Saturday, February 21, 2009

Techie Tuesday on Saturday: Parabens... Why Care?

I think I can keep this short and sweet. In recent years there has been a big fuss made about parabens in cosmetic applications. So what's it all about? Parabens are preservatives used to protect your personal care products from the growth of harmful microorganisms. Most personal care products have water as one of the main ingredients. Any product that contains water can grow some really nasty stuff so preservatives are a must. Sidebar-- while I'm an advocate and producer of natural personal care products, I firmly believe in the use of some sort of preservative system. I do not think it is safe to sell natural products without preservatives because the average consumer does not consider expiration dates.-- The most commonly used parabens are: methylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. They are usually used together to minimize the amount of preservatives necessary to achieve the same end result.

Parabens have been confirmed to be safe by both the FDA and the Cosmetic Ingredients Review expert panel in the concentrations used (0.01-0.3%). The problem is parabens have been found in the breast tissue of breast cancer patients. So the premise is; because parabens are in breast cancer tissue, parabens must cause breast cancer.... not necessarily true. In the studies conducted, normal breast tissue was not tested for the presence of parabens. So who knows, they may exist naturally! Parabens also exhibit estrogen like behavior. Estrogen activity has been linked to the occurance of breast cancer. However, parabens have much lower estrogen levels than what is naturally found in the human body.

Armed with this info, its now up to you to decide if you believe the hype. As a scientist, research carries a whole lot of weight to me. Personally, I am not alarmed by the 'possibility' of parabens causing breast cancer... but just in case, you won't find those preservatives in my line of products.


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