Parabens are a chemical compound found in everyday toiletry products, deodorants, face cream, makeup, shaving foam, tanning lotion and toothpaste. They are present in processed meats such as sausages, pies and pastries along with other savoury snacks. They extend the shelf life by protecting them from microbial growth. They are a preservative and are used mainly for their antibacterial and antifungal properties. They are cheap which is probably why they are so widely used.
Parabens have been found in many breast tissue samples and in tumours of breast cancer patients. No link though has been found between breast cancer and deodorants but a number of studies since 1998 have raised concerns about the link as they possess oestrogen properties. Oestrogen is known to play a central role in the development, growth and progression of breast cancer. There are ongoing studies into this. It is thought that their effects can be accumulative and it seems reasonable while the jury is out on this to avoid them where possible.
How to spot them.
Check the labels for:
para-hydroxybenzoic acid, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, benzylparaben and sobutylparaben.
Catherine Priestley, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care is quoted as saying ‘There is currently no conclusive evidence to suggest that the use of products containing parabens is directly linked to the development of breast cancer.
‘Whilst there are a number of factors that may slightly increase the risk of a person developing breast cancer, increasing age, gender (being female) and a significant family history are the three main risk factors.
‘It is important that people should have access to information on this issue and about their risk factors for breast cancer so that they can make informed lifestyle choices.
‘For more information on breast cancer, breast health and risk factors for breast cancer, visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk or call our free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 6000.’