Paraben Risk

Parabens pose health risks

What are Parabens?

Parabens are a set of inexpensive synthetic chemicals frequently used to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungus in many consumer products and medicines. Depending on the type of alcohol they are formulated with, parabens may have prefixes such as methyl, ethyl, propyl or butyl.

Paraben free products typically include other types of preservatives including grape seed extract or natural Vitamin E to ensure that there will be no bacterial or fungal growth.

Parabens are linked to breast cancer in women

Because parabens may be responsible for certain health problems, consumers who are concerned about protecting their overall health and well-being should avoid these chemicals and look for products with effective and safe alternatives. 

The primary public health concern is that parabens have estrogen-like characteristics. In sufficiently large doses, parabens can affect the concentration of serum (blood) hormones. Because these synthetic chemicals are present in a high number of different consumer products, the risk of exposure can be significant.  Parabens can be absorbed through the skin and stored in the body’s tissues. Once in the body, parabens are known to mimic estrogen, a hormone that promotes cell growth.

Although European countries restrict the amounts of parabens that may be present in certain consumer products, the United States does not regulate them.  A large number of skin care products manufactured in the U.S. use parabens to preserve the ingredients and extend a product’s useful shelf life.

Parabens can accelerate skin aging

In a 2006 study published in the medical journal Toxicology, researchers at Kyoto University in Japan discovered that methylparaben can increase skin aging when exposed to ultraviolet light.  According to the authors, “These results indicate that methylparaben, which has been considered a safe preservative in cosmetics, may have harmful effects on human skin when exposed to sunlight.” Thus, anti-aging skin care products containing methylparaben could actually cause more skin aging, not less. 

A basic premise of healthy skin care is to avoid compounds that can cause irritation, allergic reactions, or a greater risk of health issues. Skincare products companies that promote safety and health do not use parabens.

In summary, many women who are breast cancer survivors or who have either been diagnosed with cancer, are undergoing chemotherapy, or recovering from recent surgery are advised to avoid parabens. For other women, there are no acceptable reasons to use products containing parabens, especially when safe, paraben free wrinkle creams and skin care products exist that provide additional health benefits.

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