Anti-GMO “Natural Society” Links Formaldehyde To Cancer–But Sells Formaldehyde

Recently I wrote about the so-called Natural Society’s hypocrisy in criticizing cellulose as indigestible food filler while at the same time using it in the dietary supplements they sell.  This offense is minor compared to the gaffe they’ve committed in their virulent anti-GMO campaign.

The Natural Society doesn’t like formaldehyde. I mean, they really don’t like formaldehyde.2,3  Ranting about the supposed natural production of this compound by GMO soy, author Christina Sarich terrifies readers with tales of an IARC Group 1 carcinogen skulking in their food, while compatriot Patrick Gallagher warns that even the vapor content is so dangerous it should be avoided.

So:  why is the Natural Society selling formaldehyde to their followers?

Don’t believe me? Let’s visit the Natural Society online store. Here’s a nice 8-ounce jar of Sombra Pain Relieving Gel:

Sombra Pain Relieving Gel from the Natural Society

Sombra Pain Relieving Gel from the Natural Society. (click/enlarge)

 

The list of ingredients seems innocent at first, but I’ve highlighted something interesting:

Sombra ingredients

Sombra contains sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, aka a “formaldehyde releaser.” (click/enlarge)

As Winnie the Pooh is famous for saying: “Oh, bother!”.  Sodium ‘hydromethylglycinate’, the preservative in Natural Society’s Sombra gel, is either accidentally or intentionally misspelled.  We can go to the Sombra web site and confirm it’s actually sodium hydroxymethylglycinate:  a compound known as a “formaldehyde releaser.”

As you might guess from the name, a formaldehyde releaser slowly releases formaldehyde into a product over time.  The purpose is to act as a preservative, deterring the growth of bacteria, fungi, and other undesired “guests.”  Here’s the correctly-spelled ingredient list, courtesy the Sombra web site:11

Sombra's ingrdient list

Natural Society either accidentally or intentionally misspelled one of the ingredients.  Here’s the correct ingredient list, straight from the manufacturer. (click/enlarge)

For a small fee, the Natural Society could have gone through PubMed or PubChem and purchased access to one of the many papers confirming their favored preservative’s role in releasing formaldehyde into the product they’re selling.5,6,7 It cost me just $6.00 and 15 minutes of reading time to learn about sodium hydroxymethylglycinate in “Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy”: 5

sodium hydroxymethylglycinate

Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, excerpt from “Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy.”5

 

But it gets worse.  Like so many other snake oil peddlers on the internet, Natural Society quotes the non-science-based Environmental Work Group (EWG) at every drop of the hat.8,9  And even EWG pegged the formaldehyde releasing capabilities of sodium hydroxymethylglycinate.10

So where did Natural Society go wrong?  Was it a lack of research?

“After working to find all of the best brands in the industry, we settled on Sombra’s Cool Therapy gel after over an entire year of testing and research.” 4

Whoa.  An entire year of testing and research, and they missed the formaldehyde?

Or did they?

Remember Christina Sarich, the Society writer/formaldehyde-hater we discussed at the beginning of this article?  Here she is again, writing for the Natural Society on  the subject of toxic formaldehyde releasers in skin care products:

“Furthermore, many face and body soaps contain ‘antibiotic cleansers’ like Triclosan. What else? Benzethonium chloride, artificial colorants, BHA, BHT, silicone derived emollients, parabens, and Formaldehyde releasers [DMDM hydantoin diazolidinyl urea, Imidazolidinyl urea Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, N-(Hydroxymethyl) glycine, monosodium salt, and quaternium-15]. YUCK!”12

Holy GMO-free sh*t!  The same author who writes about the dangers of carcinogenic formaldehyde in GMO food also warns about it avoiding in skin care products–then turns around and sells it to you.

And all of this after an entire year of testing and research.  Cojones the size of Texas!  But I weep for the masses who hand their hard-earned money to businesses like this.

I weep.

 

Revision history:  corrected spelling of cojones (10 Dec 2015);

corrected title of reference (6) (12 Dec 2015)

 

 

 

Image Credits
Natural Society, Sombra screen and product snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, from “Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 1. Characterization, frequency and relevance of sensitization, and frequency of use in cosmetics” 5, used under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”) with the intent of providing education.

