Can lip balm and lip gloss cause cancer?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
What could be more harmless than a little shine on your rosy lips? Well, as it turns out, lots of things, because the shine in lip gloss comes from petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of oil drilling, and when you spread it on your lips, you end up eating it, which is essentially the same as drinking gasoline. Add up the amount of lip gloss the average woman uses (and consumes) over a decade, and it equals seven pounds. The European Union has banned many petroleum jelly products, and experts are concerned they could be linked to cancer. Women with breast cancer have twice the levels of hydrocarbons (substances found in petroleum jelly) in their breasts than women who haven't had breast cancer.

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You may have heard rumors about cancer-causing agents and acids in lip balms and glosses. But the misinformation could be founded in some similar speculation. It turns out some dermatologists do think that shiny lip glosses could be a cancer-causing culprit because they tend to make your lips more vulnerable to dangerous ultraviolet rays. And that increased vulnerability can put you at an increased risk for sunburn and skin cancer. To be safe, opt for balms and glosses that contain an SPF of 30 or higher

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.