Parabens are widely used, inexpensive preservatives found in a variety of consumer products. In a 2008 study published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology (Darbre, et al), parabens have been linked to breast cancer in women.
Preservatives by themselves are not a bad thing, and all products that hope to have any appreciable shelf life need preservatives. One of the oldest preservatives in our history is salt – used to keep foods from spoiling. Think of “salt pork.” Without preservatives, many of our foods and consumer products would either spoil or begin to harbor unhealthy bacteria or fungus. However, we must select our preservatives with care.
The problem with parabens is that their chemical structure is similar to estrogen – and this can contribute to the growth and proliferation of malignant tumors. Parabens are “xenoestrogens” – estrogen-like substances that originate outside our bodies and are commonly found in many products and chemicals. Other xenoestrogens include formaldehyde, phthalates and bisphenol A.
The scientific evidence and research on parabens as a cancer-promoting chemical is not completely conclusive, but the association is there – why take a chance when 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime?