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Fairness creams cause increase in kidney problems in India

Fairness creams cause increase in kidney problems in India

New Delhi: A study found that skin fairness creams are increasing kidney problems in India, IANS reported.

When the obsession for fair skin runs deep in India, skin fairness creams have a lucrative market here. However, the high content of mercury in these creams is harming kidneys. The mercury results in Membranous Nephropathy, which is a condition where kidney filters are damaged, causing protein leakage. The disease is autoimmune, causing nephrotic syndrome, which is a kidney disorder that causes the body to excrete too much protein.

"Mercury gets absorbed through the skin and wreaks havoc on kidney filters, leading to a surge in nephrotic syndrome cases," one of the researchers, Dr Sajeesh Sivadas, Department of Nephrology, Aster MIMS Hospital, Kottakkal, Kerala, wrote in a post on

"These creams, widely available in India's unregulated markets, promise quick results, but at what cost? Users often describe a disturbing addiction, as stopping usage leads to even darker skin," he added.

The study examined 22 cases of MN reported between July 2021 and September 2023.

The findings showed that about 68 per cent or 15 out of the 22 were positive for neural epidermal growth factor-like 1 protein (NELL-1) -- a rare form of MN that is more likely to be associated with malignancy.

Of the 15 patients, 13 admitted using skin fairness creams before their symptom onset.

Of the rest, one had a history of use of traditional indigenous medicines, while the other had no identifiable trigger.

"Most cases resolved on cessation of use of the inciting creams. This poses a potential public health risk, and it is imperative to spread public awareness about hazards of using such products and alert health authorities to curb this menace," said the researchers in the paper.

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TAGS:IndiaHealth newsfairness creamskidney
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