Fairness creams: Social menace and health risks intertwined


The use of fairness creams in India has long been a controversial topic due to their association with perpetuating narrow beauty standards and their impact on psychological well-being. However, a recent study published in the medical journal Kidney International has highlighted a more concerning aspect of these cosmetics – their adverse effects on physiological health, specifically kidney health.

The study revealed a significant increase in cases of Membranous Nephropathy (MN), a kidney disorder causing protein leakage, due to the use of fairness creams with high mercury content. Mercury, when absorbed through the skin, can damage kidney filters, leading to nephrotic syndrome, which is characterized by excessive protein excretion in urine.

Image credit: She the people

This revelation raises questions about the safety of these widely-used cosmetic products and their impact on public health. Nephrologists have warned about the dangers of mercury exposure from fairness creams, emphasizing the need for public awareness and regulatory measures to address this growing health concern.

The study examined 22 cases of MN reported between July 2021 and September 2023, with most patients exhibiting subtle symptoms such as fatigue, mild edema, and increased frothing of urine. Of the 22 cases, 15 tested positive for ‘neural epidermal growth factor-like 1 protein’, a rare form of MN, with 13 of them admitting to regular use of fairness creams.

These findings underscore the need for immediate action to regulate the production and sale of fairness creams containing mercury. Health authorities must prioritize public awareness campaigns to educate consumers about the potential health risks associated with these products. Additionally, stricter regulations and monitoring of the cosmetic industry are necessary to prevent further harm to consumers.

The study also highlights the role of celebrities and social media influencers in promoting these harmful cosmetics, contributing to their widespread use and the perpetuation of unrealistic beauty standards. It is crucial for these influencers to be more responsible in their endorsements and to prioritize public health over profit.

In conclusion, the study’s findings shed light on the hidden dangers of fairness creams and the urgent need for action to protect consumers’ health. Regulating the cosmetic industry and raising awareness about the risks associated with these products are essential steps toward ensuring public safety.

Repurposed article originally published in She the people

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