are
made in the absence of
scientific evidence based on
double-blind clinical trials."
In these, patients are randomly
assigned to groups which receive
either the test treatment or an
alternative untreated control.
Neither the patient, nor the
dermatologist conducting the
study, know whether the
treatment or the control has
been given to the patient until
the trial is completed. This is
the standard way of excluding
bias or frank misrepresentation.
As detailed in Dr. Epstein's
2009 book Toxic Beauty (BenBella
Books, 2009), Perricone's
website states, "Dr. Perricone
has developed a patented
technology excusive to this
line, called Fullerene.
Fullerenes are highly stable,
microscopic hollow spheres that
carry the active ingredients
into the skin. They bring the
intriguing and transformative
world of nanotechnology to the
fine art and science of high
performance skin care."
But these nanoparticles are
extremely dangerous and products
containing them should be
banned, demands Dr. Epstein.
Fullerenes, also known as
nanoparticles, have been
introduced without any labeling
into a growing number of Dr.
Perricone's anti-aging products,
particularly skin creams and
Ceramic Eye Smoother. These are
touted as reducing wrinkles and
firming up the skin surface.
"Not surprisingly," Dr. Epstein
says, "Dr. Perricone has failed
to endorse the California's 2007
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Act.
This requires cosmetic companies
to disclose all their toxic
ingredients on a public
In May 2006, the Friends of the
Earth, a global network of
grassroots groups in 77
countries, published a report "Nanomaterials,
Sunscreens and Cosmetics: Small
Ingredients, Big Risks." They
warned that it is time these
high risks products were taken
off the market. Two years later,
a British Royal Commission
report warned that products
containing nanoparticles, pose
especially high toxic risks.
In November 2009, Dr. Wickson, a
researcher with a European Union
project on consumer protection
laws, raised critical concerns
about nanoparticle products, and
accumulation, saying, "In
studies of toxicity and
exposure, it is crucial to take
into account the incredible
persistence of carbon nanotubes,
which represent one of the most
man-made materials currently
available." Dr. Wickson further
warned that the body's response
to nanoparticles is similar to
that of asbestos.
Although Dr. Perricone touts his
website as being the place where
"you can get the information and
inspiration you need to manage
your looks, your health, your
weight and your life," his
cosmeceuticals are deceptively
marketed as safe for the
consumer. Nothing could be
further from the truth.
Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. is
professor emeritus of
Environmental and Occupational
Medicine at the University of
Illinois at Chicago School of
Public Health; Chairman of the
Cancer Prevention Coalition; and
a former President of the Rachel
Carson Trust. His awards include
the 1989 Right Livelihood Award
and the 2005 Albert Schweitzer
Golden Grand Medal for
International Contributions to
Cancer Prevention. Dr. Epstein
has authored 270 scientific
articles, and 15 books on the
causes and prevention of cancer.
These include the groundbreaking
Politics of Cancer (1979), and
most recently Toxic Beauty
(2009, Benbella Books) about
carcinogens and other toxic
ingredients in cosmetics and
personal care products.
Samuel S. Epstein, MD
Professor emeritus Environmental
& Occupational Medicine
University of Illinois Chicago
School of Public Health
Chairman, Cancer Prevention
Chicago, Illinois 60612
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