Parabens – the safety debate continues
Parabens have been used in personal care products, such as skin care, shampoos and deodorants since the 1950’s as a way of preventing fungus, bacteria and other microbial growth, especially in the moist, warm environment of a bathroom. They are inexpensive, effective and thought to be relatively safe which is why they have been so widely used by skin care companies.
They are derived from para-hydroxybenzoic acid or PHBA, which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. The most common forms of parabens are Isobutylparaben, Methylparaben, p-Propylparaben, Benzylparaben , Ethylparaben, and n-Butylparaben.
The controversy surrounding parabens started in the 1990’s when a study linked them to breast cancer. The issue with parabens is that they have been identified as xenoestrogens – meaning that they mimic oestrogen in the body. A study in 2004, conducted by the University of Reading in the UK found concentrations of parabens, particularly methyl parabens in human breast tumours. However, the study examined only the presence of parabens in the tumours. Critics of the study note that healthy breast tissue was not examined to see if parabens were also present, so the study can not conclude that the tumour was a result of parabens being present. Other studies have also linked parabens to early onset of puberty and reduced sperm count.
The US Food and Administration and World Health Organisations consider parabens safe at low levels. Whilst the debate continues over the safety of the accumulation effects of parabens on the body continues, SKN Complex will also produce products that are paraben free.