Wednesday December 11, 2019

East African Countries Set to Ban Skin-Lightening Products Containing Hydroquinone

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health

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skin-lightening products
FILE - Aranmolate Ayobami, plastic surgeon at Grandville Medical and Laser clinic in Lagos, holds a tube of Skinlite a skin lightening product used at his clinic, on July 17, 2018, in Lagos, Nigeria. VOA

East African countries are set to ban skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent linked to health problems when used in high concentrations. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution calling for a region-wide ban on the manufacturing and importation of products containing hydroquinone.

At a beauty parlor in Arusha, 52-year-old Rose Mselle has been using skin-bleaching products since she was a teenager. She says women like her want to be beautiful. “And in the process of looking for beauty, or for our skin color to shine, we use things that we shouldn’t,” she added.

At a nearby market, 32-year-old clothing vendor Janet Jonijosefu used skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone, a medical agent used to treat dark spots, for years. She stopped after her skin became fragile.

She said the beauty products containing hydroquinone badly affected her skin. She started developing patches on her face. She went to the doctor and was advised to stop using products containing hydroquinone and instead use aloe vera.

skin-lightening products
FILE – A shop sells skin-lightening products in Accra, Ghana, on July 3, 2018. VOA

Skin-lightening products often use high concentrations of hydroquinone, which can cause skin problems or become toxic when mixed with other bleaching chemicals.

Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Africa ban or regulate the agent in cosmetics. Tanzania bars imports. The East African Legislative Assembly last week passed a resolution on a region-wide ban of hydroquinone’s manufacture and importation.

Suzan Nakawuki, a member of the regional assembly from Uganda, noted that hydroquinone is not only used by women but also men. “We have seen men bleaching seriously even more than women,” she said. “But it’s becoming a problem. If we don’t regulate it, it is going to become very problematic.”

When used medically, hydroquinone can be an effective treatment for skin discoloration. Some East African lawmakers spoke out against a blanket ban. Aden Abdikadir, a lawmaker from Kenya, said he is concerned a blanket ban will cause “serious trade disruption” for cosmetics.

skin-lightening products
If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. Wikimedia Commons

If signed by heads of state, the ban becomes law in all six East African Community states, which include Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Critics point out bans on hydroquinone have failed to stop smuggled products from being sold openly. Cosmetics labeled as having hydroquinone are on display at shops in Arusha.

If bans are not backed by enforcement, they will have little effect on the use of the high demand skin-lightening products, despite the risk to health. (VOA)

Next Story

AI Can Better Help Doctors to Identify Cancer Cells in Human Body

The process of manually identifying all the cells in a pathology slide is extremely labor intensive and error-prone

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Cancer
The AI algorithm helps pathologists obtain the most accurate Cancer cell analysis - in a much faster way. Pixabay

Researchers at University of Texas Southwestern have developed a software tool that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recognize Cancer cells from digital pathology images – giving clinicians a powerful way of predicting patient outcomes.

The spatial distribution of different types of cells can reveal a cancer’s growth pattern, its relationship with the surrounding microenvironment, and the body’s immune response.

But the process of manually identifying all the cells in a pathology slide is extremely labor intensive and error-prone.

“To make a diagnosis, pathologists usually only examine several ‘representative’ regions in detail, rather than the whole slide. However, some important details could be missed by this approach,” said Dr. Guanghua “Andy” Xiao, corresponding author of a study published in EbioMedicine.

A major technical challenge in systematically studying the tumor microenvironment is how to automatically classify different types of cells and quantify their spatial distributions.

The AI algorithm that Dr Xiao and his team developed, called “ConvPath”, overcomes these obstacles by using AI to classify cell types from lung cancer pathology images.

Cancer
Researchers at University of Texas Southwestern have developed a software tool that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recognize Cancer Cells from digital pathology images – giving clinicians a powerful way of predicting patient outcomes. Pixabay

The ConvPath algorithm can “look” at cells and identify their types based on their appearance in the pathology images using an AI algorithm that learns from human pathologists.

The algorithm helps pathologists obtain the most accurate cancer cell analysis – in a much faster way.

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“It is time-consuming and difficult for pathologists to locate very small tumour regions in tissue images, so this could greatly reduce the time that pathologists need to spend on each image,” said Dr Xiao. (IANS)