Anti-aging creams, which promise to smooth away the fine lines of maturity, could lead to cancer by stripping the skin of its protective top layer, warn experts.

A leading US professor has said that using these revolutionary creams could expose the skin to dangerous toxins and make it more prone to sun damage. Dr Sam Epstein, chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition, has said that popular ingredients in anti-aging creams called alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) were “probably the most dangerous cosmetic products on the market”.

And now, he has urged the American safety body to introduce new regulations to protect consumers and also asked British shoppers to be aware of the risks.

“So many women, and even some men, slather these products all over their skin in the naive belief that they have nothing to fear but aging,” The Daily Express quoted Epstein as saying.

The British cosmetics industry must comply with EU rules on what ingredients to use and what warnings to place on labels.

Currently, there is no requirement for a warning to be placed on creams containing AHAs.

However, Epstein pointed out that in America, the US Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that AHAs “could destroy the upper layers of skin, causing severe burns, swelling and pain”.

But he said that the dangers are equally relevant to British anti-wrinkle creams.

“Anything that strips the surface of the skin not only risks sunlight penetrating the exposed layer but also allows other toxic products in. All of the toxic effects are massively increased by AHAs,” he said. Epstein also expressed concern about other ingredients commonly used in anti-aging products, such as limonene. “Apart from being an irritant, it is a well documented carcinogen,” he said.

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