Living well Your Health & Wellness

Is your toothpaste safe?

Written by Diane Archer

A new report and scorecard from the Cornucopia Institute finds that many toothpastes, including Colgate and Crest, contain all kinds of ingredients you might not want to be putting in your mouth. In our lifetimes, we will use about 20 gallons of toothpaste. Is your toothpaste safe?

Here’s the problem. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not overseeing the safety of toothpaste and many other personal care products that we consumer in and on our body every day. Rather, the cosmetics industry, with $71 billion in annual revenues, gets to self-regulate with very little oversight.

No U.S. government agency has the authority to approve a personal care product before it goes to market; the FDA does not even have the authority to recall a personal care product found to be harmful. Moreover, the manufacturers have no obligation to list all the ingredients in their products or report any harms to people from using their products. While most adults don’t consume toothpaste, toxic chemicals in our mouths can seep into our bloodstream; and, many kids do end up swallowing a bunch of toothpaste.

Canada, Japan and European countries do a far better job of banning harmful chemicals in personal care products than the U.S. We ban only 11 of the more than 12,000 chemicals used in personal care products. Europe bans more than 1,300 of them.

So, what should you beware of? Among other things, food dyes in toothpaste may contain toxic contaminants. Carrageenan, a food thickener, is also in many toothpastes. It is a GRAS, generally recognized as safe, chemical.  But, it has been found to cause intestinal inflammation and possibly cancer. DEA, diethanolamine, gives personal care products their creamy and sudsy feel. The European Union has deemed them harmful because they have been found to lead to liver cancer and other health risks over the long term. And, there’s more.

The Cornucopia gives its highest ratings to toothpaste brands most of us have never heard of that produce organic toothpaste. Keep in mind that toothpastes and others products labeled “natural” tells you absolutely nothing about whether they contain dangerous chemicals. Also, the American Dental Association’s seal of approval tells you nothing; indeed, the toothbrush and toothpaste manufacturers are big supporters.

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