Parabens phobia

Paraben phobia

I no longer count the numbers of brands claiming they are parabens free as if it is a gage of safety and quality.

Parabens are natural preservatives found in food (strawberries, blueberries…) they were introduced in 1920 and are used in cosmetics and food. The most used parabens are methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben. Parabens are hydrolyzed by keratinocyte into 4-hydroxybenzoic acid when applied in the skin. 4-hydroxybenzoic acid naturally occurs in food in green tea for example.

Parabens and allergy

Parabens have been accused of allergic contact dermatitis despite that the rate of contact sensitization below 1%. Hence, brands marketed as paraben-free have replaced parabens by problematic preservatives especially from the isothiazolinones family with methylisothiazolinone in particular known skin sensitizers.

Paraben and endocrine disruptors

In vitro model on rodent estrogen receptor and yeast cells have shown an estrogen-like activity but 10 000-fold less potent as estradiol (our natural hormone). Butylparaben seems to be the most estrogenic. In an in vivo assay performs on rats with a crazy high dose 400-mg/kg by body weight butylparaben had estrogenic effect but 100 000 less potent than estrogen!
There are quite a few studies to show that paraben may have an estrogenic activity but there were mostly assay in vitro models far from reality. There is one in vivo experiment conducted by Janjua et al. on 24 volunteers that showed no endocrine disruption after 1 week of application with cream with 2% butylparaben (5 times more than the legal amount). Also, no evidence was found that paraben concentration in urine was associated with a decrease in male fertility.

Paraben and cancer

In human two alarmist studies from Dabre et al. conclude that parabens could be responsible for breast cancer without demonstrating anything with very crappy experiments set up. Especially, the study from 2004 contains major flaws making me question the reliability of the authors: the absence of healthy donors (aka no negative control), a low number of tissues analyzed and the blanks (corresponding to no tissues) was positive for parabens demonstrating contamination of parabens in the experimental setup! Finally, it seems that they were a conflict of interest in the letter to the editor… Finally, even if parabens are accumulated in breast tumors how


There are no clinical data to support that parabens are endocrine disruptors and display any harm to our health. Also, the effect of some parabens in vitro on endocrine disruption is so low that in cosmetics it is insignificant. Still, there are quite a few in vitro data that that shows an endocrine effect, hence the EU commission has reduced the concentration of propylparaben and butylparaben to 0.14%.
Also, a major point is that parabens occur naturally in our food. So don’t be alarmed by them and instead avoid methylisothiazolinone preservatives that are far more sensitizing for the skin. For now, we don’t have reports demonstrating a harmful effect of parabens on our heath unless you are allergic to them.

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Thank you for your time.


PMID: 20030880
PMID: 14745841

💧🧴Products with parabens that I love

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