When shopping for products labeled “hygienic” or “sanitary,” it would be safe to assume the last thing these products contain are cancer-causing chemicals, right? Wrong.

A recent study shows that 85% of cotton hygiene products tested positive for the carcinogenic chemical glyphosate. That includes cotton swabs, gauze, wipes, and feminine care products like tampons and sanitary napkins; you know, items that potentially make contact with very sensitive and/or internal parts of your body—right where you want to put cancer-causing chemicals!

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world and the key ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp. The non-selective killer is a powerful substance, taking out any plant that it comes into contact with, including weeds and crops. Corn, soy, and cotton, however, have been genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate, so farmers can apply as much of the stuff to their crops as they want without destroying their yield.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer assessment arm of the World Health Organization, has deemed glyphosate a probable cancer-causing agent. Many stores and municipalities have since banned or restricted glyphosate since WHO released this statement. However, Monsanto and other industries have done their best to deny the harmfulness of glyphosate to the public.

This past year, a study was conducted by Argentinian University to analyze cotton products for the presence of glyphosate and AMPA (a metabolite or derivative of glyphosate). Samples of the cotton products in the study were all purchased from local stores, including tampon brands that are imported from the United States such as Kotex and OB.

The findings of the study were announced to the public in the fall of last year at the 3rd National Congress for Doctors for Fumigated Communities in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eighty-five percent of the tampons contained glyphosate and 62% contained AMPA. An astounding 100% of the cotton and gauze contained both chemicals.


“The report left us shocked,” commented Dr. Medardo Ávila Vázquez, president of the Congress.

“The result of this research is very serious,” he added, “when you use cotton of gauze to heal wounds or for personal hygiene uses, thinking they are sterilized products, and the results show they are contaminated with a probably carcinogenic substance.”

Concerns over the toxicity of feminine care products are nothing new. During the 1970s and 80s, over 50 American women were killed through exposure to toxic bacteria harbored in non-natural fibers of tampons. More recently in 2013, a report by Women’s Voices for the Earth revealed how the feminine care industry markets products containing unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals including preservatives, pesticides, fragrances, and dyes.

Since the feminine care industry is not required to disclose ingredients or chemical content on their packaging, the safe route is to seek out products labeled as organic and non-GMO.