That's a complicated question, with a wide range of answers, even among scientists and researchers. Some say parabens are a big cause for concern, others say they aren't so bad. Admittedly, we're prone to err on the side of caution when it comes to questions of ingredient safety.
We can tell you that, over the years, we’ve kept an eye on information about a tie between chemical cosmetics and certain types of cancer. BreastCancer.org says it best:
While the chemicals in cosmetics make us look, feel, and smell better, research strongly suggests that at certain exposure levels, some of these chemicals may contribute to the development of cancer in people.
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re sharing some of the intel we’ve gathered, along with a few tips for keeping potentially harmful chemicals out of your daily routine.
What Are Hormone Disruptors?
Many potentially harmful ingredients fall in the broad category of “hormone disrupting chemicals.” It’s a term that’s used a lot because many chemical cosmetics include a cocktail of synthetic ingredients, making it difficult to pinpoint a single specific culprit.
“Hormone disruptors can affect how estrogen and other hormones act in the body, by blocking them or mimicking them, which throws off the body's hormonal balance,” says BreastCancer.org.
Given estrogen’s ability to make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer form and grow, substances which mimic or tamper with the body’s natural hormonal balance could trigger an unwanted development or reaction.
Parabens are an artificial preservatives that have been in use since the 1920s. They’re a hormone disrupting chemical used to prevent the formation of mold and bacteria, thereby extending the shelf life of personal care products. It’s estimated that between 75 to 90 percent of products on the market contain at least one paraben.
A 2015 study at University of California Berkeley isolated parabens and observed their effect on the human body. The Environmental Working Group reported on the findings of this breakthrough study:
The study shows that when parabens interact with other biochemical changes in breast cancer cells, the effect is much stronger and could lead to faster, more aggressive growth of tumors and formation of malignant cancer.
Previously, it was thought that parabens in cosmetics weren’t harmful because they were included in such low doses. However, this study found that when parabens engage with other biochemical changes in breast cancer cells, “the effect is much stronger and could lead to faster, more aggressive growth of tumors and formation of malignant cells.”
How Can We Protect Ourselves?
Prevention is the best medicine. To us, that means reading our labels, and throwing away any products with ingredients with “–paraben” at the end. Common names include ethylparaben, methylparaben, butylparaben, propylparaben, isopropylparaben, and isobutylparaben.
Industry change starts with companies and individuals looking for a better way to approach beauty. Cate McNabb Cosmetics was formulated to be a cleaner alternative to chemical makeup. We never include parabens or phthalates, and all of our products are cruelty-free.
We’re here to answer any and all questions about our ingredients & we welcome the opportunity to support those looking to clean up their beauty routine. Simply drop a note in the comments or reach out to us via email or phone.