This morning I was reading an email that I received from on of my skin care groups about parabens. As many followers of natural skin care will tell you, parabens are bad. Parabens are chemical preservatives that are used in almost every mainstream personal care product on the market today. You will find then in deodorants, lotions, creams, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, and more. The reason why parabens are so widely used is because they are very effective in preventing bacterial growth and have a relatively low cost. Though the FDA says they are safe, they are believed, by some, to cause cancer. This fear has spawned a small movement of people to try natural skin care products preserved with other more natural alternatives to parabens. I myself have used Cosmocil CQ and Germall Plus in lotions and creams, both are paraben free preservatives.
So, do they really cause cancer?
According to the chemist who wrote the post, parabens have not been proven to cause cancer at all, and this whole paraben scare is really the result of misinterpretation of scientific findings. A study in the UK of 20 women with breast cancer found parabens in the tumors of 18 of the women. But... no other body tissues were sampled, no normal breast tissue was sampled, they could not identify the source of the parabens (we don't know that they came from skin care products because parabens are also present in food we eat), and they only sampled 20 women (a very small test group). Results from this study were found to be inconclusive.
So, why do we all believe parabens are bad? Well, another article I read stated, "studies began to expose the estrogen-like property of parabens. Twelve studies have confirmed estrogen-like activity in laboratory rats injected with parabens. The results indicate a weak form of estrogen, but it's there." I also found that, "scientific evidence suggests exposure to estrogen and substances that behave like estrogen may increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer." Because of the wide use of parabens in personal care products, this may indicate some area for concern, but since there is no actual scientific proof, manufactures see no reason to stop using the preservative.
Personally, I'd like to err on the side of caution.
Sure, parabens may not have actually been proven to be harmful, but if there are more natural alternatives out there, then that's what I am going to use. It's not just about preventing cancer, it's also about preventing toxic buildup in our bodies in general. Spiritually, I'm getting closer to nature. I'd like that to be reflected in my skin care as well.