Parabens are a sort of preservative used in cosmetics in general and shampoo in particular. They are even used in some foods and medicines. Parabens are used to inhibit microbial growth, and they are not a new substance – as far back as the 1920s, parabens were used as preservatives.
You can recognize them in ingredient lists on shampoo bottles – known variously as “methylparaben, propylparaben, benzylparaben and butylparaben,” all end in “paraben,” making them fairly easy to recognize. Why are some people concerned about the safety of parabens? Should you be concerned?
Here is a list of some of the common concerns with parabens.
1. Breast cancer
A 2004 study showed traces of five parabens in cancerous breast tumors. Although the study did not prove the parabens caused the cancer, parabens do have estrogen-like activity in the body, and excess estrogenic activity is highly implicated in breast cancer.
The concern regarding this study is that it clearly shows that parabens are capable of remaining intact in human tissue, and are not necessarily excreted from the body quickly and easily, as was once thought. The 2004 study is inconclusive, but that is the point – the study does not prove that parabens are safe, either. It raises important questions about the safety of parabens.
2. The water supply
When you use shampoo that contains parabens, those parabens go down the drain and into the public water supply each time you wash your hair. If you have a septic system, the parabens will be excreted into the leach field, and thus into the general environment. Ground water, creeks, streams, springs, and other water supplies are therefore contaminated with each rain.
Municipal water systems are obligated to sanitize water by killing bacteria and other microorganisms before it is considered drinkable tap water. Parabens, however, are not microorganisms. Like other chemicals dumped into the water supply, parabens can easily go “full circle” in the water supply, going from shower drain to rivers and back to the water treatment facility. Parabens on the skin are one thing, but the effects of actually drinking them is something else to consider.
3. Baby products
There is no limit on the amount of parabens that manufacturers can use in shampoos; the amount is not regulated. Babies, with their smaller bodies and less-developed systems, are more at risk for all toxins and chemicals than adults. So be sure to read ingredient lists on baby cleansing products.
Parabens are a controversial substance. The studies are not definitive regarding the safety of parabens; parabens have not been proven unsafe, but they have not been proven safe, either. Due to this doubt, it is better to be safe than sorry and avoid parabens.
If you liked this post, submit your email address below to get new posts by email: