Parabens are a group of
chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical
industries. They can be found in shampoos, shaving gels, cleansing gels,
deodorants, topical pharmaceuticals
Some parabens are also found at low levels in nature in plants
and trees and made from plant oils. Paraben is the common name for this class of
chemical, however, they are also known by other names such as esters of p-hydroxybenzoic
Parabens can be esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. Common
parabens include benzylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, methylparaben, and
Parabens have been linked to breast cancer,
but so far there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Parabens have
been found in 20 samples of
breast tumors. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=14745841&dopt=Abstract),
but it is unknown if this would be the same for healthy breast tissue.
Further research is necessary to establish the significance of parabens in
breast tumors and to establish a casual link between parabens in cosmetics and
Tests on animals involving oral administration and injection
of parabens have shown weak oestrogenic activity (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11867263&dopt=Abstract).
known to drive the growth of tumors. However, there is no evidence that underarm
cosmetics containing parabens pose a health risk, because of the low doses
involved and the fact that parabens are unlikely to penetrate into the tissue
and to accumulate there (enzymes in skin and subcutaneous fat
cells are capable of breaking down parabens).
above from mywiseowl.com
The UK study has established the presence of intact parabens
in human breast tumors. However, this research alone is insufficient to
establish that these chemicals caused the breast tumors or that the source of
the chemicals was underarm cosmetics.
NICNAS has reviewed the publication and other available data
on the health effects of parabens. The study by Darbre et al (2004) utilized a
small sample (20), no healthy breast tissue (or other tissues from affected
women) was analysed and the source(s) of the parabens found in the breast
tumours and routes of exposure were not identified. This paper however, notes
the need for further research to establish the significance of the presence of
parabens in these tumours and to establish any link between parabens in underarm
cosmetics and the development of breast cancer.
Data from published sources indicates that parabens
demonstrate weak oestrogenic activity in some experimental animals and that
enzymes present in skin cells and subcutaneous fat cells are capable of breaking
down topically applied parabens.
Following analysis of all available data, NICNAS believes that
further research is required before a causal link between parabens in cosmetic
products and breast cancer can be established.
Parabens in cosmetic products are considered safe to use when
the products are used as directed. If the public are concerned they can nominate
these chemicals(PDF 34Kb) to the Office of Chemical Safety for further