What are Parabens and Why Do We Need To Avoid Them?

According to Dr. Philippa Darbre of the University of  Reading in the United Kingdom, 99% of cancerous breast tissue studied contained parabens.  This is a frightening number especially since it seems like parabens can be found in almost all skin, hygiene,  and beauty products.  This also brings up the question of what exactly parabens might be.

Simply put, parabens are synthetic preservatives. They come under the guise of several names like methylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and parahydroxybenzoate.  As they are easy and inexpensive to produce, many companies have begun adding parabens to products despite their health implications. Everything from toothpaste to deodorant, sunscreens, shampoos, skin lotions, eyedrops, bandages, and even food products like salad dressings, soft drinks, baked goods, and some frozen foods have been found to contain parabens.

The fact that most of us are ingesting or absorbing parabens multiple times a day is quite disturbing, as it has been discovered that these preservatives can disrupt the endocrine system, disrupt hormones, and cause cancer.  Parabens contain something called xenoestrogens  which can disrupt the body’s hormone system and mimic estrogen. A study at Cornell University cited that heightened estrogen exposure can increase breast cancer risk.  It has also been found to decrease sperm count in laboratory tests, as well as be a cause of early onset puberty. As our bodies can’t break down this synthetic form of estrogen it can accumulate in our fatty cells causing a myriad of other health concerns.

Being armed with this knowledge of what parabens are, what harm they can do, and where they can be found is a surefire way to help us avoid them.  Read labels and opt for foods and products that are paraben free.  Living as clean as you can is always a prime piece of the health and wellness puzzle and one we should try using as often as possible.

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