First let me start off by explaining what Parabens are.

Parabens are a class of chemicals widely used as preservatives by cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. Parabens are effective preservatives in many types of formulas. These compounds, and their salts, are used primarily for their bactericidal and fungicidal properties. They can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturisers, shaving gels, personal lubricants, topical pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solution, make up and toothpaste, and even baby care products. They are also used as food additives.

You might be asking what the big fuss is all about and what harm are they doing to us?

Well, it has been discovered that parabens can mimic the female hormone estrogen (a hormone know to play a role in the development of breast cancer), thus creating an excess amount in the body. It is now believed that this, in some cases, can cause cancerous tumors to grow in breast tissue in both males and females and speed up progression of the disease, and also lower testosterone in men. It has been stated that currently there is no conclusive evidence that parabens can cause breast cancer but there is strong evidence pointing this way and so more tests are being carried out.

It has also been suggested that parabens can contribute towards early onset of puberty, especially in girls with some as young as six displaying classic symptoms. This has also been put down to their oestrogenic properties. Again this research is far from conclusive.

Finally, parabens built up toxicity in our system putting more excess strain on our liver and interfering with our normal hormone operation, also causing some people to store excess bodyfat as well.

What can you do?

You can start taking preventive steps just to be on the safe side as there are now a huge amount of products out there now which have been developed to be paraben free. This should not be confused with organic or ‘natural’ as most still have chemicals in unless otherwise stated but they don’t have those cheeky parabens included in their formulations. Originally found only in organic/health shops, they have become more and more mainstream and can be found in many high street beauty stores, supermarkets and chemists. So shop wisely, and as the saying goes “you get what you pay for”!

The ingredients to look out for are: Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Benzylparaben, and Sobutylparaben.

Go for labels that say one or the other depending on your budget.

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