The overabundance of parabens in products is becoming a real health concern. Millions of women spend a lifetime of slathering themselves with nice smelling creams, perfumes, and body washes.
What are Parabens Used for?
Parabens are used as a preservative in shampoos, shaving gels, sunscreens, moisturizers, and makeup. They were first used 100's of years ago to preserve drug products that are still used to preserve drugs applied to the skin, injected into the veins, and taken by mouth. Lastly, parabens are also being used in multiple food products.
Parabens are a great preservative because they have antibacterial properties and they fight against yeast and mold. They also don't allow water to enter or break down the product that they are preserving. Parabens are very inexpensive to use which adds to their popularity. The Food and Drug Administration and the European Union consider them safe for food consumption.
Unfortunately, the wide use of parabens is leading to them being deposited in unintended places. Parabens are being found in floor dust and air. The major health effects are more concerning for children than they are for adults because their ingestion rate of dust is five to 10 times higher. In addition, parabens can end up in wastewater, sending them into the water supply, agricultural soil, and fish.
The primary concern for your health is the effects of parabens on your sex hormones. Parabens bind to estrogen receptors in the body, meaning they have an estrogen-like effect that could potentially raise breast cancer risk and impact fertility. They also bind to testosterone receptors potentially affecting male fertility as well. A study conducted with rats using high doses of parabens showed a decreased level of estrogen and testosterone and caused menstrual irregularities in females and altered sperm counts in males.
Another study conducted with 500 couples actively attempting pregnancy in Michigan and Texas supports the concern for parabens. When researchers measured urinary levels of parabens in both men and women and found that women with the highest amounts of parabens in their urine had a 34 percent reduction in pregnancy compared to women with lower amounts in their urine.
What was most concerning is that parabens have been found in both breast tumors and in the breast tissue adjacent to tumors. This doesn't mean that breast cancer is caused by parabens but it does mean we can't call them innocuous either.
Studies are also revealing that the higher the levels of parabens are the lower the levels of the thyroid hormones are. Lastly, parabens applied directly to the skin with UVB light, can increase the risk and skin damage and even possibly cause skin cancer.
Parabens in small use may not have been such a major health concern and may not have caused harm. But with greater use in our food and water supply, it's time to ask questions about the possible future health concerns.
What can you do?
Avoid perfumes, creams, shampoos, and any products that contain parabens. Read the fine print and know what you put on your skin goes directly into your body. If you wouldn't eat it don't apply it.