These clips from the internet will help you understand that parabens are not a dirty word and no reason to condemn products that contain them. Parabens are anti-microbial by nature and prevent the growth of deadly pathogens in common foods like mangoes and granadillas! They are not dangerous, cancer forming chemicals and do not even resemble an oestrogen molecule. Parabens are not Xenestrogens. Are you ready for the truth?
As I was researching the environmental impact of methylparabens and propylparabens released into the air, water and soil, I was astonished to learn that these parabens are 100% biodegradable. [A biodegradable product is one that is broken down by sunlight, water, and/or living organisms into by-products which are harmless which can be re-cycled.] I suppose it makes perfect sense that parabens are biodegradable because they are after all a naturally derived product. Many other preservatives such as thimerasol are not. Methylparabens and propylparabens released into the environment are broken down by hydroxylradicals to produce p-hydroxybenzoic acid. The p-hydroxybenzoic acid by-product is found in nature as well and found in such things as carrots, olives, cucumbers, strawberries to name just a few. The p-hydroxybenzoic acid paraben by-product is itself an anti-microbial agent and both paraben and p-hydroxybenzoic acid are a food source for some bacteria. For example a certain type of bacterium called Enterobacter metabolizes methylparaben, uses it as a sole carbon-source and energy-source; breaking parabens down into phenol. The toxic phenol by-product is then removed from the environment by certain species of Pseudomonas which can use phenol as a nutrient. In addition some species of Pseudomonas can actually utilize propylparaben as its nutrient and break it down into completely harmless carbon-based compounds.
I know that was a lot of science but the bottom line is, Methylparaben or propylparaben is not recalcitrant and can be removed from the environment by cooperative bacterial metabolism. Furthermore methylparabens have not been shown to be concentrated in the tissues of aquatic organisms. Both methylparaben and propylparaben have no known negative-environmental impact and both compounds are very effective at protecting consumers from the adverse consequences of bacterial contamination of cosmetics. As a scientist concerned with chemical contaminates of the earth, I sincerely hope that science can conclusively prove methylparaben and propylparabens have no detrimental affect on humans because it is truly "earth friendly".
See for yourself the difference in structure between a paraben and an estrogen:
General structure of a paraben (does not have 4 carbon rings)
Estriol. Note the four carbon rings, typical of a steroid hormone
3 ref: http://lib.bioinfo.pl/meid:130432
It is biologically implausible that parabens could increase the risk of any estrogen-mediated endpoint, including effects on the male reproductive tract or breast cancer. Additional analysis based on the concept of a hygiene-based margin of safety (HBMOS), a comparative approach for assessing the estrogen activities of weakly active EACs, demonstrates that worst-case daily exposure to parabens would present substantially less risk relative to exposure to naturally occurring EACs in the diet such as the phytoestrogen daidzein.
A receptor-binding assay indicated that the relative binding affinities of parabens to estrogen receptors occurred in the order: isobutylparaben>butylparaben>isopropylparaben=propylparaben>ethylparaben. These values were much lower than the binding affinity for 17beta-estradiol. Taken together, long-term exposure to parabens, which show less estrogenic activity than estradiol, can produce suppressive effects on hormonal responsiveness
It is widespread propaganda that parabens are cancer-causing endocrine disruptors, yet many common phytochemicals, e.g. from soybeans or the mycotoxins on maize, are thousands of times more potent as endocrine disruptors than are the feebly estrogenic parabens. Parabens are the safest preservatives available and are, in fact, widely distributed in many fruits, vegetables and spices and are natural components of black and green teas. Contrary to the vested interest scare tactics, Parabens are not carcinogenic, mutagenic or clastogenic (Final Report, Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, Amended Safety Assessment (of Parabens), June 13, 2006 ). The unproven linking of minute amounts of parabens in human breast tumour tissues to causality of breast cancer is grossly unscientific.
The anti-paraben hypothesis has turned out to be false. The public deserve to know this and that the p-hydroxybenzoic acid present in most plants is almost as oestrogenic as methyl- and propyl- parabens; that soya and mycotoxins on grains and cereals are 100-1000 times more so and that naturally occurring estradiol (oestrogen) is 10,000- to 100,000-fold more potent still. (Golden R et al, Crit Rev Toxicol, 35(5), 2005) Propyl paraben, the more oestrogenic of the two, has been re-evaluated for safety of acceptable daily intakes, which remains unchanged (WHO Tech Rep Ser, 940, 2007).
