Ana María Aguirre A.
Master in Public Communication of Science
What are parabens?
Parabens are chemical preservatives that prevent the formation of fungi and bacteria in products for human consumption such as cosmetics, to protect the product (extend its useful life) and consumers.
They can be presented on labels under the following names:
Why should we avoid them?
Parabens have been linked to breast cancer. Especially in cosmetics such as creams and makeup, they are products that we use daily and that remain on our skin (unlike, for example, shampoo, which is removed with water) for many hours a day. The skin is the largest organ in the human body and is absorbing these chemicals all the time.
The problem is also that although a small amount of parabens is used in each product, almost 90% of what we consume contains it (toothpaste, creams, makeup, food, medicines) and it is the cumulative effect on the body that is worrying. That is why the ideal is to try to create a balance between those that contain parabens and those that do not, to avoid this excessive accumulation.
How are parabens related to breast cancer?
According to studies cited by organizations dedicated to cancer research in countries such as the United Kingdom, in addition to articles published in scientific journals such as Scinetific American, traces of parabens (intact) have been found in breast tissues and in samples of cancerous tumors, and the problem is that parabens are hormone disruptors, they imitate hormones such as estrogen, which in excess are what cause tumors and the division of breast cells.
The FDA has not yet banned the use of parabens in personal care products, however the European Union already did so in 2012.
Many manufacturers of natural products, like us, have found ways to use natural preservatives and thus avoid chemicals in most of our products, which, although the useful life of the cosmetic is shortened (6 to 12 months), if used daily They are consumed within that period or before they expire.
You can check if the products you are using contain parabens or chemicals that are toxic and harmful to your health in the Environmental Working Group's free database (Skin Deep):