The Paraben Problem

Anonymous asked what parabens are and why they are supposedly bad for your health.

Parabens are (without going into extreme chemistry, which I’ve never taken…) a form of preservative.  They give the product a longer shelf-life and act as antibacterials and antifungals.

Some studies have been conducted on cancer patients (specifically, breast cancer), where parabens have been found in very low concentrations within the malignant tumours.  However, no direct causal link has been distinctly found between the two.

Parabens are all capable of very low-level estrogenic activity.  However, this activity has only been observed in samples containing more than 25,000 times the amount of parabens in a common product containing these compounds.

Some minor studies have linked parabens with DNA damage when they interact with UVB rays, though the findings were inconclusive.

The decision over whether to avoid parabens is really up to you.  Personally, I think if something is going to give me cancer, it’s not going to be the minuscule amount of preservatives found in my cosmetics (try sun damage, radioactivity, secondhand smoke…).  A lot of naturalists tend to avoid parabens as theyare synthetic.

More and more companies are now moving away from using parabens in their products due to the increased concern over their possible side-effects, although this is more of a marketing move than a safety concern (the allowable level of parabens in cosmetics is much higher than many companies actually use.)

However, due to their extreme efficacy and relatively low cost, it’s going to be hard to avoid them completely if you want to be able to use some of the best products on the market.

No natural alternatives have been found that mimic parabens with any efficacy.


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