What are Parabens?
Parabens are chemicals used as preservatives in consumer products.
Why are they Bad for Us?
If you happen to suffer from Endometriosis, or any other estrogen-driven condition (like breast cancer), please be aware that parabens mimic estrogen. Just like soy. Just like flax. Parabens are an “endocrine disruptor,” which alters our body’s hormone levels. They’ve been found to play a role in breast cancer cell growth, too.
These chemicals are absorbed through our skin and what we eat and drink. Studies have shown, though, that parabens are absorbed more by the body through the skin than if you were to consume them.
A study published in Environmental Research in May of 2021 concluded that parabens found in cosmetics and personal care products may increase the risks of Endometriosis, but more studies were needed.
What Products have Parabens?
Read the labels. If the ingredients identify “paraben” in the word, you’ve found it: Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Benzylparaben, Methylparaben and Propylparaben. Many products are now labeled Paraben-Free, so all you have to do is read to be a little extra cautious.
A 2016 study identified that 80% of personal care products contain parabens and that they (and endocrine disrupting hormones) affect women’s health. Products that may contain parabens include: antacids, anti-aging creams, conditioner, creams, deodorant, face masks, hair gel, lip balm, lipstick, lotions, make-up, mentholated rubs, pharmaceuticals, shampoo, shaving gel soap, suppositories, some pre-packaged food (dairy, fish, ketchup, mayonnaise, oils, pickles, and poultry, just to name a few), and toothpaste. The possibilities are endless.
EWG’s Skin Deep has a cosmetic’s database and identifies products which ingredients contain parabens. (Warning : you’ll be sifting through a lot of information). It also has a search feature so you can look for the products you use, examine the ingredients, and get some feedback on how safe this organization (Skin Deep) thinks it is for you. I looked up my facial cleansing regimen (Andalou Natural 1,000 Roses cleansing foam, day cream, exfoliator, facial serum, mask, night cream, and toner) and am happy to report no parabens…however, I do need to take the time to research the other unpronounceable ingredients.
How Can You Test Your Paraben Levels?
Yep! You sure can. Talk to your physician to see if it’s a test they can order for you. Your insurance company may, or may not, cover the costs. You fast for eight hours and pee in a little cup. The test results are usually available within 10-14 days.
Many companies offer a paraben test. Some companies send you to a clinic to provide your sample, while others offer an in-home test kit that you return via mail.
Direct Labs, Phthalates & Parabens Profile – $329
MyMedLab, Phthalates & Parabens – Urine profile – $235
Nordic Laboratories, Bisphenol A (BPA) Profile + Phthalates + Parabens – GBP 310
True Health Labs, Phthalates & Parabens Profile – $299
A study published in 2016 found that 100 adolescent girls who stopped using personal care products which contained parabens (and switched to “paraben-free” labeled products) for three days showed a decrease in certain parabens and endocrine-disruptor chemicals of 25-47%. After just three days!
What Will I Do?
If I’ve learned to avoid soy and flax from my diet, I may as well learn to avoid parabens. Why take the chance of worsening my Endometriosis, if I can try my best to help it?
Try is the key word…and because I’m going to try, I’m not going to beat myself up if I can’t from time to time. I know a healthier lifestyle is expensive…and alternatives can be hard to come by within budget. BUT at least I can do my best to stay away from them as often as I can.
AND when I see my physician next year, I’ll ask them to see if they can run this urine test with my annual lab work. Quite curious if insurance will cover it.
I’m also learning to avoid endocrine disruptors as much as possible, like in our antibacterial soaps that the FDA recently ordered banned…learning ALL THE THINGS!
What Will You Do?
Drop me a comment below…Or if you’ve noticed a difference after you cut parabens out of your life as much as possible…
(Updated May 25, 2021)
Endo101 – Xenoestrogens Interfere with your Normal Hormones
Environmental Health Perspectives – (Article; March 2016) Reducing Phthalate, Paraben, and Phenol Exposure from Personal Care Products in Adolescent Girls: Findings from the HERMOSA Intervention Study
Environmental Health Perspectives – (Article; Oct. 2016) Toward a Better Beauty Regimen: Reducing Potential EDC Exposures from Personal Care Products
Environment International – (Abstract; Oct. 2016) A Survey of Parabens in Commericial Pharmaceuticals from China and Its Implications for Human Exposure
Environmental Research – (Abstract; May 2021) Cosmetic and personal care product use, urinary levels of parabens and benzophenones, and risk of endometriosis: results from the EndEA study
Genova Diagnostics – Phthalates & Parabens Profile – Urine
Natural Fertility Info – Elevated Estrogen Levels Linked to Toxins in Body Care Products
One Green Planet – 7 Ways to Avoid Parabens and Phthalates in Personal Care Products
Peace with Endo – (Blog; Sept. 2012) Chemicals in Beauty Products
Skin Help – (Case Study) Why I Only Use a Paraben-Free Suncream: A Case Study
The Ugly Side of Beauty – Paraben
Water, Air, & Soil Pollution – (Abstract; June 2016) Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals: Adverse Effects of Bisphenol A and Parabens to Women’s Health
*If you’d like to review full copies of the abstracts, please let me know*
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa