Bad News: A Popular Skin-Care Treatment Might Cause Cancer

We've long suspected that with every attempt to halt the aging process comes a consequence. Call it karma, call it the inevitability of nature — for all our excitement about treatments pushing our cells to perform miracles, maybe in the long run, we're doing more harm than good. This article in the New York Times unfortunately lends support to our theory. The treatment in question? Chemical peels — specifically, TCA peels.
Let's be honest. We love us some chemical peels. Particularly, the kind that we can buy at a store and perform in the comfort of our own home, basking in a pleasant tingling sensation while wearing sweat pants and eating ice cream. However, nothing knocks us out of our reverie like the possibility that chemical peels may very well be causing cancer — at least if it's the kind that contains trichloroacetic acid, or TCA. According to the New York Times, TCA is "especially popular because it can reduce sun damage, pigment spots, and acne scars."
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While the link between cancer and TCA has been scrutinized for a while, in 2011, the federal Environmental Protection Agency published a review that "cited study after study in lab mice linking TCA to liver cancer; one research group called it a 'complete carcinogen.'" If it can cause cancer in mice, the next logical step is that it can cause it in larger animals — such as um, us. And, as the Times reports, "A report published this summer in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research found evidence of both genetic and cellular damage in human subjects." Though the article states that research on human subjects is rare, and concludes that no one can say for sure if the link is real either way, we're worried.
Chemical peels aren't the only way to encounter TCA (it turns up in drinking water, for one), but we're definitely going to think twice before deliberately putting potentially carcinogenic peels on our faces. Read the full article, and then let us know if it has you reconsidering your anti-aging routines. ( New York Times )
chemical peelsPhoto: Via The New York Times.


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