The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) submitted comments this week in response to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's (OEHHA's) request for relevant information on the carcinogenic hazards of the chemical coumarin (CAS No. 91-64-5). OEHHA has selected the chemical coumarin for review by the Carcinogen Identification Committee (CIC) of OEHHA's Scientific Advisory Board for possible listing under Proposition 65 as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.
AHPA's comments stress that coumarin is a natural constituent of some food plants and request that all future OEHHA communications clearly state this fact and provide a representative list of these plants, which include lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia syn. L. officinalis), some species of cinnamon, such as Cinnamomum cassia, and sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum syn. Asperula odorata).
"AHPA is significantly concerned that OEHHA did not mention the fact that this chemical is a natural constituent of some plant foods," said Michael McGuffin, AHPA's president. "This oversight is inconsistent with OEHHA's normal procedure to clearly identify chemicals that are natural constituents of one or more foods."
AHPA's comments also highlight two studies that evaluated the carcinogenic potential of coumarin in humans and concluded that "exposure to coumarin from food and/or cosmetic products poses no health risk to humans," and that "no carcinogenic responses have been reported in humans."
Research conducted in rodent models administered very high amounts of pure or nearly pure coumarin, presumably from synthetic sources, AHPA states in its comments.