ORLANDO, Fla. – The Center for Environmental Health may be winning the fight to get the cancer-causing chemical called Cocamide DEA off store shelves.
The nonprofit group found the cancer-causing chemical in nearly 100 shampoos, soaps and bubble baths. News4Jax has learned that soon, most of the products will no longer contain the controversial ingredient.
Cocamide DEA comes from coconut oil and is a foaming agent used to make bubbles and also acts as a thickener. But it is also a carcinogen -- a cancer-causing chemical.
Caroline Cox, research director at Centers for Environmental Health, said every time you squeeze the shampoo bottle, you're putting your family at risk.
"At least 1 percent of what's in your hand is Cocamide DEA, and that's going in your hair and is absorbed in your skin," Cox said.
For the last year, the Centers for Environmental Health has been in litigation with manufacturers to get products containing Cocamide DEA off store shelves.
To date, Colgate-Palmolive, Saks, Shikai and Walgreens are just a few of the more than 50 companies who have agreed to remove Cocamide DEA from their products since May. (See full list of companies here.)
The decision stems from a California Consumer Protection Law called Proposition 65. That means the Centers for Environmental Health has reached a legal agreement with these manufacturers that is binding only in California.
However, CEH said, "We expect the companies will stop making and selling products with Cocamide DEA nationwide."
But that doesn't mean you won't find an older product with Cocamide DEA in it still on store shelves.
So how worried should we really be? Dr. Josef Thundiyil, an emergency medicine physician in Orlando, said Cocamide DEA is only rated as a "possible carcinogen" under the International Agency on Research for Cancer.
"We have a lot of other things to worry about that are known and probable carcinogens. I would focus your energy on those because we know those cause cancer and have link to cancer," Thundiyil said.
While Cocamide DEA has been found to cause cancer in animals, the question remains will it surface in humans. Thundiyil said you can always use the precautionary principal.
"Sometimes if we are not sure, it's nice to have that information on the bottle, so each consumer can decide for themselves," Thundiyil said.
According to Thundiyil, if you are concerned, the International Agency on Research for Cancer, or IARC, has put together a complete list of known and probable carcinogens. (See that list here.)