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Inside the Cosmetics

Previously I have blogged on the ills of some water and the dangers of a toothpaste. This blog is about cosmetics.

Currently, no law requires that any cosmetic products or ingredients, except for color additives, have FDA approval. This brings up the issue of “when is regulation good?”. If you are a business, then the answer might be a resounding never, unless it’s regulation of a competitor. As a consumer, regulations may be the seat belt of a runaway industry.

The last time that Congress enacted regulations for personal care products like shampoo and cosmetics, it was around the start of World War II. So if you do the quick math, it’s been almost 80 years since, while businesses keep making products that we use on our skin.

We don’t just stick our face in a Number 9 Washtub now. I use all kinds of products, shampoos and moisturizers and I still have Summer hair. Some are here and some are gone… Boom!

Skin is known to quickly absorb chemicals and certain ingredients that have been linked to cancer, a breakdown of immune systems, and even reproductive disorders.

If a shampoo causes your hair to fall out… there is no government agency that is regulating it for recall. This happened with hair products under the Wen brand.

A company called Beautycounter evaluated skin and beauty products and determined that there are more that 1500 chemicals lurking in these cosmetics that could be classified as harmful to us, or have already been linked to cancer. Their website is right here if you want to do some reading on their evaluations. They also sell products that they consider as safe, so it’s OK if your antennae goes up about whether they have an agenda.

On their site, they have a NEVER LIST that identifies products that can be found in these cosmetics that include formaldehyde, the synthetic antioxidnats of BHA and BHT as well as the skin-lightening chemical hydroquinone.

Organizations began lobbying Congress to do something about safety of these products instead of just turning a blind eye. In 2014, the Personal Care Products Safety Act was introduced. It would give the FDA the authority to test ingredients and issue mandatory recalls for unsafe products. There will be more debate on this bill but it does appear to be getting bipartisan support to indicate that some form of the bill will pass into law next year.

For now, independent companies like Mary Kay as well as the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors are opposing the bill. To give you a look into the bill as an example, the legislation would only require that the FDA test five products a year. Ironically, there are laws in European countries that have banned or restricted more than a thousand ingredients that had, at one time, been put into cosmetics.

Here is more on the Safety Act that was introduced. Here is the counter argument for why the bill should be introduced. (Change.org) For an unbiased opinion, where is that unicorn when you need it?

 

And for pic o’ day, when dogs watch scary movies!

 

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Big Gulp of Metal

Hexavalent chromium! Does that make your eyes gloss over. Not really “click bait” to make you excited to read.

I’m not sure that this story will make you tell the waitress that you would like to order two chickens and a coke, but it may cause you to say “no thanks” when she asks you if you would like a glass of water.

A report released by an environmental research group found concentrations of hexavalent chromium in the public drinking water systems of 200 million Americans. This includes the utilities that serve Richmond, Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Hexavalent chromium found in the water is a metal that is known to cause cancer in laboratory rats and mice. The metal is known to be associated with industrial pollution from  such things as steelmaking, chrome-plating, coal ash, paints, inks and plastics.

It is considered a carcinogen when inhaled. This is also the chemical made famous in the movie Erin Brockovich, because as a paralegal she worked on these kinds of claims. You just don’t expect to see it in “our water”.

It’s a fair question to ask why there isn’t more concern over the drinking water. The government (Environmental Protection Agency) tells us not to worry. This contaminant is considered well below the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level for total chromium of 100 parts per billion.

That’s just some defined general amount. That’s code for “we’re fine”. Here’s the kicker: For drinking water, the EPA has no maximum contaminant level for this metal.  Does that make you feel better? Me… not so much. It makes me think twice about ordering a glass of water at a restaurant.

As far as I know, unless you are a superhero or the Tin Man, I can’t figure out any good to the concept of having a glass of metal with my meal.

And for pic o’ day:

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Colgate or Soap?

This is a blog about a special ingredient in Colgate toothpaste. Or, more accurately, how can a chemical that is banned from soap still be allowed in toothpaste? (NY Times) (Pharmacist.com)

The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will finally ban the use of triclosan in antibacterial soaps. Why? Because it is considered a toxic chemical associated with hormone disruption in people. Not so good.

