A cancer-causing agent sometime found in bacon and some other cured meats is also turning up in large amounts in shampoos, lotions and cosmetics, a scientist told Congress yesterday.
Dr. David Fine, head of cancer research for the Thermo Electron Corp., at Waltham, Mass., said however that the amount of the substance which might be absorbed through the skin of persons using cosmetics products is still unknown.
The cancer-causing agent involved is a nitrosamine, the same substance that was caused a government review of cured meats. Fine said the amount of one particular type of nitrosamine called Ndela showing up in cosmetics is 50 to 100 times what the human exposure would be through food.
"Ndela is of concern because it has been shown to cause cancer in two animal species, rats and hamsters," he told the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "In a German study dating back to the mid-60s rats were fed high doses of Ndela, and liver tumors were produced.
"A recent study . . . has shown that if hamsters were injected with Nedela under the skin, tumors were produced at sites far removed from the point of injection . . ." he added. "In cosmetics, human exposure to ndela would be by absorption through the skin. However, the amount of ndela absorbed by the skin is unknown.
James Merritt, president of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, testified that the industry has organized a program to refine and improve the detection methodology and to analyze common cosmetic incredients to determine the source of any nitrosamine containation."
He said the industry group, which represents producers turning out 90 per cent of the cosmetics sold in this country, "recognizes that notrosamines serve no function in cosmetics and is committed to eliminate them or reducing them to the lowest level feasible."
"Nitrosamines do, of course, occur naturally in the human body and throughout our environment, and are found in air, water and many consumer products," he added.
The testimony came in the second session of hearings into cancer-causing substances. Testimony on Monday from the National Cancer Institute said that six ingredients found in both permanent and temporary hair dyes have been shown to cause cancer in test animals.