What Are Parabens?

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We have been reading and listening to all the bloggers and Youtubers discuss parabens, so as we always do we had to do our research! To find out about any ingredient as well as if it is harmful to you please conduct your own research before you give something up or decide to trash it. It’s just as if you are attending a church and the pastor quotes bible scriptures but never tells you where to find the scriptures in the bible or you never open up the bible to read the scriptures for yourself. Did you know……Preservatives (parabens) may be used in cosmetics to protect them against microbial growth, both to protect consumers and to maintain product integrity. Without parabens there are a lot of products that we wouldn’t be able to use nor could the stores sell them to us. “The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) does not authorize FDA to approve cosmetic ingredients, with the exception of color additives that are not coal-tar hair dyes. In general, cosmetic manufacturers may use any ingredient they choose, except for a few ingredients that are prohibited by regulation. However, it is against the law to market a cosmetic in interstate commerce if it is adulterated. Under the FD&C Act, a cosmetic is adulterated if, among other reasons, it bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious under the labeled conditions of use, or under customary or usual conditions of use.”

“The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Typically parabens are used at levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.3%.” (http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productsingredients/ingredients/ucm128042.htm)

The research that we gathered is that there isn’t enough evidence that proves that parabens in products are not harmful to us especially since the levels of parabens in most products isn’t even close to the actual regulated amount of 25%.

What Are Parabens?

  1. any of a group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and in the food industry.
    Most parabens are found naturally in plant sources. For example, methylparaben is found in blueberries. Where it acts as an antimicrobial agent.
    Studies on the acute, subchronic, and chronic effects in rodents indicate that parabens are practically non-toxic.
    In individuals with normal skin, parabens are, for the most part, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Parabens can, however, cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis and rosacea in individuals with paraben allergies, a small percentage of the general population.

Humans have been preserving foods and other perishable goods for as long as there have been ice and sunlight available to freeze or dry them out. Over time, more methods of preservation were developed: curing, pickling, fermenting and canning, to name a few.

Along this same timeline exists the history of cosmetics. Ancient people tried everything from arsenic to ox blood in their quest for cosmetic improvement, sometimes at great risk to their health. While the ingredient list for ancient makeup was much simpler to understand (“Contained within: one leech, for maximum paleness”), the contents of modern products can sometimes make you feel like you need a degree in chemistry to identify them.

Among the ingredients that frequently turn up on labels of products ranging from toothpaste to deodorant are parabens. Parabens are identified by a wide array of names, such as propylparaben and parahydroxybenzoate.

Chemically, parabens are esters. An ester is a compound formed from an alcohol and an organic acid (in the case of parabens, that acid is p-hydroxybenzoic acid). Despite the occasionally tongue-twisting titles that identify them, parabens of any name are simply preservatives. Without them, bacteria and fungi would begin growing in these products, spoiling them and possibly harming you. Parabens are relatively easy to produce and incorporate into products, making them an ideal way to lengthen the shelf life of a variety of consumer goods.

Daily, most of us consume or apply parabens without knowing it. Some of the products in which they can found are:

  • Cosmetics, such as moisturizer, lipstick, foundation, concealer, eye makeup and makeup removers
  • Hygienic products, such as soaps, shampoo, “anti-wrinkle” creams, toothpaste, topical ointments, deodorant, sunscreen, bandages and eye drops
  • Household or industrial products such as textiles and glues
  • Food products such as salad dressing, mayonnaise, mustard, processed vegetables, frozen dairy products, jelly, soft drinks and baked goods

Handy product, right? So why do some people believe parabens harm the endocrine system, create hormonal disruptions and cause cancer? (http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-and-lifestyle/parabens.htm)

Though food items and medications have regulatory safeguards, cosmetics do not. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only gets involved if a product is mislabeled or contaminated. The FDA also prohibits any cosmetic that has decomposed or become putrid, so preservatives like parabens actually prevent regulatory intervention from occurring in the first place.

Researchers (and, soon, the public) expressed concern in the 1990s about parabens and public health, but little consensus (or quantifiable information) has been formed since then. Because they’re so commonly used, it’s difficult to study how parabens affect us. The amount of parabens in any individual product is believed to be far less than the amount that would cause you problems. On the other hand, you may use several of these products every day of your life and spread them all over your body, where they normally remain for the majority of the day.

Parabens are cause for concern because they’re xenoestrogens, meaning they fit into specially shaped estrogen receptors located in your cells. Once a paraben molecule has fit into the estrogen receptor, other glands and neurotransmitters begin passing messages and making adjustments based on the presence of that “estrogen.” Some researchers worry that parabens could affect estrogen production or other aspects of the endocrine system. One study of cancerous breast tissue found the presence of parabens, but parabens may very well be found in all tissue, due to widespread use. Parabens — in large quantities — have also been shown to lower the sperm count of mice in laboratory conditions.

Despite these concerns, parabens are still generally considered safe in cosmetics because they’re found in such small amounts. While there are suspicions that parabens may be harmful to us, there isn’t much in the way of solid proof. If you have worries about parabens, seek out product lines that use biodegradable, nonhazardous and eco-friendly ingredients. (http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-and-lifestyle/parabens1.htm)

Breast cancer

Average levels of 20 nanograms/gram of parabens have been detected in a small sample of 20 breast tumors. These findings, along with the demonstrated ability of some parabens to partially mimic estrogen, a hormone known to play a role in the development of breast cancers, have led some people to conclude that the presence of parabens may be associated with the occurrence of breast cancer, though scientists say no link can be determined from current studies and that more research called for.

The lead researcher of the UK study, molecular biologist Philippa Darbre, reported that the ester-bearing form of the parabens found in the tumors indicate that they came from something applied to the skin, such as an underarm deodorant, cream or body spray, and stated that the results helped to explain why up to 60% of all breast tumors are found in just one-fifth of the breast – the upper-outer quadrant, nearest the underarm (though this is controversial). “From this research it is not possible to say whether parabens actually caused these tumors, but they may certainly be associated with the overall rise in breast cancer cases. Given that breast cancer is a large killer of women and a very high percentage of young women use underarm deodorants, I think we should be carrying out properly funded, further investigations into parabens and where they are found in the body,” says Philip Harvey, an editor of the Journal of Applied Toxicology, which published the research. A 2004 study at Northwestern University found that an earlier age of breast cancer diagnosis related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving. “I personally feel there is a very strong correlation between the underarm hygiene habits and breast cancer,” said immunologist Dr. Kris McGrath, the author of the study.

This research has fueled a popular belief that the parabens in underarm deodorants and other cosmetics can migrate into breast tissue and contribute to the development of tumors.

However, no direct evidence of a causal link between parabens and cancer has been shown. A 2005 review of the data available at that time concluded “it is biologically implausible that parabens could increase the risk of any estrogen-mediated endpoint, including effects on the male reproductive tract or breast cancer” and that “worst-case daily exposure to parabens would present substantially less risk relative to exposure to naturally occurring endocrine active chemicals in the diet such as the phytoestrogen daidzein.” The American Cancer Society also concluded that there was insufficient scientific evidence to support a claim that use of cosmetics such as antiperspirants increase an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer, but went on to state that “larger studies are needed to find out what effect, if any, parabens might have on breast cancer risk. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraben)

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