What are parabens? Why should we avoid products containing them? Parabens are a type of synthetic preservative used in a wide range of cosmetics. They are commonly found in many personal care products, such as lotion, toothpaste, shampoo, shaving gel, lubricants, deodorant, skin tanning solution, and topical medication. Parabens are also commonly used as food additives.
This inexpensive preservative effectively prevents bacteria and fungi from growing in products. For many years parabens were considered safe, but today many experts recommend avoiding products that contain this artificial preservative.
Parabens have been widely used as an effective preservative in cosmetic products for many years. They were considered to have low toxicity, and caused only the occasional allergic reaction. In recent years, experts have discovered that parabens mimic the female hormone estrogen. When estrogen-like substances are absorbed by the body, they can disrupt the body’s normal hormone production. This can contribute to cancer and other health concerns.
A study conducted in 2004 at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom found a substantial amount of paraben compounds in breast cancer tumors. It is believed that parabens absorbed through the skin migrated to the breast cells and eventually caused the growth of tumors. Parabens have also been linked to male reproductive abnormalities, such as testicular cancer, sperm abnormalities and prostate disorders.
Skin is a living, breathing tissue that covers and protects the body, but it also absorbs substances that come into contact with it. When products made with chemical preservatives are used, these chemicals can be absorbed into the body. The environment may also be affected by the regular use of synthetic products. These chemicals are washed into the water supply with every use of products such as shampoo, body wash, shave gel, etc.
The amount of parabens in cosmetics may not be much, but skin care products are usually applied on a daily basis. The long-term and cumulative effects are not known with daily use of products containing parabens. Products left on the skin ,such as makeup and skin lotions, are of greatest concern because of the long exposure time and opportunity for migration via the skin into the bloodstream.
Alternative cosmetic products exist that do not include potentially dangerous parabens. Natural and organic products rely on natural ingredients that have self-preservation qualities. Many of these ingredients have natural antioxidant qualities. Although the shelf life may not be as long, the natural products offer many benefits for the skin, and do not contain the harmful artificial preservatives. Some natural preservation ingredients commonly used in natural products are grapefruit seed extract, tocopherol (vitamin E), retinyl (Vitamin A), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), potassium sorbate, many essential oils, and rosemary oil extract.
For many years parabens were considered safe, but today many experts recommend avoiding products that contain this artificial preservative. The skin is permeable, and can absorb the ingredients of the products applied to it. Natural skin care products contain alternative types of preservatives that are not harmful to the body. Using natural and organic skin products free of dangerous parabens is important for the skin and the entire body.
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