I’ve been more than a little disgusted lately at all of the products I’ve seen hoarding parabens. While I notice them frequently (near the end of most ingredient lists) in lotions, etc, I have also seen them in what companies are claiming as “natural” products (for example, Lush lip balm). Worse yet, at a craft show this past weekend, a seller of homemade beauty products had used parabens in lotions, fragrances, and more! I was appalled…
To give you a little background, there are a number of different kinds of parabens (methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, etc) used as preservatives in all sorts of cosmetic products. Clearly, they are unnecessary ingredients as a wide variety of truly organic and natural creams, lotions, hair care products, makeup, and lip balms are made without them! Of course, it costs more to get products without parabens, since they are a cheap and effective means of preservation.
While the FDA basically says that parabens are okay in the quantities currently used, the risks truly seem quite alarming. Since parabens act similarly to estrogen, it would make sense that this could have a big impact on the human body- male or female. Parabens have been linked by studies to breast cancer; a study in particular showed parabens in breast cancer tissue of 19/20 women. Scary!!! You can also see how this estrogen “mimicker” could be especially dangerous to males, for example, baby boys who become more susceptible to birth defects (it makes sense that this could affect the male reproductive system).
According to Natural News, parabens can also lead to reduced muscle mass, breast growth, and excess storage of fat. In addition, another article states that parabens penetrate the skin and can be found in the blood only minutes after applied. Worse yet, since the parabens in cosmetics enter the body without going through the digestive system, the chemicals stay in the tissue.
Now, there are many, many companies guilty of adding parabens to their products, but I was recently sent an article on the cancer risks of Avon products of which many contain parabens. It states that laboratory tests show that parabens stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells. Late this summer, Avon and the National Cancer Institute (of course, a government agency) stated their collaboration in order to “develop a computerized initiative to recruit and study women in order to improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer”.
Hmmm, let’s step back a minute. How about, for the prevention portion, Avon takes some initiative to get rid of parabens in their products?! How could that not be step one here? While Avon keeps their prices very low, I have to believe that many women would pay more for products that are less likely to cause them breast cancer and other issues someday! Another frightening note in the article is that not only are parabens quickly absorbed through the skin of “immature female rodents”, but they also stimulate premature uterine growth. I can only then assume how this might affect our female youth using such products.
Overall, I recommend staying away from products with parabens whenever possible. It’s better safe than sorry, and I certainly don’t trust companies and government agencies to determine what quantities are acceptable in my body when profits tend to be a deciding factor. Once again, knowledge is power, and only with it can we make informed decisions to protect our bodies.