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Written by HCHW Writers

Parabens are synthetic preservatives frequently used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed to both adults and children, such as shampoos, conditioners, hair styling gels, nail creams, foundations, facial masks, skin creams, and deodorants.

Parabens can be an ingredient in baby lotions, shampoos, and other personal care products for children. Methyl and propyl parabens are also allowed for use as food preservatives in small quantities. They are considered “Generally Recognized As Safe” for food uses. The CDC has detected parabens in virtually all Americans surveyed.

What are the potential health impacts of parabens? 

  • EWG’s Skin Deep database, which compares cosmetic ingredients to over 50 international toxicity databases, indicates that parabens are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation.
  • According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders.
  • Parabens have been found in breast tumors, but there is no conclusion on if parabens play a role in cancer development.

Follow these easy steps to avoid exposure to parabens:

  • Read labels (even on “natural” products). Look for the ingredients butylparaben, ethylparaben, methylparaben, or propylparaben on ingredient listings on personal care products and processed food packaging.
  • Choose whole, certified organic and minimally processed products & items which generally do not contain synthetic preservatives.

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