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Using cosmetic pills during pregnancy causes cancer among babies – FDA warns

Author: Biiya Mukusah Ali

The Head of Cosmetic and Household Chemical Department of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mr Emmanuel Nkrumah, has cautioned pregnant women against the intake of F(HQ) to lighten the skin of their newborn babies, and advised them to immediately put a stop to the negative practice.

The practice, according to him, caused kidney and liver diseases, skin cancer, skin thinning and eye problems, among other infections which had negative effects on the health status of newborn babies.

He consequently warned the public against using cosmetic products that contained hydroquinone meant to brighten their skin, to refrain from the negative practice as it had serious effects on the skin.

Irreversible effects

Mr Nkrumah revealed that some of the diseases caused by the use of hydroquinone were either irreversible or had no cure, while those with medications were very expensive to treat. 

In an interaction with the media at Abesim near Sunyani as part of a campaign to ensure zero per cent hydroquinone use in cosmetic products, he said hydroquinone was on the market for a medical purpose and could be used only when prescribed by medical doctors.


The use of cosmetic products containing hydroquinone for bleaching has become a growing public concern, with health practitioners warning against its use.

Infections

It causes infections such as body odour, stretch marks, kidney and liver diseases, skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma), skin thinning and exogenous ochronosis (+); and it has been linked to some cases of diabetes and hypertension, among others.

Some names of hydroquinone which may be found on product labels are 1,4-dihydroxybenzene, 1,4-hydroxybenzene, 1,4-benzediol, benzohydroquinone, P-benzenediol and hydroxyphenol.

Other names include idrochinone, quinol, dihydrobenzene, 1,4-didroxybenzol, phiaquin, benzoquinol, tequinol, eldoquin forte, derma-blanch, solaquin fort, Aida and ARTI.

Media engagement  

The engagement with the media was aimed at soliciting their support in educating the public on the negative effects of using cosmetic products containing hydroquinone, hydroquinone directive and the FDA restrictions on the advertisement of alcoholic beverages.

The directive on the zero per cent hydroquinone in cosmetic products came into effect in 2016 (GS227:2-2016) and was reviewed in 2017 (GS227:2-2017) by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).

Following activities in line with the implementation of the zero per cent hydroquinone in cosmetic products, no cosmetic product containing hydroquinone has been registered or renewed for some time now.

Companies producing cosmetic products containing hydroquinone were requested to reformulate and re-submit samples for evaluation, variation and subsequently approval, while the FDA ceased issuing import permits for cosmetic products containing hydroquinone.

The FDA is, therefore, engaging various stakeholders and the public through public education programmes, media sensitisation, product quality monitoring and post-market surveillance to monitor skin lightening products on the market to help get rid of cosmetic products containing hydroquinone in the country.

FDA restriction

For his part, the Head of Communication and Public Education of the FDA, Mr James Lartey, reaffirmed the FDA’s commitment to enforce the restricted time of airing the advertisement of alcoholic beverages on radio and television stations from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., which took effect from January 1, 2018.

He indicated that the restriction was in accordance with the FDA’s guidelines for the advertisements on food (section 3.2.6), especially the advertisement of alcoholic beverages.

Mr Lartey cautioned the media, advertisers, manufacturers and importers of alcoholic beverages to adhere to the restricted advertisement time, emphasising that failure to comply with the directive would attract the required punishment in pursuance to provisions of the Public Health Act 851.