I wish that was the end of the blog. That I could say that the FDA is making hand soaps safer. But wait, there’s more! Much like what you get if you buy the Pocket Fisherman. They’ll throw in the Ginzu Knife and two Shamwow cloths.

The FDA gave companies one year to get hand soaps containing Triclosan off the market, and banned 18 other antibacterial ingredients that were allowed in soaps. Our hands are safer.

But here’s the crazy part. This same Triclosan is still allowed in Colgate Total toothpaste.  That’s because Colgate-Palmolive has convinced the FDA that toothpastes that contains triclosan have been “demonstrated to be effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis”.

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This, despite the fact that Rolf Halden, a director for environmental security at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, believes that triclosan  in only a small amount of chemicals, gets absorbed into our body when soap is put on hands, but through gums “chemicals get rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.” In his words… toothpaste makes it much more dangerous.

So, I have attached the articles above. The FDA is open to receiving more information on this chemical. For now, it seems to me that you are actually safer brushing your teeth with an antibacterial soap than this toothpaste. But that’s just my “toof cents” worth.

And for pic o’ day, this made me laugh since I’m a “pillow person”.

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A Document Worth

What is it worth? Documents detailing some of the original “Laws of Base Ball” sold for $3.26 million on early Sunday morning, It set a new record for the highest-priced baseball document. (ESPN)  .

The same auction house in charge of this sale also noted that a 1920 New York Yankees’ Babe Ruth jersey sold in an auction for $4.4 million in 2012. That same year,  the Naismith Rules of Basketball sold for $4.3 million.

According to the ESPN article, The original rules of baseball, as written by Daniel Lucius “Doc” Adams, stipulated that the ball could not weigh less than 5¾ ounces, and the bat could be of any length; but no more than 2½ inches at its widest part. The rules also stated that there would be four bases, 30 yards apart, with each base being one square foot.

I always believe that auction items make for a good jury argument, when discussing an injury case. If we put such value on a document and paper, what is the worth of a permanent injury to a leg that causes a lifetime of pain, or a lifetime of worry.

What is it worth to be able to put on an outfit and feel so good… that you don’t even have to look in the mirror?  No scars or pain. Just to feel happy. Emotional value! What is the worth of not having to worry about making that next house payment? Real life values.  Just a thought!

And for pic o’ day…

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What is Really Important?

During the reign of Louis XIV King of France, it was considered bad manners to knock on a person’s door with your knuckles. Instead, good etiquette dictated that you scratch with the little finger of your left hand. For that reason, courtiers would let the little fingernail on their left hand grow long. Maybe they got tired waiting outside the door in the cold… while they scratched!

American businessman King Camp Gillette spent eight years trying to invent and introduce his safety razor. After founding Gillette Safety Razor Company in 1902 he started to manufacture and sell. In 1903 he had a start that seemed to indicate failure. He sold a total of 51 razors and 168 blades. The second year… 90,884 razors and 123,648 blades. His vision for a successful disposable razor company was looking up! The importance of a disposable razor was now realized by the public.

Robert E. Lee was not a slaveholder. In fact, he never believed in slavery. He was very hopeful that Virginia would not seceded from the United States and took a strong position against it. What motivated him to be the Commanding General of the Confederacy was his love for Virginia and that he didn’t want to see anything bad happen to it. At the conclusion of the war, he announced that “I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished”. Losing the war did not hurt his reputation. He has been called America’s greatest soldier. He knew what was important to him.

People are now talking about going to Mars. According to the Mars One project, over 100,000 people have already applied. While there are private enterprises working toward trips to Mars, NASA is charting a possible government trip to Mars. There are four women astronauts who are currently training to be considered for the mission. (Glamour.com)

The Government mission is estimated to be about 15 years away from takeoff. It will take that long to build and test the equipment. Radiation exposure is still a major obstacle, among many others.

The shortest route to Mars from here is 35 million miles of travel. With current estimates, it would take somewhere between six to nine months for travel one way; And if you plan a round trip, it’s about two to three years.

When NASA initially announced that they were taking applicants for training for a potential Mars trip, 6100 applied. I guess if you are a parent or married, you turn to your family and tell them that you are pursuing your Mars dream… and everything will work out. Time flies when your having fun? Decisions have intended and unintended consequences.

