By Well+Good NYC
“Parabens,” the term for a group of preservatives used in mainstream beauty products, wasn’t always a dirty word.
In 2004, Dr. Philippa Darbre, a research scientist at the University of Reading in the UK, published a small but pioneering study that showed high concentrations of parabens in human breast tumors.
Women everywhere flipped over their moisturizers to read the list of ingredients.
“That first paper shocked people because it was the first time intact parabens had ever been measured in the human body,” says Dr. Darbre. And while the study did not show that the chemicals cause cancer, it sounded a serious alarm.
Why? Parabens, which prevent bacteria from growing in beauty and personal-care products, are able to mimic or interfere with estrogen in the body, and exposure to estrogen is one of the primary influences on the development of breast cancer.
Since then, several studies have detected and reported parabens in human urine and tissue. In response, many beauty companies have eliminated them from ingredient lists, though they’re still used in many mainstream products.
Now, Dr. Darbre has published two new studies that shed even more light on the ways parabens enter our bodies and how they affect our health.
Here’s what you need to know about the latest research (and before refilling your beauty bag):
1. Parabens are getting into your body. In March, Dr. Darbre and her team published the results of a study that replicated the original study done in 2004, with a much larger sample size. They looked at the concentration of five parabens in breast tumor tissue. One or more types were found in 99 percent of the tissue samples, and all five were measurable in 60 percent of the samples. “The take-home message was that we validated the earlier study with a much more substantial study. Parabens are getting into the breast, and they’re getting in in significant amounts,” she explains.
2. Yup, your skin is letting them in. The parabens identified in the study were primarily intact, meaning they’ve bypassed the liver. What does this mean? You’re not getting them from your food, they’re being absorbed through your skin.
Keep reading for more here…