Potentially cancer causing agents in Johnson & Johnson products?

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Reports claim that Johnson & Johnson baby products contain cancer causing ingredients. Read on to find out what is being done about the issue.

No more tears—but should we fear? Absolutely not. Chemophobes were up in arms when a report circulated that Johnson Baby Shampoo contained cancer causing ingredients.

Are Johnson & Johnson products cancer causing?

In March 2009, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported that Johnson’s Baby Shampoo contained potentially harmful chemicals 1,4-dioxane and quaternium-15.

1,4-dioxane, which is a by-product of a process that makes ingredients mild on skin (hence, the “no more tears” formulation), has been linked to cancer in animal research, while quaternium-15 releases formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen and an eye, skin and respiratory irritant.

For over two and a half years since releasing the report, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics rallied consumers into boycotting the product unless Johnson & Johnson removed the cancer-causing chemicals.

Is Johnson & Johnson making safer products now?

Responding to consumer pressure, in 2012 Johnson & Johnson promised to remove the harmful chemicals from its line of baby products by the end of 2013. By January 2014, the company claimed to have successfully accomplished this goal, according to a report by The New York Times.

In addition, Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove both chemicals from all of its consumer products 2015. The company also expressed its plans to remove parabens, a type of preservative, from their baby line, as well as other harmful substances like phthalates and triclosan from their adult line.

Johnson & Johnson products in Singapore

A spokesperson from the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) revealed that 1,4-dioxane is prohibited to be used as an ingredient in cosmetics under the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.

As for quaternium-15, it has been reported that the HSA is “closely monitoring” safety data concerning this chemical commonly found in cosmetic products in Singapore.

However, it should be noted that the concentration of quaternium-15 in the shampoo is within the maximum authorized concentration, which is 0.2% as stated under the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

The HSA spokesperson added: “To date, there are no adverse reports relating to quaternium-15 in cosmetic products in Singapore. The Health Sciences Authority will continue to monitor closely any new safety data in collaboration with our overseas benchmark regulatory counterparts and will take appropriate action and inform the public where necessary.”

cancer causing agents

Johnson & Johnson baby products purchased in Singapore

Identifying potentially harmful substances in baby products

Let’s face it – it’s hard to decipher what’s on the ingredients list of products we buy, so more often than not, most of us don’t take the time to read the label.

Moreover, if we do bother to read the label, we won’t see the exact keywords to watch out for. That’s because they’ll be labelled using scientific names. For instance, the word “formaldehyde” is masked under the ingredient name of DMDM hydantoin or bronopol.

But if we really want to use the safest possible products on our children, then it’s important to arm ourselves with the necessary info. Here’s a list of potentially harmful substances to watch out for in baby care products:

  • Bronopol, also known as 2-Bromo-2 Nitropropane-1,3 Diol
  • D&C Colorings
  • DMDM Hydantoin (releases formaldehyde)
  • Ethylene Oxide
  • FD&C Colorings
  • Fragrance
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI and MCl)
  • Mineral Oil
  • Oxybenzone
  • Paraben (often with a prefix, like Ethylparaben)
  • Phthalates
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Retinyl Palmitate
  • Talc
  • Triclosan
  • Triethanolamine (TEA)

We suggest visiting the Cosmetics Database website to check out the products that you’re using currently to see how safe they are.

Watch the video below about cancer causing substances in baby products and find out which brands to look out for:


Also read: A cure for cancer through breastmilk