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Are there in fact paraben dangers? Nowadays, many products on the market include an ingredient called parabens. There are six different types of parabens used in products: methylparaben, ethylparaben, proplyparaben, isoproplyparaben, butylparaben, and isobutylparaben. If a product shows in the ingredients any of these six names, then it means it contains parabens.
Parabens are a synthetic compound used as a preservative in a wide range of health, beauty, and personal care items such as cosmetics, deodorants, shampoos, and body washes. Their purpose is to help products have a longer shelf life and stop the growth of fungus, bacteria, and other potentially damaging microbes. Even as much as 90% of grocery items contain some amount of parabens as a preservative.
Parabens Disrupt the Endocrine System
One paraben danger includes the disruption of the endocrine system. Parabens mimic the hormone estrogen which can disrupt the body’s hormone system. High lifelong exposure to estrogen could increase ones risk of developing breast cancer (more studies and tests are being conducted to further prove this). Both the hormone estrogen and synthetic chemicals can play a role in stimulating the division of breast cells. In turn, this can affect other hormones that stimulate breast cell division.
Since the body alone cannot easily break down synthetic estrogen, it can accumulate in the breast tissue fat cells. In a 2004 study, it was found that some concentration of methylparabens were found in breast tumors. Even with this finding, they still could not fully determine that methylparaben was the exact cause of the breast tumors.
Due to the above study (and others like it), there is still no definite confirmation of the fact that parabens can increase the risk of breast cancer because it is impossible to determine exactly where the parabens came from. Some believe they came from deodorants and antiperspirants containing parabens which was applied near the breast tissue daily. Even so there is no indisputable study proving this, simply a 2017 study stating that said parabens may be more dangerous than previously thought.
Parabens Can Cause Early Puberty
Since parabens can disrupt the endocrine system as they mimic other hormones, they can cause early puberty in both adolescent girls and boys. The endocrine system releases hormones into the bloodstream as well as being involved in functions related to reproduction, waste elimination, digestion, and metabolism. Since parabens are synthetic estrogens, they can disrupt this system and can lead to early puberty. Over the past several decades, the age of puberty has been decreasing due to this. It causes girls at a younger age to exhibit development of breasts and pubic hair. For boys, it could lead to testicular enlargement and breast development.
Parabens Decrease Sperm Levels in Men
Besides potentially causing breast cancer and early puberty, parabens may also disrupt the male reproductive system. In research done by Tokyo Metropolitan Research Library of Public Health, they found that sperm count decreased in lab rats that were administered parabens. The amount of sperm that decreased was dependent on the amount of parabens they received. The higher the paraben levels, the more notable decrease in sperm concentration.
Parabens in Our Foods
Paraben dangers are also present in many of our modern day foods. They are used as a preservative and are either naturally derived parabens or synthetic chemicals. The naturally derived parabens come from a substance found in fruits and vegetables called Para-Hydroxy Benzoic Acid (PHBA). They are used in foods to give them a longer shelf life, basically acting as a preservative. Since the claim is that parabens in foods are minor and intake is isn’t huge, brands say it should not be of any concern. Even the Food & Drug Administration claims that it is safe and without risk with current exposure levels.
Paraben Dangers Overall
Paraben dangers are something that individuals should simply be aware of and can consider when deciding what products to use in their homes and daily life. The CDC is still continuing long-term studies on the paraben dangers and their risks while the European Union has even prohibited the use of parabens in many of their products, especially those for children. While parabens are thought to be quickly eliminated from the body, consistent daily use still increases the body’s lifetime exposure and risk which is why there is now an uptrend in the attempt to decrease the use of these chemicals in foods and hygiene products altogether.
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