Press Conference, January 17, 1995,
CPC, 520 N. Michigan, Chicago, IL 60611
Chicago — According to scientific experts, commonly prescribed
lice shampoos can cause fatal childhood cancer. The Cancer Prevention
Coalition (CPC) will inform the public of this danger at a press
briefing on January 17, 1995 at 12 noon.
About six million Americans, mainly children, are infested with
lice each year. A common treatment for lice is a shampoo containing
the pesticide lindane. Recent epidemiological studies have reported
high rates of brain cancer in children treated with lindane shampoos.
These findings are significant in light of the dramatic 38% increase
of childhood brain and nervous system cancer rates from 1973 to
Additional evidence comes from recent studies linking lindane
exposure to increased risks of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and also
from long-standing evidence on fatal blood diseases including aplastic
anemia and leukemia. These findings are supported by experimental
evidence of carcinogenicity confirmed by the World Health Organization,
the Environmental protection Agency, and the Department of health
and Human Services; on the basis of such hazards, the EPA and several
other countries have restricted lindane's use in agriculture, and
other countries have banned it. Additionally, lindane is a known
neurotoxin - resulting in seizures and brain damages at dose levels
used in the shampoos.
CPC has sent letters to the Chicago Board, and to other local
and state authorities urging that they warn parents of the dangers
of lindane shampoo and to encourage them to seek out safer treatments.
CPC has also filed a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration
calling for a ban of lindane-based shampoos.
Speakers at the press conference will include Chair Dr. Samuel
Epstein, CPC Board members Dr. Quentin Young and Dr. Peter Orris,
parent Community Council President Mr. James Deanes, and Legal
Director of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights,
Michael Deutsch. The speakers will discuss the public health implications
of these data and will offer information about safer alternatives.
Commenting on the widely-prescribed use
of lindane, Dr. Quentin Young, CPC Board member said, "It
is a serious medical tragedy when these products are used with
such good intentions and can
have such tragic outcomes."