To the disbelief of many, para-hydroxybenzoic acid is the most widely distributed aromatic organic acid in the vegetable kingdom. All higher plants require it to produce coenzyme-Q for respiration and some as pollinator attractants / defensive chemicals. Paraben in urine from healthy humans is from decomposition of tyrosine (amino acid) and from carrot, onion, olive, strawberry, cucumber, vanilla, cocoa and tea in the diet. The now feared esters Methyl- and Propyl- paraben are nature-identical anti-microbial agents that actually do exist in nature and are indispensable to consumer safety.
Plants known to synthesise Methyl paraben include Granadilla (A Naidoo, Natural Food Anti-microbial Systems, CRC Press, 2001) and Oca, a tuber widely consumed in South America (Pal Bais H et al, Plant Physiol Biochem, 41(4), 2003). Plants known to synthesise Propyl paraben include Mango (Chirawut B, Sangchote S, 15th Australas Plant Path Soc Confer, Deakin Univ, Geelong , 26-29 Sept, 2005) and Cloudberry (Baardseth P, Russwurm J, Food Chem, 3(1), 1978). Propyl paraben is furthermore synthesised by Verticillium fungi inhabiting decaying vegetation, hence organic soil (El Aissama A, Mycopathologia, 144(2), 1999). Royal bee jelly contains methyl and propyl parabens (Ishiwata H, Yamada T, Food Sanit, 50 (7), 2000).
The ultimate irony is that manufacturers of products containing extracts of these and many other natural resources would be committing fraud if they proclaimed their products to be ?free of parabens?. As we stress our skin and age prematurely, we all tend to use progressively more topical skincare products. Unbeknown to most manufacturers and consumers, paraben preservatives actually serve consumers by ensuring that there is sufficient anti-aging oestrogen where and when needed most. Clearly the established benefits by far outweigh any perceived risks. It is time for the ?organic? product vendors who malign parabens for commercial expediency to eat humble pie and accept that they have misled consumers about topical parabens.
Petrochemical and Paraben Paranoia
Conscientious readers have probably noticed negative promotional claims for some pseudo-natural/organic personal care products that proudly proclaim, along with other selective misinformation: ?Contains no Parabens, Sodium laurel sulfate or Mineral oil?, as though these omissions somehow endowed their products with some superiority over those containing said ingredients, whereas the opposite is in fact the reality. These are tellingly not only the common denominator in most personal care products, but ironically are well established by rigorous science as the safest in their classes.
Crude oil, the feedstock for petrochemicals, is the uncontaminated remains of ancient biomass laid down millions of years ago before any human activity, and is not only perfectly natural, but is the richest repository of pure organic matter on our now very resource-challenged planet. Without a vibrant partnership of human ingenuity and petrochemicals, we would have remained in the Dark Ages. To divert raw material consumption to contemporary biomass would be suicidal, as is the trend towards bio-fuels, which further places arable land under unsustainable competitive pressures. Despite misrepresentation of petrochemicals as unnatural and risky and conversely, phytochemicals as natural, hence safe, this is not so.
Parabens have safely preserved fruit juice, beer, wine and cosmetics for 60 years. ?Organic? vendors have deliberately seeded the circulating misinformation, placed out of context to create the impression of risks that are non-existent in the real world. Ignorant journalists and Internet commerce dominating the search-engines ensure a gullible public that believe and innocently advance this clever commercial strategy. According to plan, consumers avoid these and face far greater risk from alternatives, such as grapefruit seed extract or alcohol, which are hundreds-fold more cytotoxic.
Darbre, who advanced her over-enthusiasm for this idea without evidence and became a celebrity researcher, has ever since desperately attempted to restore her professional reputation by vindicating her premature conclusion, to no avail, in spite of intensified research. Many far more potent endocrine disrupters in much higher amounts are detectable in human tissues. Darbre now far more reasonably postulates a functional role for the combined interactions of cosmetic chemicals with environmental oestrogens, pharmacological oestrogens, physiological oestrogens and phyto-oestrogens in the rising incidence of breast cancer (Darbre P, Best Pract Res Clin Endocrinol Metab, 20(1), 2006).
