Your Cosmetics and Cancer: What are parabens?

Avatar for Eduardo CabreraWritten by:

Do you know what is in your cosmetics and its possible relationship with cancer?

parabens, cancer

Do you know what is in your cosmetics and its possible relationship with cancer?

Read the labels well, and always look for the legend FREE OF PARABENS. This article from the United States FDA already hints at the relationship between these and breast cancer. And although they are still authorized ... Would you take the risk?

Parabens are some of the most widely used preservatives in cosmetic products. Chemically, parabens are esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid. The most common parabens used in cosmetic products are methyl paraben, propyl paraben, and butyl paraben. Typically, more than one paraben is used in a product, and they are often used in combination with other types of preservatives to provide preservation against a wide range of microorganisms. The use of paraben mixtures allows the use of lower levels, while increasing the preservative activity.

Why are preservatives used in cosmetics?

Preservatives can be used in cosmetics to protect against microbial growth, both to protect consumers and to maintain product integrity.

What kinds of products contain parabens?

They are used in a wide variety of cosmetics, as well as food and medicine. Cosmetics that may contain parabens include makeup, moisturizers, hair care products, and shaving products, among others. Most major deodorant and antiperspirant chains are currently paraben-free.

Cosmetics sold on a minor basis to consumers are required by law to declare ingredients on the label. This information is important for consumers who want to determine if a product contains an ingredient that they want to avoid. There are several types of parabens and they are generally easy to identify by name, such as methyl paraben, propyl paraben, butyl paraben, or benzyl paraben.

Does the FDA regulate the use of preservatives in cosmetic products?

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) does not authorize the FDA to approve cosmetic ingredients, with the exception of color additives that are not coal tar hair dyes. In general, cosmetic manufacturers can use any ingredient they choose, except for some ingredients that are prohibited by regulation. However, it is against the law to market a cosmetic product in interstate commerce if it is adulterated. Under the FD&C Law, a cosmetic is adulterated if, among other reasons, it carries or contains any poisonous or harmful substance that can eliminate the harmful one under the marked conditions of use, or under normal or normal conditions of use. For more information on this topic, see FDA Authority During Cosmetics and Key Legal Concepts: "Interstate Commerce," "Adulterated," and "Mislabelled."

Are there health risks associated with the use of parabens in cosmetics?

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984 and concluded that they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Parabens are typically used at levels ranging from 0,01 to 0,3%.

On November 14, 2003, the CIR began the process to reopen the safety assessments for methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in order to offer interested parties the opportunity to submit new data for consideration. In September 2005, the CIR decided to reopen the Paraben Safety Assessment to request estimates of exposure and a risk assessment for cosmetic uses. In December 2005, after considering the safety margins for exposure to women and children, the Panel determined that there was no need to change its original conclusion that parabens are safe as used in cosmetics. (The CIR is an industry-sponsored organization that reviews cosmetic ingredient safety and publishes its results in open, peer-reviewed literature. FDA participates in the CIR on a non-voting basis.)

A study published in 2004 (Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology) detected parabens in breast tumors. The study also looked at this information in the context of the weak estrogen-like properties of parabens and the influence of estrogens on breast cancer. However, the study leaves several questions unanswered. For example, the study did not show that parabens cause cancer, or that they are harmful in any way, and the study did not look at possible levels of parabens in normal tissue.

FDA is aware that estrogenic activity in the body is associated with certain forms of breast cancer. Although parabens can act in a similar way to estrogens, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than estrogens naturally occurring in the body. For example, a 1998 study (Routledge et al., In Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology) found that the most potent paraben tested in the study, butylparaben, showed 10.000 to 100.000 times less activity than naturally occurring estradiol (a form of estrogen ). Also, parabens are used at very low levels in cosmetics. In a review of the estrogenic activity of parabens, (Golden et al., In Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2005), the author concludes that based on estimates of maximum daily exposure, it was unlikely that parabens could increase the risk associated with exposure to estrogenic chemicals.

The FDA believes that there is currently no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics that contain parabens. However, the agency will continue to evaluate new data in this area. If the FDA determines that a health hazard exists, the agency will inform the industry and the public, and consider your legal options under the authority of the FD&C Act in protecting the health and well-being of consumers. .

In the European Union, the cosmetic industry has been forced to comply with much more demanding standards, forcing the elimination of personal care products with chemical substances associated with parabens, since the scientific evidence goes beyond a simple contact dermatitis as a consequence to the body's reaction to chemical compounds, but to longer-term health consequences. Hence, natural cosmetics have proliferated primarily in Europe.

What about Latin America?

It is worrying that Latin America, which is lagging behind and dependent on the United States in terms of legislation and food production, is not able to emulate the European Union and other countries that seek greater control in cosmetics and food based on the health of consumers. We have a long way to go to shed the influence of companies and lobbyists for them in regulatory bodies to get rid of parabens, microplastics that contaminate water sources or Genetically Modified Foods. Only public pressure can make a difference.

That is why Equilibrium puts forward in its products what it proclaims in this blog, and our products do not use parabens to preserve not only your health but the environment!

March 24, 2006; Updated October 31, 2007

Taken from Food and Drugs Administration

Frequently asked questions from our readers:

Parabens are chemical preservatives used in many cosmetic products to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. There are concerns about its safety due to its potential ability to mimic hormones and its possible link to cancer, although scientific studies have not yet shown a direct connection. Read more here:
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Last modified: 2024-05-17T10:04:42+10:00