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Estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activity of off-the-shelf hair and skin care products

Abstract

Use of personal care products is widespread in the United States but tends to be greater among African Americans than whites. Of special concern is the possible hazard of absorption of chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA) or anti-EA (AEA) in these products. Such exposure may have adverse health effects, especially when it occurs during developmental windows (e.g., prepubertally) when estrogen levels are low. We assessed the ethanol extracts of eight commonly used hair and skin products popular among African Americans for EA and AEA using a cell proliferation assay with the estrogen sensitive MCF-7:WS8 cell line derived from a human breast cancer. Four of the eight personal care products tested (Oil Hair Lotion, Extra-dry Skin Lotion, Intensive Skin Lotion, Petroleum Jelly) demonstrated detectable EA, whereas three (Placenta Hair Conditioner, Tea-Tree Hair Conditioner, Cocoa Butter Skin Cream) exhibited AEA. Our data indicate that hair and skin care products can have EA or AEA, and suggest that laboratory studies are warranted to investigate the in vivo activity of such products under chronic exposure conditions as well as epidemiologic studies to investigate potential adverse health effects that might be associated with use of such products.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Divisions of Intramural Research and the National Toxicology Program of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and by NIH grant 1R43/44 ES014806, 01-03 to C.Z.Y. This article may be the work product of an employee or group of employees of the NIH; however, the statements, opinions or conclusions contained therein do not necessarily represent the statements, opinions or conclusions of NIH or the United States government. We thank Aimee D’Aloisio, Elizabeth Maull, and Kyla Taylor who critically reviewed an earlier draft of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Donna D Baird.

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C.Z.Y. is employed by and owns stock in CertiChem (CCi). GDB owns stock in and is a consultant CEO of CCi. All authors had freedom to design, conduct, interpret, and publish research uncompromised by any controlling sponsor All other authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Myers, S., Yang, C., Bittner, G. et al. Estrogenic and anti-estrogenic activity of off-the-shelf hair and skin care products. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 25, 271–277 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2014.32

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Keywords

  • cosmetics
  • endocrine disruptors
  • estrogen receptor binding
  • estrogenic activity
  • anti-estrogenic activity
  • personal care products

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