Avoiding Toxins in Personal Care Products: Parabens

Recent research from the United Kingdom has shed new light on the relationship between parabens and breast cancer.

Cheap toxins

Parabens are potentially toxic chemicals used by personal-care-product manufacturers since the 1950s as preservatives to lengthen the shelf life of a variety of popular products such as face creams, moisturizers, make-up, perfumes, shampoos, and deodorants.  These chemicals are the darlings of manufacturers because the additives are cheap and widely available.  They must be man made and are rarely found in natural ingredients.  Manufacturers have found a way to keep costs down and increase profits at the expense of our health and well-being.


Parabens and breast cancer

An important research study, recently released from Reading University in the United Kingdom analyzed samples of human breast tumors and measured the concentration of parabens in the tissue.  Of the 160 tissue samples collected, 99% contained at least one paraben and 60% of the samples had five.

BreastCancerResearchReading University’s Dr. Philippa Darbre, who has spent more than a decade studying parabens and their effects when absorbed by the skin, says, “These results are of concern because parabens have been shown to mimic the action of the female hormone estrogen and estrogen can drive the growth of human breast tumors.”

Progress in combating parabens

Personal care product companies concerned about the possible harmful effects of parabens are making progress by following two avenues of investigation:  finding alternative ways to prevent microbial growth in their products and selling products with a shorter shelf life.  Natural/organic personal-care companies have developed preservative-free products with a shelf life of six months to one year.  Most personal care products are used daily and are likely to be finished before the use-by date.

Recommended Reading

Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal-Care Products Endanger Your Health… and What You Can Do About It

Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry

How Everyday Products Make People Sick: Toxins at Home and in the Workplace