I have listed these various news items and stories over the years. Depending upon the time period creates the importance of the event. Then, the next generation comes along and what seemed important before is replaced by current importance.

On a daily basis, I see clients who are going through difficult times and hardships. A crash that changes lives in a moment.

One thing that I have learned through my years of the practice of law is that nothing else really matters… if you don’t have your health. As Steven Adler said, “You can have all the riches and success in the world, but if you don’t have health, you have nothing”.  You really don’t care about trips to Mars or how loud someone might be knocking at the door.

And for pic o’ day, I have a couple that show “importance”:

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OxyContin in Kentucky

In a story that sounds more like, “We thought you were making a pain pill… not heroin”,  The makers of OxyContin have agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the Kentucky Attorney General, that claimed that Purdue Pharma had misled the public about their powerfully addictive drug. (InsuranceJournal.com)

The lawsuit was filed by the state of Kentucky back in 2007. It alleged that Purdue Pharma was “marketing the prescription painkiller as not addictive because it was a pill that, when swallowed, slowly released the drug over 12 hours.” However, users soon discovered that it was as addictive as heroin.

The state of Kentucky claimed that medical costs across the state began to rise because of the effects to those that were now addicted to the drug. This particularly became a problem in the eastern part of the state where injured coal miners were regularly prescribed the medication. So, the Kentucky Attorney General filed suit.

In response to the lawsuit, Purdue Pharma agreed to take that form of OxyContin off the market, and replaced it with a newer 2010 version, where it claims that such issues have been resolved.

The manufacturer of the drug will also pay $24 million to the state of Kentucky over the next eight years. That’s to be used to assist with addiction programs within the state.

Of course, here’s the part that probably is no surprise to you. In entering into the settlement, Purdue Pharma admitted no wrongdoing. And I conclude the blog with what the company spokesman said in the news release about the settlement:

The company entered into the settlement to allow it to “focus on bringing innovative abuse-deterrent medicines to patients and our other efforts to combat prescription drug abuse and overuse”. (shaking head!)

And for pic o’ day, this just seemed to be down that same “responsibility alley”:

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The Energy of Drinks?

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It’s not unusual to see a person with a cup of coffee in the morning. Some stop at a nearby 7-Eleven for their Big Gulp Diet Coke. And then, there are those who make sure that they have their morning “Energy Drink”.

Mayo Clinic researcher Anna Svatikova and her colleagues decided to recruit 25 volunteers for a study to determine what happens to your body after consuming one of these drinks. The story is told here in the Washington Post. The title of the article is a clue to their finds: Here’s what happens to your body after you down an energy drink. It’s kind of scary.

The study was initiated after reports of people  having heart attacks after drinking one of the above pictured drinks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly considering whether there are health risks that are connected to these caffeine-spiked energy drinks.

There have been several reported deaths following the consumption of these drinks. For instance, in Maryland, 14-year-old Anais Fournier died after consuming two 24-ounce cans of an energy drink. She had no health issues to cause a heart attack.

The researchers began with a group that was comprised of young adults who were considered healthy, not taking medications and were in the age range of 18-years-old or older.

They were asked to drink a 16-ounce can of Rockstar energy drink. The drink contained 240 mg of caffeine, 2000 mg of taurine, extracts of guarana seed, ginseng root and milk thistle. To compare the results, at a different time this same group was also given a placebo to drink. It also tasted like the energy drink without those ingredients.

Their findings were reported in The Journal of the American Medical Association in an article titled A Randomized Trial of Cardiovascular Responses to Energy Drink Consumption in Healthy Adults. (Article Here)

As part of the research, participants were exposed to two minute physical, mental and cold stressors after consuming the energy drinks. The researchers then measured their blood pressure and other body measurements. They concluded, among other things, that drinking one single energy drink may predispose a person to a cardiovascular risk.

Right now, the FDA has no requirement regarding what must be on the outside of these drinks at point of sale. However, in the United States, many energy drink manufacturers voluntarily label their drinks with total caffeine content, and advisory statements that state that their products are not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women.

I am sure we will hear much more on these findings in the coming weeks.

I hope have a great weekend. For pic o’ day, how do you like this “toothpaste test”?

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Lawsuit for Bad Packaging

The title of the article from NJ.com grabs your attention: Birth control packaging error leads to lawsuit by surprised moms, report says.

