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Parabens: Are they just another ingredient, or a danger to your health?

on it. Although individual personal care products are restricted to a limited amount of each chemical ingredient within safe limits allocated by the FDA, the overall accumulated exposure from many of these products could go beyond the limited threshold of chemicals. Such a scenario could lead to unpredictable results to the human body.

With parabens being the most commonly used synthetic preservative in personal care products, various debates within the scientific community have risen about the safety and effects of this chemical. The function of parabens have been to significantly increase the lifespan of beauty and personal care products; they can prevent mold, bacteria and other unsettling things from taking home in your skincare or makeup. However, the human body can actually absorb around five pounds or more of such chemicals from these products every year, making it possible for parabens to seep into your body’s system. Why is this so scary? Well, parabens can actually mimic your body’s hormones, which could then lead to the frightening dysfunction of the endocrine system.

This is especially disconcerting due to how easily parabens can mimic estrogen; an unbalanced amount of estrogen can actually increase the risk of breast cancer, since the hormone has factors in affecting the stimulation of breast cell division. Other than skin cancers, breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in american women. Another disturbing thing is that it is difficult for your body to break down synthetic estrogen that originated from parabens, making it easy for these to accumulate in breast tissue and fat cells. There have been studies done where concentrations of parabens, especially methylparaben, have been found to be present in human breast tumors.

Moreover, there have been studies done on how parabens affect the male reproductive system. In one study by the Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, when parabens were administered to rats, the rats’ sperm production levels actually substantially decreased. The higher the dose of parabens administered to the rats, the more of a decrease in sperm concentration was seen in the rat’s reproductive system.  

However, for now, there is no solid and conclusive settlement in the scientific community on whether or not parabens can truly cause negative effects such as cancer and other disruptions to the body. There are only studies that can convey certain correlations that could be caused by paraben use. Fortunately, some product companies have become more conscious of the possible consequences of this ingredient, and have made paraben-free alternatives for customers. There are also vegan and organic personal care products that you could look into. These products may use natural preservatives and ingredients which pose little to no potential risk when absorbed into the skin. 

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