DEA (Diethanolamine) and You

Take a look at the ingredients in your shampoo right now, even those touted as “natural”. Chances are the of those ingredients is DEA or Diethanolamine. This foaming chemical is found in combination with fatty acids (bits of oil molecules) as cocoamide DEA, lauramide DEA, and also as TEA (triethanolalamine) etc. DEA is yet another common shampoo ingredient that can dramatically increase your risk of cancer. It is part of the SLS, DEA cocobetaine detergent combination that forms the base for almost 90% of the cosmetic foaming products, and is uses both in shampoos and non-organic bodywashes.

There is some question as to whether DEA by itself is a carcinagen. I have heard both sides of the argument here and the best conclusion I can make given the evidence I have examined is that cheap DEA (made with a metal catalyst in it’s production) may be potentially more harmful than older, slower production methods that result in a more complete reaction of the base chemicals used to create it. However, there is little argument that in combination with other ingredients in your shampoo or bodywash, DEA has the potential to form nitrosodiethanolamine (NDEA). NDEA is easily absorbed through the skin and has been associated with a number of potentially fatal cancers like liver cancer. Washing your hair in hot water (and who doesn’t) may increase your risk factor. When it leaches into lakes DEA is not fish friendly.

Public outcries against this wonder ingredient about 10 years ago were abrubtly stifled when industry producers lawyered up and threatened to sue the whistleblowers. Newspapers stopped publishing articles about it and the whole controversy died (no pun intended). This is not to be taken as de facto proof as to DEA’s safety.

Regular readers to this column know that I advocate a kind of Spiritual Molecularism, finding God in the atoms. Molecules, like living organisms, exist in a context – an ecosystem if you will where these nearly invisible components of life are endlessly recycled. Everything is in balance above and below. Only humans, in our extreme hubris, dare to create new and novel molecules (and life forms) with no regard to the the eco system they will be dumped into. Foolish people. Some lessons will go down hard. This is the Soapman telling you that if you care about your health and the health of our planet (they are one and the same) pay attention to the molecules!

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