Chemical in cosmetics, sunscreen may cause cancer: NTU

PHOTO: Chemical in cosmetics, sunscreen may cause cancer: NTU

SINGAPORE - A chemical commonly found in cosmetics and sunscreen can potentially cause cancer, said a recent study by researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

Nano-particle sized zinc oxide is often used in cosmetics and sunscreens to provide physical blocks from harmful ultra-violet rays.

Their use has become popular as the nano-particles appear transparent when applied to the skin, rather than an opaque white cover of normal zinc oxide powder.

These nano-sized particles can enter human cells and damage DNA, the genetic building blocks of most organisms. In most cases, a protein to prevent damaged cells from multiplying and becoming cancerous is activated, The Straits Times reported

However, some people do not have or produce enough of this protein, and their cells may turn cancerous when damaged by zinc oxide nano-particles.

NTU researchers reassured the public that there is no cause for alarm, as the research is still in its preliminary stage.

The researchers said this study was for the purpose of triggering further in-depth research into the safer use of nanomaterials. The team is working with regulatory bodies such as the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) to define a safe scope of use.