As information empowers consumers, more companies are removing harmful chemicals from their goods. Why are so many people asking for paraben free products?
Formed from acid in raspberries and blackberries, parabens are used in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. Classed as preservatives because they kill microorganisms, these chemicals often protect products on bathroom shelves.
Unfortunately, parabens have faced serious scrutiny over the last few years. Despite boasting antibacterial and antifungal properties, these same properties could be contributing to major health issues!
From breast and testicular cancer to reduced sperm counts, some evidence suggests parabens wreck havoc with our bodies. The lack of understanding of their antimicrobial mechanism is a cause for concern.
However, there’s little conclusive research about these chemicals.The Cosmetic Ingredient Review deemed them safe, provided they were firmly washed off the skin - not a reassuring assessment.
It seems removing parabens entirely could be the safest route. Despite 50 years of use in cosmetics, we’re starting to see issues caused by these additives. The following looks at the benefits of paraben free skincare.
The story of parabens
One of the main concerns with parabens is their ability to mimic human estrogen, disrupting the body’s hormone system. Unable to break down synthetic estrogen, the body accumulates it in breast tissue.
Because estrogen plays a role in the division of breast cells, prolonged paraben use could increase the risk of cancer.
In studies, it’s been suggested that parabens stimulate the growth of cancerous cells. When combined with heregulin and other chemicals, the effects of parabens are greatly magnified, acting like fertilisers for abnormal growth.
Analysing cause-and-effect is tricky. Although two studies have revealed parabens in human breast tumors, it’s almost impossible to rule out test contamination. Other studies revolved around cells grown in a petri dish - hardly an adequate simulation of the human body.
However, when Dale Leitman of UC Berkeley, a gynecologist, and molecular biologist, released his own study, considerable waves were made in the world of science. It seemed to indicate that there was cause for concern after all.
When placed next to cells, parabens turn on genes which promote cancer growth. They even stimulated growth in microscopic concentrations.
General benefits of removing parabens
Before exploring the science, what are some of the basic benefits of going paraben free? By removing these chemicals, it’s possible to reduce the risk of cancer growth.
Although this is the most frequently cited reason, there are a number of other benefits.
Benefits for men
Parabens aren’t just found in cosmetics: they’re a common additive in shampoos, medicines, and a host of other things. People of all genders and ages are at risk.
For men, a link has been suggested between parabens and sperm. A 2002 study conducted on mice showed that, upon application, parabens significantly reduced sperm counts.
By removing these chemicals from your daily routine, you could improve you/your partner’s chances of conceiving.
Like to spend time in the sun? Research suggests parabens promote skin cancer. This Japanese study drew the link in a 2006 toxicology review.
Paraben Free Alternatives
So, we have a potentially dangerous chemical that needs more research before we use it. Why is it in so many products? Simply put, there’s not enough of a hardline stance from global health organisations.
Even with studies where 99% of breast cancer tissue sampled contained parabens, there are few laws regulating use.
How can you make a change? Luckily, there are companies out there who understand the risks of parabens in skincare.
By opting for paraben free products, you’re not only protecting yourself but letting the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries know that consumers are more well-informed.
Keep an eye out for these common parabens on labels:
Even better, find products labeled “paraben free”.
Gradually, more and more retailers are beginning to sell paraben free goods. As consumers become aware of issues, there are calls for safer, more natural chemicals. Good companies have a duty to respond to the public’s wishes.