According to The Los Angeles Times: heard the one about lead in lipstick? If not, you must not have an e-mail account, because this has to be one of the most prolific urban myths perpetuated through mass messaging in the history of cyberspace.
Seven years after it first originated, it finally popped up for the first time last week in my inbox, sent from a caring aunt in Georgia.
Citing a doctor from “the breast cancer unit” at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, it warns in part: “Recently a lipstick brand called ‘Red Earth’ decreased their prices from $67 to $9.90. It contained lead. Lead is a chemical which causes cancer.”
“It’s the most amazing thing,” said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “It’s the most persistent urban myth e-mail I’ve ever seen. I just got one from South Africa.”
The blogosphere is afire with entry after entry about the needless alarm spread by this “hoax e-mail” toward everyday products like makeup. But there’s a reason it’s still bouncing around inboxes from South Florida to South Africa — it’s not all myth, and the U.S. government is poised, for the first time in history, to tackle cosmetic safety regulation, perhaps in part thanks to this viral message.
First, it’s important to clear the air on the falsehoods perpetuated by the e-mail: Cancer is the least of your concerns when it comes to lead contamination. While it is a probable carcinogen, lead is a more direct cause of brain damage, nerve disorders, infertility and other neurological concerns.
There’s also no magic “gold ring test” to determine the presence of lead on your ruby red lips. The e-mail urges readers to put lipstick on their hands, then rub a gold ring through it, and if it turns black — voila! — you’ve got lead. That’s probably the biggest hoax of all. You’d have to pay a lab about $150 to test a tube of lipstick for lead using equipment far more sensitive than a wedding band.
Just as cosmetics have their urban legends so it is with breast implants. Dr. O’Toole has heard many of them in his office from patients during their initial consultation. These myths include, but are not limited to: breast implants can explode if a person is flying in an airplane. Another popular one, if you are breast feel hard after breast augmentation ,this means the patient has an infection and the implants need to come out. Neither of these are true, and Dr. O’Toole encourages his patients to ask him directly any questions they may have pertaining to their breast implants.