It is difficult to correct public perceptions once the media lose interest and no longer report on a Are the feared parabens in skin care products good (or bad) for consumers? Research has determined that regular application of parabens does indeed lead to mild localised oestrogenic effects, not only via interaction with estrogen receptors, but also via the inhibition of oestrogen sulfotransferase activity. Is any of this desirable? The perhaps surprising answer, given all the negative propaganda is yes, yes, yes! Scientists now confirm that the skin anti-aging benefits of topical products containing parabens are ironically, derived in part, from their localised oestrogenicity. (Prusakiewicz J et al, Toxicology, 232(3), 2007) Let us briefly consider the benefits.
Oestrogens in the skin are important modulators of keratinocytes, fibroblasts and melanocytes and aid in the delay, prevention and reversal of skin aging. It prevents wrinkling that arises from decreased skin collagen, elastin and skin thickness, maintains skin moisture by increasing acid mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid, maintains skin barrier function and accelerates healing
(For more Gaia Research revelations, Google the keywords ?research + parabens?. To see why alternative ?natural preservatives are far more hazardous than parabens, Google the keywords ?research + grapefruit seed extract? or ?research + alcohol?)
Ref: Stuart Thomson, Director, Gaia Research Institute
The FDA has declared that there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about using cosmetics containing parabens. Overall, clinical studies have shown parabens to be non-toxic and safe for use in cosmetics (Food & Chemical Toxicology(2005),43(7),985-1015).
Methyl and ethyl parabens are the most frequently used parabens and the most commonly used ingredient in cosmetic preparation, other than water. There have been studies done on both animals and humans that show that methyl paraben is practically non-toxic by both oral and parenteral routes (Food & Chem Toxicology(2002),40(10),1335-1373) Methyl paraben is less toxic than table salt. There is no evidence that shows that methyl paraben accumulates in the body. For those with normal skin it is practically non-irritating and non-sensitizing (Food & Chem Toxicology (2002),40(10),1335-1373) It"s been found to be non-carcinogenic, non-mutagenic, non-teratogenic, and non-embryotixic. Basically, there has been no evidence to support the idea that it is hazardous to one"s health and well being. Studies have found it to be classified as safe for use in cosmetics. The same holds true for propyl paraben as well; numerous studies have been done to prove its safety of use in cosmetics.
(Food & Chemical Toxicology(2001),39(6),513-532)
Parabens have a wide spectrum of activity against yeasts, molds, and bacteria. They are more effective in protection against fungi than they are against bacteria. Without the use of preservatives such as parabens, creams and other manufactured cosmetics would mold in about a month"s time. Some parabens are more effective at protecting against some microbial growth than others. Because of this, a combination of parabens is usually used in a product to help protect against a wider range of microbial growth. But, it is never in excess of 0.8%, as regulated by the CIR.
There has been controversy over the use of parabens in cosmetically recently over the years. There are concerns that parabens are carcinogenic and have estrogenic effects. There has been no proof behind these claims. Research has been done and studies have determined that no correlation between parabens and cancer has been found (Journal of Applied Tox(2004, 24(3), 167-176).
Parabens are an effective antimicrobial against yeast and mold & the FDA has stated that at the present time, there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of parabens in products. Parabens have been safely used in cosmetics since the 1920's & historical data indicates that parabens are safe.
FDA believes that at the present time there is no reason for consumers to be concerned about the use of cosmetics containing parabens.
American Cancer Society states "So far, studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer. What has been found is that there are many other compounds in the environment that also mimic naturally produced estrogen. The bottom line is that larger studies are needed to find out what effect, if any, parabens might have on breast cancer risk."
FDA is aware that estrogenic activity in the body is associated with certain forms of breast cancer. Although parabens can act similarly to estrogen, they have been shown to have much less estrogenic activity than the body’s naturally occurring estrogen. For example, a 1998 study (Routledge et al., in Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology) found that the most potent paraben tested in the study, butylparaben, showed from 10,000- to 100,000-fold less activity than naturally occurring estradiol (a form of estrogen). Further, parabens are used at very low levels in cosmetics. In a review of the estrogenic activity of parabens, (Golden et al., in Critical Reviews in Toxicology, 2005) the author concluded that based on maximum daily exposure estimates, it was implausible that parabens could increase the risk associated with exposure to estrogenic chemicals.