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Are Promises of more volume, shine, and botanical extracts luring you in as you browse the shampoo aisle? Well you may want to turn your attention to the tiny ingredients lists on the bottles as you shop to make sure you’re not choosing a product that will have you showering yourself in a carcinogenic chemical every day.

According to a new report from the Center for Environmental Health, dozens of shampoos, soaps, and other personal care products the nonprofit group tested contained cocamide diethanolamine, otherwise known as cocamide DEA. The basis of the chemical—coconut oil—seems innocent enough. But scientists tinker with the ingredient, modifying it into an unnatural, toxic form.

The kicker? The change is not even necessary. The chemical is usually added as a thickening and foaming agent.

California listed cocamide DEA as a known carcionogen in 2012 under its Prop 65 law, which requires warning labels on consumer products containing carcinogens or reproductive toxicants.

The Center for Environmental Health recently filed a California lawsuit against four companies that sell shampoo and personal care products containing the toxic chemical without a warning label. The group detected cocamide DEA in shampoo ingredients sold in stores like Walmart, Target, Babies ‘R’ Us, and other major national retailers. Some name brands contained the carcinogen, as did store brands sold at Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Pharmaca, and Kohl’s, according to the nonprofit. “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,” said Michael Green, executive director of the Center for Environmental Health. “We expect companies to take swift action to end this unnecessary risk to our children’s and families’ health.”

Some other things uncovered through the center’s independent testing:• A store brand children’s bubble bath from Kmart and a children’s shampoo and conditioner from Babies ‘R’ Us also contained cocamide DEA.• Falsely labeled organic products from Organic by Africa’s Best also tested for high levels of the cancer-causing chemical• One shampoo tested contained a whopping 20 percent cocamide

Switch to all natural, organic and read your labels! If you can’t pronounce it, and you don’t know what it is, chances are it could harm your health, our planet and an animal in the testing.

Resource: Rodale News, Health Section. Published on: September 6, 2013Updated on: September 9, 2013

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