Expert calls for greater clarity on lab testing

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: European union

The results of laboratory tests on cosmetic products are often
misguided and misinterpreted, says a research expert who believes
that greater emphasis should be given to more accurate ways of
interpreting genotoxicity and carcinogenicity.

Pinpointing the newly introduced California Cosmetics Act of 2005, which came in to being at the start of the year, and the FDA's current inquiry into skin whitening substance Hydroquinone, Nicole Dial, president of the San Diego-based skin research firm Noixia, says she is keen to ensure that cosmetics safety remains well regulated while emphasizing the importance of a balanced approach.

"Even though the debates seem to be about weeding out cancer causing agents in cosmetics, the core problem with determining cosmetic safety is laboratory testing,"​ said Dial.

"If you look at the evidence on both sides of the cosmetics safety debate between health activists and industry manufacturers, you have people arguing about how to design and interpret ingredient safety and carcinogenicity tests."

Dial emphasizes that, although she is an advocate of The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics - an organization that is fighting to ensure that US manufacturers meet stricter EU regulations, she believes that areas such as carcinongenicity testing need to have clearly determined guidelines for interpretation.

Indeed, Dial even points to the fact that in Europe the EU is currently revamping the guidelines for this kind of testing, stressing that, even though regulation there appears to be more advanced, there is still room for further improvement.

"This January the European Union Cosmetics Directive recognized a need to improve the way scientists conduct carcinogenicity tests,"​She went on to point out that in a recent report entitled Mutagenisis, the EU Cosmetics Directive points to an upsurge in studies concerning the molecular and cellular events that lead to cancer.

However, Dial also points out that in tandem with this, both the American Council of Science and Health and the EU Cosmetics Directive believe that there is a need for more accurate interpretation of such results with regards genotoxicity and carcinogenicity.

Dial believes that, as manufacturers are moving to identify the causes of cancer, scientists will soon start to determine 'pollution' in people through biospecimens such as blood and urine.

"Eventually, this type of human specific testing and more specialized lab tests will help consumers and manufacturers alike better understand what agents, and in what quantities, do and do not cause cancer in humans."

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