Over 100 women have filed suit against Pharmaceutical company Qualitest Inc., seeking damages that include the costs of raising children who were born in unplanned pregnancies. The lawsuit claims that women became pregnant because of mislabeling on the birth control packaging.

It’s a brief news story attached, but the comments are truly worth reading. I suspect that you can guess what gets readers fired up. Of course there’s the old, “people will file suit over anything, instead of being happy” comment. While others are outraged at yet another pharmaceutical mistake.

Just gives you something to think about in the Friday blog in the “unusual lawsuit department”! I feel like I should be hearing, “I’ll take unique lawsuits for $200, Alex”.

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The Smoking Admission

It’s that time of year when we all start to take personal assessment. Then, we put our new year resolutions together. Then, we smile. Yes, then despite my desire to drop a few pounds, I will still reach for the bread brought to the table.

The same cycle of goal/failure occurs to smokers. Overwhelming evidence of the harms of smoking only cause it to be part of the resolutions list in the first place. Still, the history of the harms through the eyes of tobacco companies are more of a failure than the failed resolution list.

Here is some history:

A  Johns Hopkins researcher reports in 1938 that smokers do not live as long as nonsmokers. Six years later, the American Society for the Control of Cancer warns that smoking might pose dangers but said “no definite evidence exists” that it caused lung cancer.

In 1964, the U.S. surgeon general, Luther L. Terry, issues a landmark report linking smoking and cancer. That sets in motion  measures that deeply cut into smoking rates. This is unfortunate for Big Tobacco because it cuts into tobacco’s profits and influence.

The first effect is with Congress passing laws that require health warnings on cigarette packages. Then, later banning cigarette advertising on radio and TV. Then,  more regulations and restrictions on Big Tobacco.

Despite the previous findings, Big Tobacco routinely defeated lawsuits brought by smokers (and families of deceased smokers) Still, lawsuits were placing heavy attention on the ill effects of smoking. Lung cancer had once been a rare disease. Now, it was effecting millions globally at an alarming rate.

In 1998, Tobacco companies agreed to pay $206 billion to settle a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of 46 states, who were seeking compensation for costs to the public related to smoking-related illnesses.

1997 was the first time that Big Tobacco admitted causing cancer. It is estimated that in 2015, there will be about 6 million deaths from past smoking. In addition a recent study shows that smoking causes men to lose their Y chromosome. That is the explanation for why it causes cancer. Tough to get an admission of wrongdoing.

And for pic o’ day, I was looking for a Christmas picture and got sidetracked with this celebration:

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How About the Sweeteners?

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. The staff was off on Friday, except for our intake staff. That means that everyone seems to have a bit of the look of “Do I have to?” this morning. Time to get back full steam.

For this morning’s attorney meeting, I will be giving a portion of one of my upcoming jury trial openings. I also have to admit that I am feeling that same feeling. However, routine is a good thing. At least that’s what they say! And yes, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving. So now, we are on the home stretch for the end of the year.

So, for my first blog of the month that happens to fall on a Monday, I thought I would have a bit of food and safety. Maybe in the case of Splenda “Made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar” is worth considering, when it comes to safety of the product.

On Friday morning, I was sitting with my parents at Cracker Barrel restaurant. My mother was watching me put Splenda sweetner in my ice tea. That’s when she said, “You know that is not good for you!”.

Actually, I thought it was the best of the sweetners… and maybe it is. This article from Huffington Post says that the main ingredient, sucrose, is FDA approved as safe for your health but it can cause a spike in insulin. That can effect risks of diabetes and also cause weight gain.

As a counter to that, here is an article that says that all the artificial sweeteners have some health benefits and health concerns. (Mayo Clinic)

To support the “bad-for-your-health” claim, she emailed this from Facebook.

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     When I received this, it made me do some quick research. See, I am getting back into it. No more Turkey laziness.

Snopes.com says that Splenda is safe and has been adequately tested. So, my conclusion… (Jeopardy song”) I still don’t know whether to use it or not. It’s starting to feel a bit political.

Maybe I will give Truvia sweetener a try. I know… that’s a lot of thinking for a Monday!  Sometimes, it’s all about guarding the sweets. This GIF cracks me up.

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