Written By Admin
Dated: June 25, 2007
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Parabens and their effects
Parabens are something that most people aren't aware of - although many of us use them on a regular basis. Parabens are a chemical compound of para-hydroxybenzoic acid, and common types of parabens include butyl, propyl and ethyl parabens. Less common types include benzylparaben and isobutylparaben.
Parabens occur naturally in such things as blueberries, prunes and cinnamon although all parabens used commercially are made synthetically. A common use for parabens is as a food additive, usually to add colour or flavour, and they are also known for their ability to reduce the effects of bacteria and spoilage. They are also commonly found in oil and glue products.
Parabens are found in a variety of everyday products - cosmetics, deodorant, face cream, shampoo and toothpaste. Check the list of ingredients on one of these products in your home and you will almost certainly see that parabens are included - an estimated 90% of cosmetic products include parabens.
For many years, parabens have been considered safe, both in the UK and overseas, as they are virtually non-toxic. An allergic reaction or sensitivity to parabens is extremely rare - especially considering how widely used they are. However, several studies in recent years have suggested that parabens might be more harmful than we think, although many results are inconclusive.
Studies have found that the biggest risk from parabens seems to be from the use of products that require a prolonged exposure to skin, such as skin creams and facial lotions. The longer that the parabens are on the skin, the more opportunity there is for parabens to be absorbed. When used in skin care products, parabens are absorbed directly into the blood stream rather than through the gastrointestinal tract.
One type of paraben - methylparaben - has also been linked to the premature aging of skin. A study undertaken in Japan indicated that certain cosmetic products may cause skin to age excessively when exposed to ultra-violet rays. Ironically, this compound can be commonly found in products designed to fight the effects of aging.
Some tests have indicated that parabens have caused an increase in oestrogen which can possibly affect the male and female reproductive organs. Some studies in men have shown that a low sperm count and a decrease in testosterone are directly related to the intake of parabens.
One of the biggest areas of concern is the effect of parabens on breast cancer. Several studies have found traces of parabens in women with breast cancer. There seems little doubt that parabens can affect breast tissue - but whether they actually increase the possibility of breast cancer is still uncertain.
It's difficult not to come into contact with parabens - they are used in so many products that we use daily. Use of parabens is still legal in the UK and it's an area that will continue to be watched carefully. If you are concerned, an increasing number of products are now being manufactured without parabens.