What Are Parabens?
Parabens are a preservative system which has been used in many
beauty products such as lotions, cleansers, mascara.
Basically wherever water
(aqua) is used in a product, a preservative must be present otherwise that
product can begin to quickly produce bacteria, mold, and fungus, making the
product problematic, even dangerous, to your skin.
The most popular parabens found on a product ingredients label
are butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.
Parabens are actually a naturally-derived preservative. formed
from an acid found in raspberries and blackberries.
Parabens and Cancer?
There is a lot of fear around parabens and their link with cancer. Sadly this fear is a product of uninformed scaremongering and lack of education but, naturally, with parabens and cancer being linked so much throughout the internet and skincare ‘experts’ touting their link everywhere, consumers are afraid to use products which contain parabens.
The primary reason linking parabens with cancer comes from misunderstood research study done in 2004 where they were linked to breast cancer when their metabolites (not parabens themselves) were detected in cancer tissue samples.
However, shortly after this misunderstanding surfaced, Philippa Dabre, the researcher of the 2004 British Cancer study wrote in the “Journal of Applied Toxicology” stating “No claim was made that the presence of parabens had caused breast cancers”.
Indeed, noncancerous tissue from healthy breasts was never examined to see if parabens were present. Thus the presence of parabens in tumours does not prove that they caused the cancer.
Additionally, global research has proved that parabens are
broken down, metabolised and excreted harmlessly by the body – a stark
contradiction to the “parabens cause cancer” claims of the scaremongers and
More Scientific Research
There are a number of institutes and research studies which
also disperse the claim that parabens and cancer are linked:
- The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) found that parabens are safe for use in cosmetics and skincare based on their study of all the scientific evidence produced to date.
- The Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety of the EU stated that decades of long-term and short-term safety data on parabens reinforces the EU Committee’s decision that parabens are safe in personal care products.
- Based on its own research findings, the American Cancer Society does not support the claim that parabens in personal care products can increase an individual’s risk of developing breast cancer.
- The unbiased US
organisation, The Personal Care Products Council, which reviews and assesses
the safety of personal care ingredients, consolidated more the 265 studies that
reported that the use of products containing parabens cause no adverse
reproductive effects and support research that shows that parabens are safe in
personal care products.
If Parabens are Safe, Why Does Simply Skin not Use Them?
Sad but true, the reason I do not incorporate parabens in my
products is because of the amount of out-of-control scaremongering that still
occurs. The scaremongers frighten my customers and, naturally, they don’t want
to take a chance with an ingredient which has been (albeit wrongly) connected
A Warning From Science
Parabens are not the only preservative under attack by scaremongers and uneducated ‘experts’. Many more preservatives and preservative systems come under attack on a regular basis… and this is becoming dangerous.
As the EU Commission stated in June 2017: “stop stigmatising preservatives or put public health at risk.”
Indeed Martin Seychell, Deputy General of the European
Commission’s Health Directorate, has warned that an ongoing scrutiny of
cosmetic preservatives will create “real public health problems.” The growing
lack of preservatives available on the market as a result of over-scrutinising
and scaremongering is actually leading to problems for manufacturers who are
wanting to use quality preservative systems. Preservatives are used in a
product at a very low percentage but with the number of quality preservatives
falling, consumers’ skin may be exposed to lesser quality preservatives at
higher percentages in a product. I don’t see that as a positive payoff.
Putting Things into Perspective
As I mentioned earlier, parabens are naturally derived from an
acid produced in raspberries and blackberries. But they are also naturally
produced in vegetables and food that we eat on a regular basis such as soy,
cherries, blueberries, flax, cucumbers, and carrots.
The parabens produced in
these food sources are actually at a much higher degree than the miniscule
amounts of parabens used in personal care products. But I bet you haven’t recently
read an article linking blueberries with cancer or carrots causing negative
estrogenic activity, have you?
So next time someone touts the health dangers
connected to parabens or you hear something in the media designed to scare you,
think smart – remember the facts – the miniscule levels of parabens used in
your personal care products is safe.