Parabens are added to a wide range of beauty and personal care products. You’ll also find them in pharmaceuticals. Certain processed foods also contain parabens.
It’s safe to say that parabens are everywhere. So avoiding them is much easier said than done.
Parabens are laboratory made compounds.They are added to many products as preservatives, because of their antibacterial properties.
But they also do something else.
Parabens also mimic estrogen, which is why they’re known as “endocrine disruptors.”
Even though parabens are not the only endocrine disrupting compounds we’re exposed to, they are of high concern. Because these manufactured compounds are so pervasive.
Why You Want To Avoid Parabens
You may not be able to avoid parabens altogether. But I try to limit exposure to them as much as possible.
This means at home I eat real food made from scratch. I make my own personal care products from essential oils and a few other ingredients.
Another option is to buy natural cosmetics made without parabens. Many good options exist. You may be able to find these products at your local drugstore. They are widely available online as well.
I don’t take prescription drugs. But I know some medications are lifesaving. They may contain parabens. (So, if that’s the case, you can still avoid paraben exposure elsewhere.)
Parabens In Food
One of the easiest (and also one of the hardest) ways to avoid parabens is to eat more real food. This is food made from wholesome ingredients, as opposed to junk food that is highly processed, with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Parabens are added to various types of products, such as beer, packaged sauces, baked goods, processed desserts, soda and even some brands of ice cream.
Some products even contain multiple kinds of parabens. So it’s important to read the label. You will see unappetizing ingredients, such as propyl paraben, isopropyl paraben, isobutyl paraben and butyl paraben.
These compounds are generally found in highly processed items. So one more reason to eat real food.
(These same types of processed foods are also likely to contain genetically modified ingredients. In the United States, most of the processed products on grocery store shelves are made with GMO’s. This post explains why many people now like to avoid GMO’s.)
Parabens in Shampoo
Many shampoos and conditioners are made with parabens. But you can probably find more natural offerings at your drugstore.
An added bonus is that these plant-based formulas will probably be made without sulfates as well. Sulfates are harsh chemicals that you don’t necessarily want on your hair.
You’ll probably pay more for a plant-based product. But eventually I’m hoping that paraben-free shampoo become more of the norm, instead of the exception.
Soaps can also contain parabens. I buy my paraben-free soap at the Dollar Tree Store.
I also make my own face moisturizing cream. This is really easy to do. If you’re interested, here’s a recipe for Frankincense Face Cream.
(Frankincense essential oil is now found in a wide range of natural beauty products. I’ve seen reports that this Biblical resin was used by Cleopatra. But, of course, I have no way of confirming that.)
Also, I either use natural deodorant made without parabens that I order online. In the past I’ve also made my own deodorant with coconut oil and a few other ingredients. I used it for an entire summer and it worked great.
Remember that anything you put on your skin makes its way to your bloodstream. The skin is an efficient route for transporting chemicals into the body.
Are Parabens Bad for You?
The biggest worry with parabens seems to be their estrogenic properties. Whether or not this poses a health risk remains a matter of debate.
Much of the concern centers on whether parabens can fuel a hormone driven cancer. (Breast cancer is often driven by estrogen.)
Some holistic healers sounded the alarm on parabens awhile ago. (I stopped using products with parabens years ago, after seeing alternative medical advice to avoid these compounds.)
In recent years, the mainstream WedMD has also expressed reservations. A 2015 article notes that, “New research suggests, though, that they (parabens) may be more harmful than previously thought.)
This article cited one study that showed parabens greatly accelerated the rate of breast cancer cells in the lab. This happened even at very low concentrations. (Even though this wasn’t a clinical trial, it’s nonetheless alarming. Clinical trials would be done on humans, and would be designed to show if parabens do indeed raise the cancer risk. Until that happens we can’t say for sure that using parabens raises your risk of breast cancer.)
Also, this article noted more research showing that parabens are found in the urine of nearly everyone. Levels are higher in people who use more personal care products.
In the end, I believe, it comes down to doing your own research. Being informed.
I’ve decided not to wait for the definitive study. Because it’s easy enough to stop using products with parabens right now.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
For More Reading
WebMD Article On Parabens and Breast Cancer