Petrolatum, commonly known as petroleum jelly, is a byproduct of petroleum. Petrolatum is a soft paraffin or wax mixture sold as a topical skin ointment. It is acknowledged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an approved over-the-counter skin protectant and is used in the manufacturing of cosmetic skin care. However the side effects of petrolatum include finding the petroleum byproduct in breast tumors, suffocation of the skin, premature aging and aggravated acne.
Petrolatum Found In Breast Tumors
A study linking the petrolatum impurity polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs to breast cancer was completed at Columbia University. The study indicates that breast tissue of women with breast cancer were 2.6 times more likely to have increased amounts of PAHs attached to their DNA than the breast tissue of women without breast cancer. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are found in oil, coal and tar deposits as byproducts of fuel burning. Researchers June K.Dunnick, Michael R.Elwell, James Huff and J.Carl Barrett of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC also found that PAHs were found in the mutated genes of test animals with mammary gland cancer.
Petrolatum May Suffocate the Skin
Research at the Herb Research Foundation noted that skin absorbs up to 60 percent of the chemicals in products that it contacts and these chemical move directly into the bloodstream. The Organic Make-up company notes that the petrolatum developed for its cost effective glide in make-up application suffocates the skin by absorbing these chemicals directly into the bloodstream decreasing oxygen absorbed through the skin.
Petrolatum May Cause Premature Aging
As with many carcinogens such as nicotine, environmental pollution and chemical additives ingestion and absorption of these products can increase free radicals that can cause the skin and organs to age at a rapid rate or wear prematurely. Petrolatum found in many cosmetics can cause skin irritations and rashes. Skin that does not receive sufficient oxygen as noted in the Herb Research on skin suffocation can cause the death of skin cells and thus premature aging to skin cells.
Additional Effects from Petrolatum
Petrolatum or mineral oil jelly and mineral oils can cause skin photosensitivity or promote sun damage. Petrolatum may interfere with the body's moisturizing mechanism, leading to dry skin and chapping despite its cosmetic use as lip protection. According to the Environmental Working Group, petrolatum may be found in one of every 14 products as well as 15 percent of lipsticks and 40 percent of baby lotions and oils. The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency restricts petrolatum in food to 10 parts per million, and insists that petrolatum used in food packaging or drugs meet governmental standards on impurity restrictions for PAHs.
- Purdue Education: Product Matrix Petroleum
- The Organic Make Up Company: Petroleum and Cosmetics: What are the potential health risks? By OMC author
- Health Report Company, United Kingdom: Petrolatum
- The Environmental Working Group: The Ugly Face of our Cosmetics
- The Oxford Journal, vol 16: Chemically induced mammary gland cancer in the National Toxicology Program's carcinogenesis bioassay