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Skincare and cosmetics can be a cause of cancer or infertility

Since 1920, Parabens have been used as artificial preservatives for cosmetics and body care products to last long. It can cause cancer.

Since 1920, Parabens have been used as artificial preservatives for cosmetics and body care products to last long. It is because, as cosmetics contain ingredients that can biodegrade, they are likely to get bacteria and molds destroying them before time. Hence, these chemicals are added to prevent the chemicals from getting worse and increase the shelf life of the product.

However, in the past few years studies have raised concern over the use of parabens as they can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs. It can affect birth outcomes, forms skin irritation, as well as increase the risk of cancer.

In a study conducted in the US in 2006, parabens were detected in nearly all urine samples taken from adults regardless of demographic.

Products that contain Parabens

Parabens are typically used in a wide variety of leave-on and rinse-off products, such as shampoos and conditioners. It is because those with a high water content are easily prone to fungi and gram-positive bacteria. These chemicals have a broad spectrum of activity against yeasts, molds, and bacteria.

Moisturizers, face, and skin cleaners, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving gels, toothpaste, makeup, and many other liquid or semi-fluid state products also contain parabens. Due to the use of paraben-infused products, these chemicals are absorbed into the body through the skin, metabolized, and excreted in urine and bile. Therefore, daily use of these products, or multiple products containing parabens, results in direct and continuous exposure.

In a study, comparing paraben levels in the bodies of women, men, adolescents, and children who regularly use cosmetics and those who do not, it was discovered that personal care products have the highest exposure to paraben. A 2018 study revealed that adolescent girls who wear makeup on a daily basis had 20 times the levels of propylparaben in their urine compared to those who never or rarely wear them.

Types of Parabens

There are six types of Parabens that are most commonly used in makeup and skincare products- methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, isopropyl-, butyl-, and isobutyl paraben. Where the rate of hazard done by Propylparaben and Butylparaben is seven, Isopropylparaben and Isobutylparaben stand at eight and have stronger estrogenic activity.

Methyl- and ethyl-, however, are shorter-chain parabens and are used in combinations, whereas butylparaben is often used alone.

Parabens in food

Parabens are not only found in cosmetics but one can also be exposed to them through packaged food and drinks. In 1970, propylparaben was designated as “generally recognized as safe” in addition to food up to 0.1 percent (CDC 2016). However, recent studies believe that this safety information is outdated, and certain delicacies can serve parabens on plates along with the health effects associated with them.

Effects of Paraben on Health

Endocrine disruption and reproductive harm

Whether male or female, parabens can act like the hormone estrogen in the body of all and affect their reproductive system functioning, reproductive development, fertility, and birth outcomes. These chemicals can also disrupt one’s hormone production.

According to scientists, the estrogenic potency of paraben increases with its length and branching side chains. On the other hand, in animal studies, propyl-, isopropyl-, and isobutyl parabens are seen to disrupt hormone signals. Whereas, butylparaben results in harmful to female reproductive development.

In another animal study conducted in 2014, developmental exposure to butylparaben was observed to have harmed male reproduction as well by decreasing sperm production and lowering testosterone levels. Sperm count was decreased at very low doses of only 10 mg/kg of body weight per day.

Meanwhile, in human studies in 2013, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that urinary propylparaben decreased fertility. In 2016, experts linked butylparaben and total urinary paraben levels with decreased fertility, as indicated by decreased menstrual cycle length. In 2017, it was confirmed that butylparaben levels present in a mother’s urine and in the cord blood were associated with increased odds of pre-term birth and decreased birth weight.

Skin irritation

The skin can be sensitive to paraben-containing products, which results in irritation. Studies have shown that it is the result of the side-chain length of parabens.

Endocrine disruption and cancer

Environmental estrogens could contribute to the risk of cancer, particularly breast cancer in women. It is a concern that propylparaben has the ability to alter the expression of genes and accelerate the growth of cancer cells.

A study conducted by experts at the University of California-Berkeley in 2016, discovered that low doses of butylparaben, which was not considered harmful earlier, worked in conjunction with other cell receptors to switch on cancer genes and increased the growth of breast cancer cells.

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