According to a study in Journal of Applied Technology, January 2012, parabens were found in 99% of breast tissue sampled from breast cancer mastectomies between 2005 to 2008. Measurement of Paraben Concentrations in Human Breast Tissue at Serial Locations Across the Breast From Axilla to Sternum, as the study was named, took samples from four different points in the breast and found all five types of parabens in 60% of the samples. The samples were taken from 40 mastectomies.
The use of parabens has long been linked to cancer, particularly those found in deodorants have long caused public concern. Parabens are chemicals commonly used as preservatives in creams, lotions, soaps and other personal care products. They are also found in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and food. Because parabens mimic estrogen when introduced to the human body, and are easily absorbed through skin, many people believe that there are health risks to using them. In addition, paraben containing deodorants have been suspect for a long time because the underarm area is so close to the breast area and parabens can easily travel. The cosmetics and personal care industry has responded by offering paraben-free products and nowadays it is no longer odd to find them in all stores. However, even more companies continue to use them in their products because they are so cheap.
While the study was not able to point out where the parabens that were found in the samples came from, it did say that other studies have found them present in not just human tissue but also urine, breast milk, and blood. Parabens were also found in samples from women who did not use deodorant and no correlations were found between the amount of parabens and age, time spent breastfeeding, or tumor location. The study also noted that the finding of parabens in cancerous tumors does not mean that parabens cause those tumors.
In layman’s terms what this means is that it can not be conclusively stated that parabens cause cancer, and it can not be conclusively stated that parabens do not cause cancer. What can be said is that parabens are easily absorbed through human skin and are commonly found in our bodies, including in cancerous tumors. So while parabens may have no business being in urine, blood, breastmilk, or tissue, they are there nonetheless. If you are concerned with parabens the easiest way to avoid them is to look for labels that state your personal care products are paraben-free. In addition, check the ingredients list for names like methylparaben, propylparaben, butyparaben, or benzylparaben.
It’s always a good idea to check ingredient labels and know what you are putting in your body. Chemicals are so prevalent in all facets of life nowadays that it’s a good idea to be an informed consumer. Whether you are avoiding parabens in your shampoo or additives in your ice cream, check the label and avoid suspect chemicals. Continued studies will show whether parabens are truly harmful or not. Until then, be aware of current studies and read your labels.