You may have seen the phrase “paraben-free” written on the labels of cosmetic products before. But what exactly are parabens and should you be concerned about them?
Parabens are synthetic preservatives used in foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal care products such as shampoos and moisturizers. There are different types of parabens; the most common include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben, but they can also be listed as Alkyl parahydroxy benzoates. Parabens help prevent bacteria and enable products to survive for months or even years.
The problem is that when you use these products, parabens can get into your body through your skin. In fact, it’s been estimated that as much as five pounds of cosmetic chemicals can enter our bodies every year. Once in your body, parabens mimic hormones and cause disruptions in the endocrine system.
One of the hormones parabens can mimic is estrogen, and according to Cornell University, high lifelong exposure to estrogen can increase the risk of breast cancer. In 2004, a study by the University of Reading in the UK found concentrations of parabens in human breast tumors; however, the study did not determine if parabens caused the tumors.
According to the New York Times, endocrine disruptions caused by parabens can lead to early puberty in adolescent girls and boys. Furthermore, parabens can have adverse effects on the male reproductive system. A study by the Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health found that parabens may cause decreased sperm levels.
No studies, however, have found a scientific link between parabens and cancer.
If you want to avoid parabens, look for products which use ethylhexylglycerin (which is plant-derived) or phenoxyethanol, a naturally-derived ether alcohol.
Shelley Kyle’s products are all-natural and paraben-free, so you can enjoy her bath gels, body creams, body scrubs, soaps, and more without worrying about the potential health implications.