Parabens are the most widely used preservatives in personal care products because they are inexpensive and stop bacteria, fungus and any other microbes from growing inside your makeup and creams, especially if they are kept in warm, moist environments like bathrooms. You will also find parabens added as a preservative in many food products. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to walk down any isle in a supermarket or drug store without finding dozens products containing parabens!
Some of the most common names for parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. Originally deemed safe for use in the 1950s, over the past several years, debates have come about regarding whether this very common chemical compound may be harmful to our health.
One question with respect to parabens is the rising incidence of breast cancer and its link to parabens. The problem is that parabens have a slight ability to mimic or at least interfere with estrogen once absorbed or ingested into the human body. Research is showing that the vast majority of breast cancer tumors, when biopsied, indicate the presence of parabens. Now, this does not necessarily prove that parabens are linked to breast cancer, but it is certainly cause for concern and definitely cause for more extensive research.
What’s also troubling is that other studies indicate that parabens show up in other body tissue and in our blood and urine as well.
Because we just don’t know whether parabens truly are harmful and because there is some evidence to demonstrate that they are, many beauty companies have nixed parabens from their list of ingredients. Still, parabens are widespread and present in most mainstream products.
Other potential worries about parabens:
- Effect the endocrine system causing hormonal disruption.
- Produce low systemic toxicity.
- Allergic reactions.
- Cause skin irritation and dermatitis.
We really don’t know the extent of the danger when it comes to parabens. We do know, however, that once ingested by eating or absorbed through the skin, parabens present themselves in our blood and urine within a matter of hours. Because there is evidence that this could be dangerous to our systems, the question is – why risk it?
The best practice is to avoid parabens. The first and easiest place to eliminate parabens is with your personal care products including soaps, shampoos, lotions and cosmetics. There are many paraben-free products available. Next, start checking your food labels.
Some of our favorites brands of paraben-free products are: