Ingredients 101: Parabens
by Karley Ziegler Mott
“Paraben-free” has been a key selling point among natural personal care products companies over the past few years. Some think it’s just a buzzword. Others try to avoid parabens at all costs.
We do not use parabens in any of our Seed Body Care products. I thought I would take some time and sit and explain what parabens are, and why there is such a controversy surrounding them.
First, parabens are a class of widely used preservatives in beauty and skin care products. For more information on parabens, I have provided a link at the bottom to a great resource from our friends at The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
Some people think parabens are okay--that there wasn't enough research out there to call them a real health threat. I think that can finally be put to rest now with the most recently published study:
In the September 1, 2011 edition of Carcinogenesis, researchers at the California Pacific Medical Center released their findings showing that both BPA and Methylparaben at even low concentrations found in humans have negative health consequences such as an increased breast cancer risk.
It also went on to mention the ever-increasing male breast cancer rate, which is another alarming trend. These findings are quite similar to an older study on parabens from about 12 years ago. In this compelling study in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, parabens were linked to breast cancer as they have shown to be hormone disruptive and lead to tumor growth.
I am the mother of boys. What really made me take notice of this issue was a July 2002 article in the Archives of Toxicology. According to Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system.”
When I read about that study, I vowed never to buy a product made with parabens again to use on my children. So many children's products contain parabens and to think that I could be rubbing a lotion on my boys that could have grave consequences to them later in life was very upsetting to me.
Parabens have been proven to penetrate the skin. As we already know, it's estimated that more than 60% of what we apply to our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. We already know for certain that parabens fall into this group. What is so alarming is that parabens have been shown to mimic the hormones in our body. This is really a big deal. With so much research linking parabens to estrogen-driven cancers, why are companies still formulating with them? There are much better alternatives out there.
Even if you ignore these studies, you do not want to use parabens anyway, even if there was no link to breast cancer.
For example, methylparaben has been linked in several studies to premature aging. So while you're buying your $70 anti-wrinkle cream that is formulated with parabens, keep that in mind.
You truly deserve healthy, better-for-you ingredients.
As always, label reading is a must. Look for these ingredients on your labels. If you see them, remember that they are parabens:
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