Parabens- Ring a bell? Well, there is a very high chance that you have already heard or come across this word before. Parabens. You can find them in a wide array of products ranging from shampoos to moisturizes, deodorants, sunscreen, lotion, toothpaste, cosmetics… The list goes on and on. Believe it or not, but parabens are also used as additives in certain processed foods.
So, now you know where you might find parabens, but what exactly are parabens and what do they do?
- What Are Parabens?
Parabens are actually a chemical compound of para-hydroxy benzonic acid, hence the name parabens. Nearly all of the parabens used in day to day products as mentioned above are actually man made.
Fun Fact: Natural occurring parabens can be found in Bluberries.
- What Are Parabens For?
So, why can you find parabens in oh so many products? The answer is simple, really. Parabens act as preservatives- cheap and effective preservatives for that matter. Basically, parabens keep bacteria and fungus from forming on those said products.
- Are Parabens Safe?
The use of parabens dates way back to the 1950s and, to this day, certain companies still use parabens on their products. However, the question of “Are parabens safe?” has become a rather controversial one.
But why has this “concern” only been raised fairly recently?
Well, here lies the problem. You see, some time in the 1990’s, research has shown that parabens are actually xenoestorgens, which pretty much means that they copy or mimic estrogen in the body. This then has the tendency to lead to estrogen disruption which has then been believed to link to reproductive concerns and even a bigger “C”, breast cancer.
There was actually a study conducted in 2004 by Dr. Philippa Darbe. The British cancer researcher has actually found parabens in malignant breast tumors. Yikes!
And something less alarming, parabens have also been known to cause allergies on certain skin types leaving rashes and irritation.
As said earlier, it is a controversial topic. There are critics of this 2004 study claiming that it was somewhat biased as noncancerous tissue from cancer free breasts was not checked to find out if parabens were also present and there is no solid evidence that just because parabens were found in the tumors that they were the cause of the cancer to begin with.
Another point to keep you from panicking, other studies on parabens have been conducted finding that parabens have a very weak estrogenic effect.
- What To Do Now?
As I said, there is no reason to panic as there is still a lack of cold hard scientific evidence proving that parabens are bad. However, you should still be concerned. Better safe than sorry, right?
It is great to know that the amount of parabens in products is relatively small and is generally considered safe to use because of their low levels. However, what is even better to know is that there are products that are totally paraben free. And the demand for such is growing larger and larger.
So, if you really want to stay on the safe side, (on the super safe side, that is), check the labels, read what kind of preservatives are used, or just look for something that says “PARABEN-FREE”. Heck, you could even just ask the person at the counter and they should be able to tell you exactly what products you are looking for.