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Crude Awakening: Mineral Oil Contaminates Everyone's Bodies

Crude Awakening: Mineral Oil Contaminates Everyone's Bodies

The scientific literature indicates that there are at least two dozen adverse health effects linked to exposure to mineral oil, a crude oil derivative. New research indicates these fat-soluble hydrocarbons are accumulating to disturbing levels in our bodies, and affecting newborns by contaminating breast milk.

How did they get there? Mineral oil is legally allowed to be added to our foods, drugs and cosmetics, where they accumulate in our bodies over time, with the highest concentrations found in our fat deposits. One autopsy study performed in 1985, revealed that 48% of the livers and 46% of the spleens of the 465 autopsies analyzed showed signs of mineral-oil induced lipogranuloma (a nodule of necrotic, fatty tissue associated with granulomatous inflammation or a foreign-body reaction around a deposit of an oily substance), indicating just how widespread pathological tissue changes associated with exposure really are.

In the United States, the FDA has approved mineral for use in cosmetic products, as well as a food additive up to 10 mg/kg a day. For a 150 lb adult (68.03 kilograms) this is the equivalent of 680 milligrams a day, or 248 grams (over half a pound!) a year.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, mineral oil may be used for the following uses in ingestible products: 

Code of Federal Regulations Title 21


Considering the fact that our food supply is now saturated through with "food-grade" petroleum, it is no wonder that a study published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, in 2008, found that "mineral paraffins might be the largest contaminant of our body, widely amounting to 1g per person and reaching 10 g in extreme cases." 

In the study they took tissue samples from women undergoing Ceasarean section and found "concentrations varied between 15 and 360 mg/kg fat, with an average of 60.7 mg/kg and a median of 52.5 mg/kg." More disturbingly, milk samples taken from these same women 4 days after delivery showed "the same mixture of mineral paraffins as the tissue fat at concentrations between 10 and 355 mg/kg (average, 44.6 mg/kg; median, 30 mg/kg)." 

Infants, of course, are at much higher risk for adverse effects associated with mineral oil exposures due to their relatively far higher body burden (lower body weight vs. chemical exposure) and less developed blood-brain-barrier and detoxification systems in comparison with adults. Also, children have been found to accumulate higher levels than adults, either due to their higher consumption of de-dusted grains and glazing agents on confectionery products, or their inability to detoxify it as efficiently.

It should be noted that the health risks associated with mineral oil are not strictly theoretical. The World Health Organization classifies mineral oils (in untreated or lightly treated industrial-grade form) as Group 1 carcinogens to humans.1 The OSHA fact sheet on mineral oil also references research from 1991 indicating that it is carcinogenic to humans.2

Additionally, a study published in Journal of Investigative Dermatology, in 2009, found that commonly used moisturizing creams containing mineral oil are tumorigenic when applied topically to UVB-pretreated high-risk mice. The brands studied were Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin, or Vanicream, which millions of Americans apply daily to their skin. Learn about the superiority of coconut oil as a bodycare product: Let Food be Your Cosmetic.

For additional information on natural substances which have been shown to ameliorate adverse health effects associated with petroleum and/or petroleum constituents, view our page on the topic.

What Can You Do About It? 

Sweating to detox

The good news is that research indicates stimulating basic detoxification mechanisms in the body like sweating can profoundly increase the excretion of accumulated petrochemical xenobiotics/toxicants. Learn more by reading the following article: 

Research Confirms Sweating Detoxifies Dangerous Metals, Petrochemicals


International Agency for Research on Cancer (17 June 2011). "Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1 - 102" (PDF). Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. pp. 3, 19. Retrieved 11 November 2011.

2 Hathaway GJ, Proctor NH, Hughes JP, and Fischman ML [1991]. Proctor and Hughes' chemical hazards of the workplace. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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Mineral Oil A Hidden Toxin

Dear Sayer Ji - 

Mineral oil is prescribed freely as the best lubricant for stool and to prevent blockage to many mothers, who care for young children or to people who have had digestive problems and constipation. Rhonda asked a good question, and I would also like to know the long term effects, after many years have passed since the intake of food grade mineral oil? 

Every day you provide vital information, supported with documentation, that explains how our health declines or can be improved. The GreenMedInfo website provides a vehicle to get this information out to the public and I do hope more people will learn visit. 

Blessings, Debby

Mineral Oil

My daughter had serious intestinal problems when she was about 2 years old. She was very constipated and I was very worried since it was an ongoing problem. The pediatrician sent us to a specialist, a pediatric gastrointerologist. He had me feed her mineral oil by the tablespoonfuls for 9 months. At some point I made some calls to his office to tell them it was not working but they insisted I keep up the regimine. I finally had to just take her off it against their instructions because it did not help her and caused other problems. I wonder just what it has done to my now 15 year old daughter?


Ronda D.

mineral oil

"Baby oil" is pure mineral oil (petroleum) and fragrance!   How many mothers put this directly on their babies' skin without knowing what it is!

Is mineral oil listed on ingredients?

Looking at the list of uses, it is very disturbing to see the wide and needless use of mineral oil!  As a processing agent, is it required that manufacturers list it as an ingredient?


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