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09 Mar 2006

"Lipstick causes cancer" chain letter spreads across the internet

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Users urged not to foward chain letters to their friends and family.

Experts at SophosLabs™, Sophos's global network of virus, spyware and spam analysis centers, have warned users not to fall for a chain letter that is spreading across the internet, claiming that lipstick causes cancer.

Sophos technical support has received an increasing number of reports of the Lipstick chain letter from concerned computer users in the last few days. The emails claim that some brands of lipstick contain a dangerously high level of lead which can cause cancer.

However, Cancer Research UK has confirmed that the email's claims are not true, and Sophos advises that users should simply delete the email, and not forward it onto their friends and colleagues.

"Chain letters like this are too easily forwarded to friends, family and colleagues without people using their common sense. Stories like this become urban legends, constantly being repeated without anyone bothering to check the facts," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "Hoaxes and chain letters like this are not harmless - they waste time and bandwidth, and can be a genuine headache for support departments. Users need to be more skeptical, and ask themselves whether everything they are told by email can be believed."

Part of the chain letter reads as follows:

The higher the lead content, the greater the chance of causing Cancer. After doing a test on lipsticks, it was found that the Y.S.L. lipstick contained the most amount of lead. Watch out for those lipsticks which are supposed to stay longer. If your lipstick stays longer, it is because of the higher content of lead. Here is the test you can do yourself:

1. Put some lipstick on your hand.
2. Use a Gold ring to scratch on the lipstick.
3. If the lipstick colour changes to black then you know the lipstick contains lead.

Please send this information to all your girlfriends, wives and female family members.

The full text of the chain letter can be found here.

Sophos has made available a series of free, constantly updated RSS feeds which enable users to always find out about the latest viruses, hoaxes and chain letters.

About Sophos

More than 100 million users in 150 countries rely on Sophos as the best protection against complex threats and data loss. Sophos is committed to providing complete security solutions that are simple to deploy, manage, and use and that deliver the industry's lowest total cost of ownership. Sophos offers award-winning encryption, endpoint security, web, email, mobile and network security solutions backed by SophosLabs - a global network of threat intelligence centers.

Sophos is headquartered in Boston, US and Oxford, UK. More information is available at www.sophos.com.