Toiletry chain email whips up lather

DUBAI - A new paranoia is spreading among Internet users. People all over the region are receiving chain mails telling them that their shampoo, soap, handwash, shower gel, toothpaste and other such items contain deadly cancer-causing chemicals.

By Aakanksha Singh

Published: Sat 2 Aug 2008, 1:59 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 4:59 PM

Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) are commonly used ingredients in personal care products for their foaming properties.

It has become common to receive chain emails stating that these two chemicals are carcinogens or cancer-causing agents.

Several blogs and web sites also repeat the same opinion.

Pooja Shah, a housewife living in Dubai, was one of the people who received the email. She said that she was so worried by the email that she stopped using products containing SLS or SLES for sometime.

Some others who also received the emails and are worried are approaching dermatologists and shampoo companies to clear their doubts.

Jagadeesh Manghat, sales manager of L'Oreal for the Middle East, said, "Yes, we have faced this issue at times. Customers have called up to enquire about SLS but we have always told them the truth. Other than that, we have faced no issues from retailers and no complaints from people who use L'Oreal shampoos."

According to Dr Rolf Soehnchen, a dermatologist at the American Hospital Dubai, International Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and member of the European Academy of Dermatology, "During my entire practice here in Dubai and in Europe, I have never seen a single case of cancer being caused by SLS. People should not believe the rumours."

The fact is that SLS and SLES are not included in any creditable list of known carcinogens.

The American Cancer Society declared such mails as hoaxes as far back as 1998.

No ban on shampoos

Even more alarming is the recent addition to this hoax email. It gives a list of highly popular shampoo brands and states that they have been officially banned by the Dubai Government. The mail even includes the logo of the Dubai Government.

Although Dubai Government officials were currently unavailable for comment, they have previously declared this mail to be a hoax. No such shampoos have been banned by the Dubai Government.

Pooja Shah admits that after a while, she received more accurate information on the issue from one of her relatives and has stopped believing what the email said. However, after this episode, she remains concerned about exactly what is going into the products she uses. There are several other people who are not as lucky and still believe in the warning in the e-mail.

Companies taking advantage of the hoax to advertise their "SLS-free products" seem to be the only people benefiting from the rumours.

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