If you prefer to use natural products and stay on the alert for potentially unhealthy preservatives, you’ve probably heard of parabens. These are a class of chemicals commonly used in beauty, lifestyle, and pharmaceutical goods. In her article for Real Simple, Eleni N. Gage explains: “parabens have been widely used in products to prevent bacteria growth since the 1950s…the most common are butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.” The vast majority of cosmetic and skincare treatments are formulated with these preservatives to help them stay good for many months. Parabens are also sometimes used to extend the shelf life of food products.
Unfortunately, recent research has revealed that these powerful, prevalent preservatives may pose serious health risks. At Earth’s Daughter, we’re committed to helping our customers stay healthy and beautiful with natural products. Understanding which additives to avoid can help you take charge of your wellbeing. In the following blog, we explain the top three harmful effects of parabens and describe how we can help you avoid them.
Parabens have a documented impact on both female and male hormones. Livestrong notes: “data indicate that methyl, propyl, and butyl forms of parabens interfere with the functioning of the endocrine system. Specifically, parabens are endocrine disruptors stored in the body tissue that interfere with glandular activity and hormone production.” Hormones are vital for a whole host of bodily functions, helping the reproductive system, heart, liver, and kidneys work properly. Parabens interfere with these activities, which can cause a variety of health effects.
In addition to directly disrupting the endocrine (hormone secretion) system, parabens can actually behave like certain hormones. In their Medscape article, “The Health Controversies of Parabens,” Dr. Mark G. Kirchhof and Dr. Gillian C. de Gannes explain: “the estrogenic activity of parabens was first identified in 1998 and has since been validated in vitro and in vivo.” These preservatives’ estrogenic effects can create hormonal imbalances in both women and men. Livestrong explains: “in addition to this chemical’s estrogen-like effects in women…several studies have reported low sperm counts as well as decreased levels of testosterone in men, and it was concluded that these results were related to the absorption of parabens in commercial products.” To protect your health and hormones, we recommend avoiding contact with parabens.
Many of the lifestyle products containing parabens are lotions, gels, and creams designed for topical application. Unfortunately, in many instances, these chemicals can actually have a detrimental impact on the skin. Livestrong reports: “ironically, while several of the commercial products that contain parabens are beauty products that are supposed to enhance the skin, such as lotions and moisturizers, research has found that they accelerate the skin aging process…the methyl type of parabens increases sensitivity to and damage from the sun.” According to a study conducted at the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine in Japan, “when exposed to ultraviolet rays, skin cells die at a much faster rate than normal.” In this way, parabens could accelerate the aging process, which is the exact opposite intended effect of many skincare products.
Of course, parabens’ dermatological damage actually extends beyond premature cell death. Drs. Kirchhof and de Gannes write: “parabens, as is the case for many preservatives, can be allergenic in a small subset of the population. This sensitization commonly manifests as an eczematous rash.” Between a half a percent and 3.5 percent of people are sensitive to parabens. If you fall into this category, you could experience an unsightly and uncomfortable allergic reaction.
The aftermath of parabens can become quite serious. Their endocrine and estrogenic effects may become carcinogenic in some cases. Livestrong describes the data: “in 2004, findings from a study published in the ‘Journal of Applied Toxicology’ were released indicating that parabens may play a role in the development of certain types of breast cancer.” Similarly, in her Best Health Magazine article on parabens, Anne Mullens cites this study and questions: “is the rising incidence of breast cancer linked in part to the fact that parabens…have been found in breast cancer tumours and can be isolated from other body tissues? Are declining sperm counts and increasing rates of male breast cancer and testicular cancer related to the fact that these chemicals can be absorbed into our skin?” These questions are not entirely resolved yet, but some evidence does suggest a connection between endocrine-related cancers and parabens. In any case, it’s wise to steer clear of parabens for the time being.
Chances are, when you read the label on your current lotion, you’ll find one or more parabens in the ingredients list. Given the harmful effects these preservatives can produce, you’d do better to find a replacement than continue to expose your body to them. Our all natural Aloe Vera Gel is paraben-free, 99.75 percent organic, and cold-pressed, making it the perfect alternative. Plant based and pure, this product can help you heal from sunburns, soothe rashes, treat acne, tighten your tissue, and more.
Replace your paraben-filled products with natural, plant-based ones today. Contact Earth’s Daughter to find out more about our offerings or purchase yours today.