Connect with us

HEALTH

What Are Parabens?

Dani Love

Published

on

Parabens are synthetic chemicals that are used as preservatives in a variety of products, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food. As preservatives, parabens give products a longer shelf-life and prevent harmful bacteria and mold from growing in the products, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Parabens are derived from a chemical known as para-hydroxybenzoic acid (PHBA) that occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, like blueberries and carrots,” said Kathryn St. John, the communications director at the American Chemistry Council. “PHBA is also naturally formed in the human body by the breakdown of some amino acids.”

The parabens that are manufactured for consumables and personal care products are identical to those found in nature. The most common types of parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isopropylparaben and isobutylparaben.

“Parabens are widely used because they are extremely effective [and] hypoallergenic and cost very little to produce,” said Sandra Arévalo, director of nutrition services and community outreach at Community Pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

Because the preservative is found in a wide variety of foods, beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other personal care products, paraben exposure occurs when these products are swallowed or absorbed through the skin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The FDA requires all personal care products to be labeled with a list of ingredients so consumers can see what’s in the product and decide if they wish to use it. Cosmetic manufacturers aren’t required to obtain FDA approval for developing, marketing or selling products to consumers. However, if a cosmetic or personal care product is found to be dangerous when used according to the product’s directions, the FDA will take action and could remove the product from the market.

“Since 90 percent of common items found in grocery stores contain parabens, the concentration in our bloodstream adds up,” said Dr. Chesahna Kindred, a dermatologist at Howard University in Washington, D.C. And because most people regularly come into contact with parabens, consumers want to know if there are any health risks involved with using products that contain these chemicals.

But the answer is unclear and contentious, Kindred said. “Herein lies the controversy — do parabens cause cancer or not? If so, what amounts of parabens lead to cancer?”

Parabens are thought to be endocrine-disrupting chemicals, also known as hormone-mimicking chemicals, said Kindred. That means the body may treat the paraben like a hormone. For example, parabens have been found in breast cancer cells, which indicates that parabens may act like estrogen, said Arévalo. [12 Worst Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals & Their Health Effects]

With the rates of some types of cancer increasing, additives in food and personal products are increasingly under scrutiny. A scientific review of cosmetics and their cancer risks published in 2018 in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum journal concluded that there is no evidence to suggest that using paraben-containing products leads to an increased risk of cancer. The authors noted that a large number of untested chemicals are available in a variety of products in the U.S. and that more cost-effective and high-throughput screening methods are needed for testing potentially carcinogenic ingredients, such as parabens.

Studies with rats have demonstrated that parabens are endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which means parabens could cause breast cancer. However, the endocrine disruption seen in rats occurred only after the animals were dosed with much higher levels of parabens than what humans typically encounter, said St. John. And so far, human clinical trials have failed to show a connection between parabens and increased cancer risk.

Nonetheless, some experts are concerned about the potential cumulative effects of using paraben-containing products, said Kindred. While more research is needed in this area, the CDC reports that there is not a strong indication that higher levels of parabens in the body cause adverse health effects.

However, some individuals may be more sensitive to parabens than others. “As with many potentially hazardous chemicals, different people will have different susceptibilities and sensitivities based on their own genetic backgrounds,” said Gretchen Edwalds-Gilbert, a professor of biology at Scripps College in California.

If consumers are worried about using paraben-containing products, Edwalds-Gilbert recommended following the Latin phrase “ne quid nimis,” which means “nothing in excess.” Perhaps using paraben-containing products in moderation is the key to avoiding unforeseeable health issues, she said.

Additional resources:

Writer, content contributor and member of the Human Parasites Support Network. #NYU. Survivor and victim of #LymeDisease. Co-host on the H.P.S.N. Talk show

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Medical News

#CDC

Be a #FoodSafetyHero: Use food thermometers correctly. For a thinner piece of meat, like a hamburger patty, insert the food thermometer into the side. For a thicker piece of meat, like a whole chicken, insert it from the top. Learn more: bit.ly/2kim4dD. #FSEM

David J. Sencer CDC Museum is open 9/21 for @SmithsonianMag’s annual @MuseumDay Event. See our “Changing Winds: Public Health and Indian Country exhibit” and more. bit.ly/3004DRT Pictured here is an extended Navajo family, 2019. Photograph by Kiliii Yuyan.

test Twitter Media - David J. Sencer CDC Museum is open 9/21 for @SmithsonianMag’s annual @MuseumDay Event. See our “Changing Winds: Public Health and Indian Country exhibit” and more. https://t.co/bE7MJRDvfb 

Pictured here is an extended Navajo family, 2019. Photograph by Kiliii Yuyan. https://t.co/o0ljdjhdhi

Anyone can get an infection and almost any infection can lead to sepsis. Who is at higher risk? Learn the answer and take the rest of the quiz here: bit.ly/2KwdX7j.

#LymeDisease

@RemediesPodcast Stacey is correct -common occurrence. #LymeDisease sufferers are often too traumatized to go to ER & sometimes even to doctor appointments due to mocking, shunning, humiliation & lack of understanding. I was referred to a psychologist the last time I went to ER for chest pain!

"No one—NO ONE—ever asked me to get tested for Lyme or even posed the possibility that I had a vector-borne illness." via @CohenGive #LymeDisease steveandalex.org/lyme-and-13-li…

We're at the Lyme disease Conference in Prague this weekend. Stop by our stand to say hello if you're attending! We have great neighbours @Make_Well_Lyme too! #BCAclinic #LymeDisease #lymediseaseawareness

test Twitter Media - We're at the Lyme disease Conference in Prague this weekend. Stop by our stand to say hello if you're attending! We have great neighbours @Make_Well_Lyme too! #BCAclinic #LymeDisease #lymediseaseawareness https://t.co/TZ4gp7qhqH
test Twitter Media - We're at the Lyme disease Conference in Prague this weekend. Stop by our stand to say hello if you're attending! We have great neighbours @Make_Well_Lyme too! #BCAclinic #LymeDisease #lymediseaseawareness https://t.co/TZ4gp7qhqH

Support my dear friends from @SamsSpoons and @ThreeifbyCreek as they host a fun-filled evening 1 week from today to fight #lymedisease 🕷 twitter.com/samsspoons/sta…

#NTD’s

“We need to increase awareness of cutaneous #leishmaniasis. Every 20 seconds there is a new case of this disease.” Jorge Alvar #ECTMIH2019 #NTDs

test Twitter Media - “We need to increase awareness of cutaneous #leishmaniasis. Every 20 seconds there is a new case of this disease.” Jorge Alvar

#ECTMIH2019 #NTDs https://t.co/8OR6y4XoJv

Schistosomiasis is one of the most widespread #NTDs in #Africa. #ESPEN is looking for mid-career professionals passionate about beating the disease to join their Roster of Experts! ✅Send your CV to @pmwinzi (mwinzip@who.int) More info: bit.ly/2mha9gx #NotoNTDs

test Twitter Media - Schistosomiasis is one of the most widespread #NTDs in #Africa. #ESPEN is looking for mid-career professionals passionate about beating the disease to join their Roster of Experts!

✅Send your CV to @pmwinzi (mwinzip@who.int)

More info: https://t.co/t8U2mfsuv9
#NotoNTDs https://t.co/cdRipdcPJZ

Trending

Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved. The Human Parasite Support Network.