There have been concerns that the everyday skin care products we are using may be doing us more harm than good. Parabens are in just about every skin, hair, and body care product on the market. So, what are parabens, and what can they do to your health? Parabens are placed in cosmetic products that we use to prevent the growth of microbes. They are a preservative to keep your products fresh. Parabens can be absorbed through your skin and transferred into the blood or the digestive tract. Parabens are found in numerous products including shampoos, lotions, antiperspirants, body scrubs, and in eye and facial makeup. There are four types of parabens that are most commonly used in cosmetic and skin care products. Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparabe will be listed in the ingredients of the products you are using if it contains a paraben.
Parabens are found in products that contain a significant portion of water like your shampoos, conditioners, facial and body cleansers, body washes and scrubs, and makeup. There are limits placed on the concentration of parabens that can be put into a single product, but this doesn’t take into account the numerous other products people are using that also contain parabens. In a urine test taken from U.S adults of all ethniticities and economic backgrounds, teenage and adult females had much higher levels of methylparaben and propylparaben in their urine than the males of the same age and background. Women are much more likely than men to be using numerous skin and body care products, so they are much for likely to overdose on paraben cosmetic products.
What health issues should you be concerned about when using a paraben product? Your greatest issue when it comes to using excessive amounts of products that contain parabens is hormone dis-function. When your hormones are out of balance this can lead to breast cancer or reproductive issues. Parabens have the ability to mimic estrogen by binding themselves to estrogen receptors on cells. Parabens have also been shown to cause cancer, endocrine disruption, immunotoxicity, reproductive toxicity, and breakouts, and skin irritation. There was a study done in 2004 by the UK showed the presence of five different parabens in breast tumors of 19 out 20 women who participated in the study. This study doesn’t prove for a fact that there is a relationship between parabens and breast cancer, but the study does show there was a detection of parabens that were still intact, un-altered by the body’s natural metabolism, which shows the ability of parabens to penetrate skin and stay in the breast tissue.
The FDA stands by the decision that there is no reason for consumers to be concerned with the use of products containing parabens. However, the agency is constantly evaluating new data. If or when the FDA makes a determination that these ingredients are hazardous to our health, then the agency will then advise the companies and the public of legal options. This has been the stance of how the FDA regards parabens since last released October 31, 2007. No new information or data has come out claiming this products are so unsafe that we can’t use them.
So, should you be consuming products that contain parabens or not? The choice is yours. Is it worth the risk? There are many products on the market that are paraben-free and they usually have that written on the label. These products are usually sold at organic stores, or in the organic section of your drugstore. With 85% of cosmetic products being made with some type of paraben it is almost impossible to avoid them, but it is possible with research and determination.