Are Parabens Safe?
Food, medicines, and cosmetics, all contain
preservatives that keep the bacteria, fungi, and other microbes away and
prolong the shelf life of these products. Ever since 1950s, parabens have been
the most widely used preservatives in the cosmetics industry. This group of
synthetically made chemicals replaced the then used formaldehyde and seemed at
the time as a very promising alternative. In fact, the people from the branch
trusted them so much that today,
almost 70 years later, you can find parabens
in 77% rinse-off personal care products, and as much as 99% of leave-on ones
Take any of the makeup, skin care or hair care products that you use regularly
and read the ingredients list. They are easy to spot, since the second part of
the name is almost always the word ‘paraben’. The most common types are
methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Although, you might also come
across such tongue-twisters as benzyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid,
methyl-parahydroxybenzoic acid, parahydroxybenzoate, etc.
The broad use of these chemicals can be explained
with 2 words – inexpensive and effective. Sounds good, but then why, all of a
sudden, so many cosmetic brands are launching paraben-free versions of their
Over the past few years, a number of scientific
studies raised questions concerning the harmful effects of this
which made consumers think twice before buying parabens-loaded
products. While the debate among scientists, cosmetic manufacturers, and regulatory
bodies is still ongoing, there are some firm pieces of evidence regarding the
harmful effects of parabens on the human health – pieces of evidence that we
should not overlook.
Parabens and Hormonal Imbalance
In today’s polluted atmosphere, we are exposed to
environmental oestrogens (xenoestrogens) on a daily basis. These man-made
compounds differ structure wise from the natural oestrogen produced by our
bodies, but at the same time, they mimic its effects. The most significant and
most adverse effect they might have once inside our bodies is causing
Being a xenoestrogen itself, paraben is often
described as an endocrine disruptor. Although a consensus has been reached
regarding the parabens’ status as xenoestrogens, there is a clash of scientific
opinions on the subject of the level of their repercussions on human health.
Some say that the hormonal disturbance caused by these compounds is minimal,
since even the most potent paraben (butylparaben) has a relatively weak
oestrogenic effect compared to natural oestrogens. Nevertheless, in our opinion, no
matter how low the risk is, there is no need to take it – after all, we have
one body and we have to try our best to keep it healthy.
Lastly, let’s have a look at some basic truths
about human physiology. According to what we were taught in high-school, in addition
to oestrogen, women’s bodies also produce progesterone – the ’opponent’ of
oestrogen which, among other functions, serves to keep the level of the latter
normal. When parabens enter our bloodstream they disturb this delicate balance
between oestrogen and progesterone, wreaking havoc in our otherwise normally functioning
reproductive system. Doesn’t sound nice.
and Breast Cancer
have known for over 25 years that oestrogen plays a part in the formation and
progression of breast cancer. It is not a surprise then that a compound that
mimics oestrogen might have the same impact on women’s health.
pivotal study, entitled
of Parabens in Human Breast Tumours
,was published in 2004 by P. D. Darbre, a
senior lecturer in oncology and researcher in biomolecular sciences at the
University of Reading, in England. The authors of the study found intact
parabens in 18 out of 20 tested malignant breast tumour tissue samples and
concluded that the cancer was caused by parabens contained in deodorants and antiperspirants
that we use daily.
Darbre explains that there are two steps in the development
of breast cancer: first is the cell damage i.e. the “birth” of cancer cells,
and second – their rapid, uncontrolled growth. The aluminium found in antiperspirants ‘takes care’
of the first step. Parabens, which act as female hormone, take care of the
second, by promoting cell growth. Another argument in support of this theory is
the location of the tumors. About 55% of all breast tumours occur in the Upper
Outer Quadrant, which is the part of the breast closest to the armpit i.e. the
place where people usually spray antiperspirants.
more recent study conducted by Dr William Goodson, a
surgeon at California Pacific Medical Centre in San Francisco, California,
showed that parabens also make breast cancer treatment ineffective. During the
tests, he introduced a cancer-inhibiting drug to cancer cells but they only
continued to grow.
Need we say more?
Health Issues Related to Parabens
a study conducted back in 2002, Dr. S. Oishi found that butylparaben had a
negative impact on male rats’ levels of testosterone. Does this mean that
parabens might also be responsible for the
declining sperm counts in men in the past few decades?
A group of scientists from the University of
Michigan, Harvard School of Public Health, confirmed in 2010 that exposure to
butylparaben actually damages the DNA in sperm cells. Methylparaben, which is
found in facial products, does not affect the reproductive organs, but it does
ironically increases the skins sensitivity to ultraviolet rays, hence increases
the risk of
premature aging. Exposure to isobutylparaben during pregnancy has
been linked to anxiety and behavioural changes in offspring. The list goes on,
but we’d rather stop here…
We, at La Mav, believe that you do not have to sacrifice your health in the name of beauty!
Our products are certified organic, 100% toxic-free and cruelty-free! We offer natural solutions for the most common skin concerns – solutions that work and do not pose any risk to your health!
there are still many questions surrounding parabens’ safety, U.S.
National Cancer Institute advises cautious use of personal care products
containing parabens until more research is done. The current trends in the
cosmetics industry clearly show that manufacturers are becoming more and more
aware of the damaging effects parabens might have on our health. At the same
time, many regulatory organs assure us that parabens are likely to be phased
out in the next 10 years or so. Sounds great, but why wait 10 years when you
can limit your exposure now?
Luckily, many companies have already switched to
paraben-free beauty products that contain natural preservatives, such as oregano,
thyme, goldenseal root, grapefruit seed extract, rosemary,
vitamin E or
lavender oil. You can trust us – all of them work just as good as parabens, without threatening your health!
You have a choice – shop smart. Your body will thank
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