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Parabens - The Huge Health Risk in Your Cosmetics


Parabens are a group of chemicals that are widely used in cosmetics, moisturisers, tanning formulations and hair-care products (among other things). Parabens act as a preservative and have oestrogenic qualities. It is feared they may be linked to breast cancer (although this has not yet been proven). There have been questions as to their safety and a recent study, carried out by the University of Reading, England, found parabens in the tissue samples of 40 women with breast cancer. 160 samples (four from each woman) were taken. 99% of samples contained at least one paraben, and 60% of the samples contained 5 different parabens - an alarming find.

According to a government site , which explains paraben approvals for use, the tests carried out to determine the safety of these chemicals are not conclusive and are carried out by the Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR) - an industry funded group. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound too impartial or thorough to me.

Dr Darber from the university of Reading, who carried out the study on cancerous breast tissue said, “Many of the concentrations of the parabens measured in these breast tissues would be sufficient to drive the growth of oestrogen-dependent human breast cancer cells in the laboratory.” You don’t get much clearer than that. So how can we reduce our exposure to this chemical?

For a start, you can look at the labels on your skin care (or other) products and you may see one or more of the following: Methylparaben, proplyparaben, isopropylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben, sodium butylparaben. At least parabens are easy to detect because they will have the word ‘paraben’ in them. Our glossary of companies contain only those we know don’t use parabens and if they use it in some products we will warn you. We are constantly updating our database of products and companies that strive to offer the safest skin and haircare products, so check back for recommendations.

Whilst parabens have not been proven to cause cancer, it is obvious there may be a connection, so don’t wait for governments to tell us. Play safe now and buy the skincare, haircare and tanning products that are paraben free - don’t risk your health.

Our EarthFirst Green Guide contains a wide range of options for you to choose from. Always read the ingredients just to be sure and be aware of greenwashing!

What do you think?