London: Fake tan users can be afflicted with fertility problems and cancer, due to toxins present in the cosmetic, experts have revealed. Danger ingredients in it include hormone-disrupting compounds known as gender benders along with carcinogens.

Other components in the chemical cocktail included allergy-causing skin irritants and substances which released toxins including cancer-causing formaldehyde and nitrosamines. Pregnant women who applied the tanning lotions have been told that they could face a higher risk of birth defects.

According to experts, men and women could suffer fertility problems and stars like 'TOWIE' girl Lauren Goodger using the lotions may also be exposed to an increased cancer risk.

"It would be prudent to take a precautionary approach to many of these chemicals until their effects are more fully understood," the Sun quoted Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency.

"They may be a contributing factor behind the significant increases in cancers, diabetes and obesity and falling fertility. It's the cocktail effect," she said.

And Elizabeth Salter-Green, of the UK charity the Chem Trust, said that many of the chemicals in fake tan were toxic to reproduction and could harm a foetus.

The effects are thought to be greater than for other cosmetics as the tan is applied all over the body several times a week.

Fake tan sales are worth 100 million pounds a year in the UK and are the fastest-growing area for cosmetic sales. A third of women and one in ten men admitted to using it.

Most tans contain dihydroxyacetone (DHA) which reacts with the amino acids present on the skin's surface to turn it brown.

"There are chemicals such as formaldehyde, MSG and tartrazine amongst others, which could cause concern for allergy sufferers, if used on a regular basis and especially over a long period," Lindsey McManus, Deputy CEO, Allergy UK said:

Alyson Hogg of Vita Liberata, a UK firm that has developed the only fake tan free from dangerous chemicals, said that firms used them as they were "cheap and easy."

Cosmetics manufacturers have insisted that all the ingredients were safe. "There are stringent EU laws covering the manufacture of cosmetic products," Dr Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, said.

(Agencies)

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