A Skin Care Expert Discusses Parabens
Parabens primarily got their origin as low cost preservatives. They are becoming increasingly controversial. Wikipedia says parabens are a class of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. As a skin care expert, it can be said parabens are effective preservatives in many types of formulas – however, primarily for bacterial and fungicidal properties. Recent controversy arises because parabens have been found in low concentrations in breast cancer tumors and displayed the ability to weakly mimic estrogen. Wikipedia stats no causal link between parabens and cancer has been firmly established however.
Over the last few years the controversy about parabens began over a single 2004 study which was conducted in the UK by an oncologist in Edinborough. In this study, the researchers found parabens in the breast tissue of 18 out of 20 women who had breast cancer. The news of this study spread like wild fire on the internet, and even major commercial cosmetics and skin care companies began eliminating parabens from their products. I do not suspect it was because they necessarily felt they were dangerous, but because many consumers believed they were.
The study in question appears to have been extremely flawed. It did not bother to test healthy breast tissue as a comparison. There did not appear to be any “scientific” evidence that the parabens found in breast tissue had any direct link to breast cancer. Experimental designs must be tightly controlled; every caution must be taken to control for extraneous variables, or those things that can interfere with the results. Causation (A causes B) was absolutely not proven in this study. So, to say that parabens caused breast cancer based on the results of this study is not valid.
I have written about the need for an effective non-toxic preservative(s) in both my blog posts and other articles which I have written. Many “all natural” preservatives are simply not effective enough to pass a preservative “challenge test,” which basically puts a product through extreme circumstances to see how well it will hold up when exposed to high heat and also the introduction of mold and bacteria over a 28 day period or longer.
I believe that more rigorous scientific research needs to be done to prove that parabens are harmful. Many watchdog groups emphatically state that parabens cause cancer and are toxic, but do not necessarily have the scientific studies to back it up. Yes, parabens can cause skin irritations in some, but so can many other preservatives; it really depends on the sensitivity of the individual. It is not uncommon for people to have allergic reactions or sensitivities to some natural ingredients as well.
I choose to err on the side of caution when it comes to parabens. I believe more research needs to be done to either refute the negative conclusions that have been reached, or scientifically prove that they are potentially harmful. In the meantime, there are less controversial preservative options that are highly effective and non-toxic.
Also, please remember that the potential harm from toxic chemicals does not usually occur from the use of a single product; it is the cumulative long term exposure from a multitude of chemicals on a daily basis. When you add up all of the products we use on a daily basis and count the number of chemicals we are exposed to, it could easily add up to 200-300 a day.
Dr. Teri Dourmashkin received her Doctorate in Health Education from Columbia University. She is the Founder and President of La Vie Celeste Skin Care Inc.La Vie Celeste brings you all natural anti-aging skincare featuring R-Lipoic Acid, a powerful antioxidant.Suitable for all skin types, La Vie Celeste is the perfect union of science and nature. To learn more visit La Vie Celeste Skin Care.