Talking on the toxic metal content of lipsticks, Dr. Linda Loretz, chief toxicologist for the Personal Care Products Council said: "Food is a primary source for many of these naturally-present metals, and exposure from lip products is minimal in comparison."
With the increasing awareness of the ill effects of lead and other metals, women are becoming more concerned about the possible threat of cancer, caused due to the use of lipsticks. So, does lipstick really cause cancer? Well, let us find out.

Lipsticks are mostly harmless, however, the metal ingredients present in the product might raise the risk of cancer and other skin diseases, if the quantity is more. This fact, however, is not backed by any concrete evidence. The following information will help you to understand the effects of cosmetics on the skin.

Lipstick and Cancer Risk

What are the toxic metals found in lipsticks?

In the latest study conducted by the Berkeley's School of Public Health, University of California, researchers tested 32 different lipsticks, which are commonly available in the market. They found the presence of many toxic metals like lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum, etc. The concentration of these metals was high enough to raise an alarm. It was found that if these products were used for a long period of time, they might lead to excess exposure to various metals. Chromium, which is a carcinogen, may cause stomach cancer. Cadmium, which is another carcinogen, can be linked to lung cancer. Again, lead, which is one of the most commonly-found metals in lipsticks, is considered dangerous for the body.

Is lead the major concern in lipsticks?

Lead is one of the major metals found in lipsticks. In 2007, The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics carried out a study on 33 popular lipstick brands, and found their lead content to be higher than the standard amount. This raised may questions on the safety of lipsticks. But then, the FDA found that though the lead level was high, it was not high enough to be a safety concern. Though all the cosmetics come with the approval of FDA and no toxic metals or chemicals are allowed, safe lead levels have not been mentioned by the authorities.

While talking about the metal content in lipsticks, Dr. Ken Spaeth, Director of the Occupational and Environmental Medicine Center at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y said, "As a group, these metals pose a host of potential health risks, including damage to the brain and nerves, kidneys, as well as a variety of cancers".

Can lipstick cause lip cancer?

There is very little or no evidence to prove that lipsticks can cause lip cancer. Over-exposure to harsh rays of the sun can also cause this type of cancer. Studies have also shown that lip cancer is more common in men than in women; it may be because of the occupation-related sun exposure and higher consumption of tobacco and alcohol as compared to women, which only proves that lipstick is not the prime cause of lip cancer. In fact, doctors and dermatologists advise women to wear lipsticks that contain sunscreen, as they can protect the lips from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, and reduce the risk of lip cancer.

Who all should avoid wearing lipstick?

Lead content may be a concern for those who wear lipstick daily. It may not cause cancer, but it may raise the risk of other health problems. Children should not be allowed to use lipsticks, as it may affect their nervous system. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should also avoid using lipsticks, as ingesting these products, though in traces, may cause harm to the fetus.

The levels of metal present in lipstick alone cannot cause cancer, even if they are present in high concentration. Other factors that contribute to the increase in the metal content in the body, may increase the risk of cancer. Opt for lead-free lipsticks, and always go for renowned brands.