Monday, 24 April 2017 08:58

Fact or Fiction: Products that contain parabens should be avoided.

Written by   Sheilah Danielle Fulton, L.E., L.E.I., MBA, published writer

The use of paraben preservatives, such as alkyl esters and p-hydroxybenzoic acids, goes back over decades to when they were first introduced in the 1920s.1 Nowadays, synthetic parabens are found in 80 percent of all personal care products, including cosmetics. These preservatives are widely used because of their antimicrobial impact. There are various types of synthetic parabens, such as methylparaben, ethyparaben, proplparaben, and butylparaben.

Parabens are also found in processed foods and are naturally occurring in plant life. Hence, it is use of synthetic parabens in mass produced foods, pharma, and cosmeceuticals – even in low concentrations of .01 to .3 percent – that can have a cumulative impact in increasing cancers.2 Parabens are found in 90 percent of cosmetics massed produced with the exception of some mineral cosmetics. The current hype on why synthetic parabens are harmful is based on an inconclusive test regarding cancer(s), such as breast cancer.3 Moreover, the precautionary principle of avoiding parabens stems from research based on cumulative base findings, which means in low-concentration parabens are not an overall hazard to health. Instead, it is the repetitive use of multiple products over longer periods of time, such as years, that may cause negative effect on health. 4

The cost of looking beautiful should not involve compromising anyone's health. It is estimated that over 10,500 cosmetics and personal care products are sold in North America that involve the use of parabens.5 Alternatives to mass-produced personal care products and cosmetics have increased over the past decade. The alternative solutions include minimizing exposure to chemical parabens by choosing to incorporate organic, eco-friendly, green products and mineral cosmetics in daily regimens.

1 Asimakopoulos, A. G., et al. (2014). Human Exposure to Chemicals in Personal Care Products and Health Implications. The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, 36, 165-187.
2 Carey, T. (2007, June 4). Your Life: Detox Your Make-Up Bag; Beauty We Know All About The Chemicals In Our Food - But What About The Cocktail Of Substances We Smother On Our Skin Every Day When We Get Made Up. The Daily Mirror.
3 Page, S. (2005, Apr 17). Think Before You Pink: Series: What Price Beauty? The Ottawa Citizen.
4 Epstein, S. S. (2013). Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal-Care Products Endanger Your Health and What You
Can Do About It. BenBella Books, Inc.
5 Ashby, J., et al. (1998). Some alkyl hydroxy benzoate preservatives (parabens) are estrogenic. Toxicology and applied pharmacology, 153(1), 12-19.

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