References
(1) Study: GMO Soy Accumulates Cancer-causing Formaldehyde
http://naturalsociety.com/study-gmo-soy-accumulates-cancer-causing-formaldehyde/

(2) New Study: GMO Soy Accumuluates Cancerous Formaldehyde
http://naturalsociety.com/new-study-gmo-soy-accumulates-cancerous-formaldehyde/

(3) Styrene and Formaldehyde Use Causing Health Complications
http://naturalsociety.com/styrene-formaldehyde-use-causing-health-complications/

(4) Sombra Pain Relief Cream on Natural Society Shopping Page
https://shop.naturalsociety.com/product/sombra-cool-therapy-pain-relieving-gel-8-oz

(5) Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 1. Characterization, frequency and relevance of sensitization, and frequency of use in cosmetics.
Contact Dermatitis. 2010 Jan;62(1):2-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2009.01615.x.
de Groot AC1, White IR, Flyvholm MA, Lensen G, Coenraads PJ.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20136875
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0536.2009.01615.x/abstract  (full text, last accessed 08 Dec 2015)

(6) Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
Dermatitis. 2010 Mar-Apr;21(2):109-10.
Russell K1, Jacob SE.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20233550

(7) Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate: a potential formaldehyde-releasing preservative in child products.
Dermatitis. 2009 Nov-Dec;20(6):347-9.
Jacob SE1, Hsu JW.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19958742

(8) Natural Society Quotes EWG: Toxic Flame Retardants in Baby Products
http://naturalsociety.com/toxic-flame-retardants-found-in-80-of-baby-products/

(9) Natural Society Quotes EWG: Glyphosate Doubles Cancer Risk
http://naturalsociety.com/ewg-monsantos-herbicide-chemical-glyphosate-doubles-cancer-risk/

(10) EWG: Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706077/SODIUM_HYDROXYMETHYLGLYCINATE_(FORMALDEHYDE_RELEASER)/#

(11) Sombra Gel Ingredients (manufacturer website)
http://www.sombrausa.com/cool-therapy

(12) Five Healthier Swaps for Expensive Toxic Skin Care Products
http://naturalsociety.com/5-cheaper-healthier-swaps-expensive-toxic-skin-care-products/

“The Natural Society” Fails At Biology, Math

Slimfy Stage 1 from Natural Society

The Natural Society lambastes cellulose as cheap filler that can’t be digested. Perhaps that’s why they use it in their diet foods? (click/enlarge)

Hypocrisy, thy name is The Natural Society.

In the short time I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve caught some of the bigger names in woo in embarrassing acts, such as food/product safety “expert” The Food Babe selling pesticides and coal tar dyes to children.  But small-time player “The Natural Society”, with their “Slimfy Nature and Science” diet foods, takes the cake.  You just can’t get any more obvious than this:

“Fifteen Companies Whose Products Contain Wood Pulp”,1 penned by Natural Society co-founder Anthony Gucciardi, counts fifteen companies who use an ingredient that, according to Gucciardi, is “wood pulp”:  a useless filler that can’t be digested by humans.  Gucciardi’s shaky biology aside (cellulose is an important biological component found in plant cell walls), it’s obvious the man has trouble counting.  He missed the sixteenth company selling cellulose in its food products: his own.

Yes, like most pseudoscience sites, The Natural Society has an online store.  How better to market alternatives to the products they’re demonizing?  One of the offerings from these snake oil salesmen is “Slimfy”, a diet supplement.  Anyone care to guess what’s found in each and every bottle of Slimfy?  If you said “cellulose”, you’re correct.  Extra credit to those who answered “microcrystalline cellulose.”

What does Gucciardi himself say about the cellulose in his products?

“Cellulose can be found in products under ingredient listings such as cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, and more.” 1 (emphasis mine)

Yes, yes. We saw the Natural Society play the name game on its own labeling. Your point is, Mr. Gucciardi?

What many do not realize, however, is that cellulose is actually wood pulp. Unable to be digested by humans due to the lack of necessary enzymes needed to break the ingredient down, cellulose has been deemed ‘safe for consumption’ by the FDA.” 1

Ah… imply cellulose isn’t safe to eat by putting “safe for consumption” in quotes… clever!  So why are you selling it as an edible product then, Anthony? (May I call you Anthony?)

But what you really have to applaud is the cajones of a company that takes an ingredient they claim can’t be digested by humans, places it in a bottle, and sells it as a diet aid–for $37.50 per jar of 60 capsules ($225 for a buy 3, get 3 free deal)!

Well, that’s one way to lose weight.  Aye, carumba!

 

Image Credits
The Natural Society and Slimfy product snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

References
(1) Fifteen Companies Whose Products Contain Wood Pulp Cellulose
http://naturalsociety.com/15-companies-whose-products-contain-wood-pulp-cellulose/