Parabens - What Do They Mean For Me?

Have you read the ingredients on your various food, drug and cosmetic containers and wondered what they truly were? If you read the ingredients listed, you have no doubt seen such items listed as methyl, ethyl, propyl, butyl, isopropyl and isobutyl. But what are they? They are parabens and they are used in everything from shampoo, moisturizer, spray tanning solution, toothpaste, makeup, hair care products, shaving products and more. But what are parabens? They are the most widely used synthetically made preservatives in food, cosmetics and drugs. They are greatly useful and effective in preventing the growth of fungus and bacteria (usually introduced by us as we use the products) and are used to preserve products and extend their shelf life. Parabens have been used for decades as preservatives in the food, drug and personal care and cosmetic industries.

There are however, rumors regarding a possible connection of parabens and cancer. The FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration) and the European Commission of Consumer Affairs believe there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of anything containing parabens. The mainstream cosmetic industry also believes that parabens are safe based not only on their long-term use and safety record, but also by recent scientific studies.

There has been no direct evidence of a link between parabens and cancer within the scientific studies conducted. In fact, epidemiologists (scientists who study the effects of products on the population) have found no direct link between underarm products and breast cancer. It is important to note that these studies, which have been conducted in animals, are observed only when they are dosed with extremely high amounts of parabens – far greater than anyone would be exposed to under actual conditions of use or with repeated use. Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less influence than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen. Furthermore, parabens are used at extremely low levels in cosmetics. This is why you will find them listed toward the end of the ingredients list.

Did you also know that some parabens are found naturally in plants? Organically occurring parabens are found in plants including soy, vegetables, and fruits like blueberries. The parabens within these plants act as natural antimicrobial agents. Interestingly enough, most man-made parabens are identical to those found in nature.

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