The problem with parabens: why you should avoid them
Are these common chemical additives hiding in your body lotion? Here is why you should check the label to ensure they are not.
Parabens are chemical ingredients which have been widely used in cosmetics and skincare items, as well as in some pharmaceuticals and foods. They act as synthetic preservatives, and were included to prevent creams and lotions from spoiling or becoming rancid, due to humidity or bacteria, yeast or fungi.
However, parabens can trigger skin irritation, redness, scaling, dryness and allergic reactions, especially in skin that is sensitive, damaged, burnt, broken or ageing. They are particularly damaging for people with inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis.
More critically, scientific research shows that parabens are known to disrupt the human endocrine system and alter the body’s hormonal activity, an effect which can harm fertility and reproductive function and affect the health of babies born to mothers exposed to parabens. These hormonal changes include parabens’ ability to mimic oestrogen, the female sex hormone, in the body, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Research studies have also found traces of parabens in the breast tissue of women with breast cancer, suggesting that they are not just taken up and absorbed by the body, but lodge in the breast tissue and possibly act as a trigger for cancer development.
A report from the US-based Environmental Working Group which tested urine samples in men and women have shown that they are widespread across the population. In the long-term, endocrine disruption can cause other physical and neurological health disorders, including adult-onset acne, early puberty in girls, breast development in men and boys, and thyroid dysfunction.
Parabens also pose a problem for the environment: being easily and regularly washed off the body in the shower of bath, they go down the drain and into the water supply. Water treatment plants have protocols in place to remove parabens from wastewater, but they are not always effective, and samples taken from algae, dolphins and polar bears have all been tested and found to be high in these chemicals.
Information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace advice or treatment from qualified healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to treat or diagnose. Always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have any allergies or diagnosed conditions, or are taking prescription medications, always consult your healthcare professional before taking nutritional or herbal supplements.
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