The Scoop on Parabens
The new surge of paraben-free cosmetics spurred two nagging thoughts: 1. What is paraben? 2. Should I avoid it for some reason?
Parabens are the most common preservatives in beauty products and cosmetics (85% of products list it), and they sometimes make an appearance in food and pharmaceuticals. They have been around since the 1950s to prevent microbe growth, acting as an essential feature for the beauty products stored in your steamy bathroom.  Products typically carry trace amounts of various parabens, ranging from 0.01 to 0.3 percent, in comparison to the 25 percent safety levels. Though the low numbers seem to diminish a possible threat, the recent concern is the effect of repeated paraben exposure over time. Namely with its connection to breast cancer.
In the 1990s, researchers determined a potential link to the growth of breast cancer tumors and paraben presence. To blame is paraben’s oestrogenic effect, allowing them to (weakly) mimic estrogen. Such activity was previously conceived to disrupt normal bodily functions and increase risks of breast cancer. In 2004, the scare amplified when a study found parabens present in 18 of the 20 samples of breast tumors. Cosmetic companies responded to the evidence by marking parabens guilty, and nixing them from products.
But don’t write off your beloved lotions quite yet; these studies held little girth in the medical arena. The research endured criticism for its failure to measure paraben presence in healthy breast tissue, and for not determining any causal pattern of paraben exposure and breast tumor development. Moreover, a 1998 study proved paraben was 10,000 to 100,000 times weaker than a naturally occurring form of estrogen, weakening its breast cancer link.3
The FDA gives the green light to parabens, linking it in no definite way to the proposed harmful effects.3 For the time being, they are increasing product safety, though it’s always helpful to be wary and keep your eyes out for emerging research.
If parabens still leave you panicky, you can easily adopt a paraben-free lifestyle with new product offerings. These products are oil-based, rather than the typical water-based formulas that require a preservative.
Parabens are easily spotted on product labels:
- Posted by holx-admin
- On July 5, 2014