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What Is Paraben?

 

 

Parabens are a group of preservatives that are added to most cosmetic products and or some foods. Parabens are a low-cost and effective method of preserving items for relatively long periods of time. Although the chemicals known as parabens were once thought to be safe, there is some controversy over their use.

 

Function and Labeling

These preservatives are used in cosmetics and other products to protect the item against the growth of microorganisms.
It is important to be aware that the use of parabens in our personal products on a regular basis could be a risk your health.

Check product labels for: ethyl, butyl, isobutyl propyl, isopropyl and/or methylparaben.

Risk

Parabens  are also present in some foods, but these act very differently than those applied in personal care products.  First of all, in a food, other compounds are present in nature’s perfect balance. We’re talking antioxidants and enzymes that work together to create an overall healthful effect on the body.  Second, when parabens enter the body through foods, they have a much better chance to be metabolized because they’re going through the digestive system.  Stomach acids and other enzymes help to break them down to metabolites that are easily flushed out of the body.  Third, parabens behave much differently when applied to skin than when ingested in a food.

Recent Study found that parabens, when applied to skin, react with an enzyme called SULT.  In simplified terms, SULT is the enzyme that helps the body flush out estrogen.  So, when SULT enzymes are deactivated, estrogen levels increase.  Parabens were found to deactivate these important enzymes.  The study states “…these results suggest chronic topical application of parabens may lead to prolonged estrogenic effects in skin as a result of inhibition of estrogen sulfotransferase activity.”  Supporters of parabens are always talking about how little parabens are absorbed and how weak their estrogenic activity is–but with this study in mind, absorption and estrogen receptor activity really are moot points.  It’s a reaction with parabens in the skin that increases overall estrogen levels in the body.  Many reproductive cancers are estrogen-dependent and tumor growth is fueled by an excess of estrogen.  Uterine fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, irregular menstruation–all of these reproductive problems are caused by an excess of estrogen.  So why would you want to apply these compounds to your skin!? 

Another pro-paraben argument that you’ll hear is that the skin metabolizes parabens quickly and they’re flushed out of the body.  Not so!  This Study found that after a month of applying methylparaben to skin cells, it “remained unmetabolized and persisted slightly” in the stateum corneum. Additionally, it was found to affect DNA expression in the skin cells, inhibiting collagen production, and possibly leading to early aging of cells.

How To Avoid

The David Suzuki foundation reports that 75 to 90 percent of cosmetics will contain parabens.  This includes shampoo, conditioners, skin creams, lotions, nail polish, moisturizers, make-up, shaving foam, deodorant, tanning lotions and toothpaste.  There are more and more paraben-free products available on the market, so that consumers can make a choice to limit their exposure to this chemical.

Refrences:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Parabens
Parabens inhibit human skin estrogen sulfotransferase activity: possible link to paraben estrogenic effects.
Prusakiewicz JJHarville HMZhang YAckermann CVoorman RL. Source Department of Pharmacokinetics, Dynamics, and Metabolism, Pfizer Global Research and Development, 2800 Plymouth Rd., 20/342S-D, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, USA. Jeff.Prusakiewicz@pfizer.com
Effects of methyl paraben on skin keratinocytes.
Ishiwatari SSuzuki THitomi TYoshino TMatsukuma STsuji T. Source Fancl Corporation, 12-13 Kamishinano, Yokohama 244-0806, Japan. shiishiwata@fancl.co.jp

Stephanie Greenwood from Chemical Of The Day

David Suzuki Foundation: Parabens

 

 

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