Should you be concerned about parabens?

What you need to know about Parabens

Parabens are a class of widely used preservatives in cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food products. Their efficacy as a preservative, in combination with their low cost, the long history of their use, and the ineffectiveness of some natural alternatives explains why the use of parabens is so common. Fortunately, parabens are fairly easy to identify on product labels. The most common parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. Just look for the word with -paraben at the end. Typically more than one paraben is used in a product, and they are often used in combination with other products against a broad range of microorganisms. They are typically used at levels ranging from 0.01% to .3% of the total product. Researchers have found that 90% of typical grocery items contain measurable amounts of parabens, which is why those who steer clear of potentially harmful personal care products often still carry parabens around in their bloodstream.

What is my risk?

Studies on the acute and chronic effects in rodents indicate that parabens are practically non-toxic. In individuals with normal skin, parabens are, for the most part non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Parabens can, however, cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis and rosacea in individuals with paraben allergies. The reason people are concerned about parabens is because they are endocrine disrupters that are known to disrupt hormone function. They mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. This perceived influx of estrogen beyond normal levels (from endocrine disrupters) can in some cases trigger reactions such as increasing breast cell division and the growth of tumors.

The Evidence:

There has been some studies that have detected parabens in a small sample of breast tumors (Journal of Applied Toxicology). The researcher of the study reported the type of parabens found in the tumors indicated they came from something applied to the skin, such as an underarm deodorant, cream, lotion, or body spray, and stated that the results helped to explain why 60% of all breast tumors are found in just one-fifth of the breast - the outer quadrant, nearest the underarm (NewScientist). It is important to note these findings are far from showing that an increased exposure of parabens will affect the chances of breast cancer one way or another. There is insufficient evidence to link the application of paraben containing beauty products on your skin to causing breast cancer. Breast cancer affects many women, and a high percentage of them likely use paraben containing beauty products. Maybe some future studies will uncover new evidence that will allow us to come to a more meaningful conclusion.

Conclusions

The US Food and Drug Administration: "believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens." They go on to say that if they find evidence to the contrary they will alert the public. A CDC study indicated they tested 2500 individuals and most of them had some parabens in their urine; which indicates widespread exposure to these parabens in the United states.

Paraben absorption into the body is not acutely toxic, but the effects of sustained exposure is not clear. If you are avoiding parabens in your skin/body care products, it is important to know that parabens are also found in many food items as well. A study of 267 food samples from a grocery store in Albany, NY were grouped into 8 categories: beverages, dairy products, fats and oils, fish and shelfish, grains, meat, fruits, and vegetables and were analyzed for 5 common parabens. Greater than 90 percent of these food samples contained measurable amounts of parabens.

At Bay Berry Bliss we want the informed customer to easily identify those products that they prefer. All of our all-natural products are paraben free; they don't use any preservatives. We do need to use preservatives in some of our products.  All of those products use paraben-free preservatives.


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