Words of caution on petroleum by-products
Mineral oil, a byproduct of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil (or, basically a refined motor oil), is the main ingredient in many baby care items. Baby Oil, Vaseline® (petroleum jelly) and baby lotions all contain mineral oil as a key ingredient.
1. The skin is the body’s largest organ and plays a vital role in overall health. Mineral oil acts as a thin plastic, impenetrable layer on the skin. It is difficult to absorb and clogs the pores, which slows the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins – which can promote acne and other disorders. This process slows down skin function and normal cell development causing the skin to prematurely age.
John Hopkins University claims that mineral oil in moisturizers is the number two leading cause of aging (#1 cause is the sun). According to Australia’s National Occupational Health and Safety Commission (NOHSC), “Prolonged contact with mineral oil has the associated risk of developing skin conditions such as oil folliculitis, eczematous dermatitis, melanosis of the face and plantar warts.”
A recent article in Positive Health Magazine, outlines the dangers of the mineral oils found so ubiquitously in the majority of cosmetic products, including baby oil, lipstick, face creams, body lotions and sunscreens. “Mineral oil (classed as a petrochemical pollutant and xenohormone) can have negative effects on hormones and the skin’s ability to breathe, attract moisture and detoxify. It can also slow down cell renewal and be the second (after the sun) most likely cause of premature ageing. In fact sunscreens produced from mineral oil may promote skin cancer as well as colon and breast cancer.”
Some mineral oils are carcinogenic. Studies have shown that poorly refined mineral oil can induce skin and scrotal cancers after prolonged, repeated, and heavy direct contact with the skin. Australia’s NSHOC reports: “A number of studies have linked cancers of the skin and scrotum to mineral oil exposure.” (Brit J Industr Med, 41, 437-444, 1984.)
2. Once the oil is absorbed, it is broken down by the liver, thus distracting the liver from other detoxifying chores. The liver helps your baby fend off sickness and toxicity.
3. Just having mineral oil around is a liability. If mineral oil is ingested, it will absorb (and essentially rob) vitamins from the intestinal tract – especially oil-soluble vitamins A, D and E. as well as beta-carotene, calcium, phosphorus and potassium and the blood coagulant Vitamin K. This could lead to nutritional deficiencies and other complications.
4. Ingested mineral oil also can impair lung function, a condition known as lipoid pneumonia (New England Journal of Medicine 1998; 339:1947-1948). Dr. Debra L. Bowen from the Food and Drug Administration says the agency “requires manufacturers to label orally administered mineral-oil products as not for use in infants, and to warn against their use in young children or bedridden persons.” Oddly enough, mineral oil is still widely prescribed by some pediatricians as a “safe” laxative for children.