What Are Parabens?Parabens are a family of chemicals. They have widespread use, from cosmetic and personal hygiene industries to food and pharmaceutical manufacturers. Parabens go by the names Methylparaben E218, ethylparaben E214, propylparaben E216, and butylparaben in consumer products.
Why Are They Used?
Since parabens are used as preservatives in so many products because of their antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Where Are They Found?You can find parabens everywhere! They're in your cosmetics, household cleaning products, and even in your food. You'll find parabens in products like:
- shampoos, conditioners, and shaving gels
- body lotions, sunscreens, moisturizers, and spray tanning solutions
- toothpaste and mouth wash
- deodorant and antiperspirant
- lubricants, medical ointments, and tablets
- processed foods, face powders, foundations
- and many more!
Why Are They Dangerous?
Parabens are called xenoestrogens or estrogen-mimickers. Because of their hormone-disrupting properties, the U.N. Environmental Programme classified parabens as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). Numerous studies have associated EDCs to various health issues, including infertility, obesity, neurologic problems, and others.
Specifically, parabens have been linked to breast cancer and breast tumors (parabens were found inside breast tumors during biopsies). They may also contribute to weight gain, abnormal fetal development, poor semen quality, depression and infertility.
Can't Get Pregnant? How Can Parabens Lead To Infertility?
When your body's hormones are out of balance, your ability to conceive and get pregnant becomes difficult and impaired. Hormone imbalances affect your ability to produce healthy eggs and sperm, as well as your ability to ovulate and prepare the uterine lining (endometrium) for pregnancy.
Your Body Easily Absorbs Parabens
The skin, the gastric mucosa (digestive system) and the blood easily absorb parabens. Once inside the body, parabens bio-accumulate in the fatty tissue and breast tissue (which is mostly fat). Because the body stores parabens, over time, the body becomes overwhelmed, resulting in hormonal imbalance and disease.
Parabens May Affect Hormone Balance
As xenoestrogens, they can dock onto a cell receptor reserved for estrogen. When this happens, the cell behaves as if real estrogen has docked. The endocrine system guides the release of hormones in the body, in specific times and in specific order. When xenoestrogens from outside sources (food, air, water, or cosmetics) disrupt the balance, hormonal chaos ensues. With xenoestrogens in the body, cells send feedback to the endocrine system that they received estrogen although there is no estrogen. In response, the endocrine system sends hormones not intended at the time. Before you know it, irregular periods, too much estrogen, insufficient progesterone or testosterone, and host of other hormonal imbalances begin.
To give you an analogy, this would be like someone turning on the sun in the middle of the night when nature is set to sleep and rest.
Companies Still Use Parabens Because They're Cheaper
The negative health effects of parabens have been well studied and documented. However, companies still continue to manufacture products with parabens. Although some companies are banning parabens from their production, many still prefer to use this preservative rather than switching to natural preservatives. Because natural preservatives are generally more expensive, companies continue to use parabens for their products.
There are natural preservatives such as grape seed, which can be found in many natural organic personal hygiene products, cosmetics and organic food.
Protect Yourself and Your Family
So, how do you protect yourself and your family from parabens? To avoid parabens, try these simple recommendations:
Screen every product you buy for methylparaben E218, ethylparaben E214, propylparaben E216, butylparaben (no number) and any other chemical name ending in 'paraben'. Refuse to buy products from companies that have not stopped using parabens. To find out which products still contain parabens, visit EWG's Skin Deep website.
Spread the word and share this information with your family and friends and especially those who can't get pregnant. No one wants to see a loved one die from breast cancer or prostate cancer and so many men and women simply are unaware of the link between their toothpaste, deodorant, body lotion or foundation and infertility or breast/prostate cancer.
What are your thoughts? Are you trying to get pregnant? Are you already using all-natural and organic cosmetics and personal care products?
Darbre, P. D., & Harvey, P. W. (2014). Parabens can enable hallmarks and characteristics of cancer in human breast epithelial cells: a review of the literature with reference to new exposure data and regulatory status. Journal of Applied Toxicology, 34(9), 925-938. Retrieved from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jat.3027
What are parabens, and why don't they belong in cosmetics? Environmental Working Group. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/californiacosmetics/parabens
Pan, S., Yuan, C., Tagmount, A., Rudel, R. A., Ackerman, J. M., Yaswen, P., ... & Leitman, D. C. (2016). Parabens and human epidermal growth factor receptor ligand cross-talk in breast cancer cells. Environmental health perspectives, 124(5), 563-569. Retrieved from: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.1409200
Rapaport, L. (2017, August 17). Common chemicals in cosmetics, soaps tied to poor semen quality. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-parabens-male-fertility/common-chemicals-in-cosmetics-soaps-tied-to-poor-semen-quality-idUSKCN1AX2C0
Breast cancer prevention partners. exposing the cause is the cure. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP). (2021, October 13). Retrieved from https://www.bcpp.org/
Search results || skin deep® cosmetics database. EWG. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/search.php?query=paraben